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Don't "get" art? It's not just you.

YYW
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11/5/2016 5:42:31 PM
Posted: 3 weeks ago
http://www.vice.com...

This article was written by a person who just doesn't "get" art. He went to art school, wrote a clever sounding art-related dissertation. He correctly speculates that "nobody's actually into art, and it's just some exclusive club you can only join in you've got more money than interesting things to communicate to the rest of the human species."

Some of the "art" he takes issue with is some girl probably in her 20s or whatever rubbing money against her vagina. Other art that isn't worth being called as such is some wooden contraption that looks like a fallen out bridge. A third example of stupid art is a wooden shelf with ceramic pet structures on it. A fourth is a piece of legal paper with what looks like a child's water color creation on it. A dog could paint a better picture. A fifth is some electric lighting which reads "my cunt is wet with fear." Disgusting.

This is art in our post-postmodern age, or so it's called. The problem is that it's not art. It's the cheap, uncreative, provocative-for-its-own-sake trash that wannabe artists who have no talent or skill vomit onto some canvass or print by way some medium (paint, lighting, photography, whatever) who expect to be celebrated because they "made a thing." It's pathetic.

I once regularly hooked up with an art student about a year ago. He was in his fourth year at SAIC, which is regarded as one of the country's preeminent art schools. I looked at what he did, and it was pathetic. He was cute and good in bed, but that was it. He didn't have a brain in his head or even a quantum of talent.

When I talked to him about Rembrandt or Cezanne, or any of the other names... all he could say about them was "I learned about them. They were impressionists, right? I didn't really like it. Everything they did was so dead." Our fling did not last long. We had nothing in common, other than a mutual desire to get laid.

Dead?

Art never dies. It is the one thing on this earth that can approach (even if not attain) eternal life. Art lives on in the hearts and minds of those who behold it. That is... art that is recognizable as such.

This is not a post about any "eye of the beholder" trash, or any other kind of nonsense. No. It's a rebuke of that narrative of thought. One man's trash may be another man's masterpiece, but there are no standards for delineating trash from masterpiece any more in the world of modern art. That is why so much of modern art is so bad.

The impulse to novelty may have impelled Warhol or Rothko to do creative and innovative things, but now... the kids in art school and the people who hold themselves out to the world as "artists" do not deserve the title. If you want to innovate, you have to understand where the art world has been so that you have good instincts.

Few have good instincts these days, because instincts are gone. This free-floating ideal of "letting anyone to anything at all" however aesthetically hideous it may be is the result of many decades of Bauhaus type "throw everything out and begin anew." So, if you throw everything out.... centuries... millennia of artistic innovation... gone... what then?

The answer is obvious: we're back in the stone age, in a context where an impulse to be provocative for the purpose of getting attention trumps any semblance of interest in cultivating true skill. I mean who writes "my cunt is wet with fear"? What does that even mean.

I don't give half_a_shoddy_fuck_about the level of moisture contained in anyone's genitals and nor should anyone else. What conceivable meaning could that trash intend to convey? Could it be reflective of the pervasive uncertainty throughout modern society and the almost now ubiquitous exhilaration people feel at the onslaught of catastrophe which we increasingly think is nearer and nearer with each passing day?

Not likely. The artist who writes "my cunt is wet with fear" would stumble trying to pronounce "ubiquitous," wouldn't know what the word means, and wouldn't even bother to go to the dictionary to look it up all the while their trash's "critical receipt" is written by people with educational backgrounds similar (though likely inferior) to mine but who at the same write for the same reason I do: to show off how insufferably clever they are.

Trash. The whole lot of it. Whatever modest value may have existed in critical review of things that are actually worth regarding as art evaporates in the instant that such a level of inquiry is allocated to what is nothing more than creative fraud. It is not enough that you get a bunch of high-society women (who really just want a night away from their husbands) and gay men (who really just want to appear more sophisticated than they are) all coming together at some shit_ass gallery in a gentrified and overly priced part of New York City, who sip cheap wine and poorly prepared hors d'oeuvres that stare at a painting and struggle to come up with things that are not disparaging for a piece that everyone recognizes is trash but no one is afraid to criticize because it's hanging in a gallery.

Then, some particularly classless b!tch with more money than brains pulls out her checkbook and buys it. The gallery takes like 75% of the sale as commission, gives pennies on the dollar to the deluded schmuck that had the misfortune of producing this "masterpiece." Trash.

If you don't "get" art, it's probably not you. It's the "art."
Subutai
Posts: 3,134
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11/5/2016 9:18:28 PM
Posted: 3 weeks ago
My problem with postmodern art isn't so much the concept as it is the fact that it's been beaten to death for a long time. I'll even admit that I like some of modern art styles like expresssionism and surrealism (although those are more modern than postmodern). I don't really care for the minimalist undertones that pervade postmodern art, but I respect the originators of the movement for being innovative.

But this sort of empty, vacuous art has been standard in the art community for far too long. It's lost all sort of novelty and is past the point of banal triviality. I'm surprised that people continue to look at recent postmodern experiments in minimalism as groundbreaking. It's like they don't even realize that that piece was directly built off of thousands that came before it (at the very least, the newer piece relies on the same underlying theme, and, at most, it is basically just a blatant copy of one or more of them).

Postmodrenism, and especially minimalism in art is, at this point, hackneyed. I really wish that something that was actually innovative and original would come on the art scene and influence other artists to follow in their footsteps (while hopefully avoiding the postmodern similarity trap).
I'm becoming less defined as days go by, fading away, and well you might say, I'm losing focus, kinda drifting into the abstract in terms of how I see myself.
brycef
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11/7/2016 12:15:46 PM
Posted: 3 weeks ago
I think people need to be more critical of what is valuable in art and what isn't. I disagree with a blanket dismissal of postmodernism because I think there's a ton of amazing stuff still being done in postmodernism, and its experimentation with form has limitless possibilities. That said, what we DO need to move past is giving anything a pass as "art".

Valuable art captivates, hypnotizes, and inspires. It can also change the way you see the world. I recommend looking into aesthetics and the philosophy of beauty. Of course, great art can also be hideous - the art of the profane can change the way you see things as well.

I think great art is achieved through mastery of form, and of personal truths. Someone who isn't a master of the form can sometimes even make a great piece of art when they express something that rings true and is profound, and they can only achieve this by commenting on something that they understand intimately, and thus uniquely. When they do this, their voice comes through.

Which brings me to the "BS" in art.
The author of your article attacks what's probably the easiest category to throw away. There's a weird level of respect for people who do stupid, sensationalistic things like crushing paint balloons with vaginas on top of canvases, or whatever. Or taking pictures of people goofing around, spattered in paint. These types of work are completely without merit. You can come up with some convoluted explanation of the meaning of these works, but if its only value is in a meaning that has to be explained, then it has no value. You can come up with a convoluted explanation of the meaning of anything. Like this post for example - I could say that this post is commentary on the literary gray area between journalism, pros, and informal speech. The paragraphs have breaks and the writing target is an overview rather than an in depth mechanical exploration, like a journalistic article. But the paragraphs are long, and examine personal opinion, like an essay (pros). But my language is simple and my punctuation is informal and in some cases blatantly incorrect, for the purpose of flow, like speech. Therefor this post shows the invalidity of genre divisions in modern literature. Now give me my $100K.

Another trend that's extremely common in the art often displayed in museums is that its only purpose is to experiment with form, with the art having no aesthetic point whatsoever. I recall recently seeing a massive piece made up of parts of tires duct taped together into a massive, amorphous shape. This got a feature in a museum. Another piece was of a bunch of colorful rubber balls held up in a big, white rope net. The artist had painstakingly made the net and every ball. But I didn't care, because the end result was the same as if you'd bought some balls and a net from a convenience store. In terms of value, this is the same as a self-indulgent musician showing how masterfully they can "shred", without ever actually constructing a song. There is no reason to care.

Another category I think warrants criticism is that of what are basically just optical illusions. Pieces where, for example, an artist shows two white squares, to reveal that what we thought was as white as a square can get, in fact, isn't, because it's dimmer than the first square. You should never pay someone thousands of dollars to show you an optical illusion, even if it's demonstrated using paint.

underlying all of these is another category, which is "art" whose only point is the concept. A few years ago I saw a piece called "blue" that was literally a piece of blue cloth on a canvas. Its point was the blue cloth was supposed to evoke feelings of childhood nostalgia, given its calming, warming shade. This had sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Returning back to the point on "personal truths", the reason this is so important is because more and more I see young artists making pieces that comment on things like global poverty, war, etc. Inevitably, if these pieces are made by artists who come from impoverished villages, or who are shellshocked soldiers, they are powerful. But too often they're made my American or European kids who have never lived through what they're commenting on, so they're making some useless comment on a subject they at best half-understand, and that's no better than hanging out with stoned college kids who rant about the world. Especially since the kids who do such pieces are probably spoiled art students who don't actually understand the subject.

The reason it's important to decipher what's valuable and what's not is because it seems like rich museums have been the biggest dupes. I'm in my late 20s, so by now some of the artists I grew up with have become amazing. I see their incredible pieces on Instagram. I see other incredible pieces in DIY "'zines". But then I'll go to a fancy museum, and most of the art I'm seeing, that's sold for tons of money, can't stack up to what I see on instagram and in magazines. I think that's a problem.
Vaarka
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11/7/2016 4:30:37 PM
Posted: 3 weeks ago
At 11/7/2016 12:15:46 PM, brycef wrote:
I think people need to be more critical of what is valuable in art and what isn't. I disagree with a blanket dismissal of postmodernism because I think there's a ton of amazing stuff still being done in postmodernism, and its experimentation with form has limitless possibilities. That said, what we DO need to move past is giving anything a pass as "art".

Valuable art captivates, hypnotizes, and inspires. It can also change the way you see the world. I recommend looking into aesthetics and the philosophy of beauty. Of course, great art can also be hideous - the art of the profane can change the way you see things as well.

I think great art is achieved through mastery of form, and of personal truths. Someone who isn't a master of the form can sometimes even make a great piece of art when they express something that rings true and is profound, and they can only achieve this by commenting on something that they understand intimately, and thus uniquely. When they do this, their voice comes through.

Which brings me to the "BS" in art.
The author of your article attacks what's probably the easiest category to throw away. There's a weird level of respect for people who do stupid, sensationalistic things like crushing paint balloons with vaginas on top of canvases, or whatever. Or taking pictures of people goofing around, spattered in paint. These types of work are completely without merit. You can come up with some convoluted explanation of the meaning of these works, but if its only value is in a meaning that has to be explained, then it has no value. You can come up with a convoluted explanation of the meaning of anything. Like this post for example - I could say that this post is commentary on the literary gray area between journalism, pros, and informal speech. The paragraphs have breaks and the writing target is an overview rather than an in depth mechanical exploration, like a journalistic article. But the paragraphs are long, and examine personal opinion, like an essay (pros). But my language is simple and my punctuation is informal and in some cases blatantly incorrect, for the purpose of flow, like speech. Therefor this post shows the invalidity of genre divisions in modern literature. Now give me my $100K.

Another trend that's extremely common in the art often displayed in museums is that its only purpose is to experiment with form, with the art having no aesthetic point whatsoever. I recall recently seeing a massive piece made up of parts of tires duct taped together into a massive, amorphous shape. This got a feature in a museum. Another piece was of a bunch of colorful rubber balls held up in a big, white rope net. The artist had painstakingly made the net and every ball. But I didn't care, because the end result was the same as if you'd bought some balls and a net from a convenience store. In terms of value, this is the same as a self-indulgent musician showing how masterfully they can "shred", without ever actually constructing a song. There is no reason to care.

Another category I think warrants criticism is that of what are basically just optical illusions. Pieces where, for example, an artist shows two white squares, to reveal that what we thought was as white as a square can get, in fact, isn't, because it's dimmer than the first square. You should never pay someone thousands of dollars to show you an optical illusion, even if it's demonstrated using paint.

underlying all of these is another category, which is "art" whose only point is the concept. A few years ago I saw a piece called "blue" that was literally a piece of blue cloth on a canvas. Its point was the blue cloth was supposed to evoke feelings of childhood nostalgia, given its calming, warming shade. This had sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Returning back to the point on "personal truths", the reason this is so important is because more and more I see young artists making pieces that comment on things like global poverty, war, etc. Inevitably, if these pieces are made by artists who come from impoverished villages, or who are shellshocked soldiers, they are powerful. But too often they're made my American or European kids who have never lived through what they're commenting on, so they're making some useless comment on a subject they at best half-understand, and that's no better than hanging out with stoned college kids who rant about the world. Especially since the kids who do such pieces are probably spoiled art students who don't actually understand the subject.

The reason it's important to decipher what's valuable and what's not is because it seems like rich museums have been the biggest dupes. I'm in my late 20s, so by now some of the artists I grew up with have become amazing. I see their incredible pieces on Instagram. I see other incredible pieces in DIY "'zines". But then I'll go to a fancy museum, and most of the art I'm seeing, that's sold for tons of money, can't stack up to what I see on instagram and in magazines. I think that's a problem.

The last paragraph you write is what I was thinking about while reading this thread. There are people who can walk into an art museum, and see something that makes no sense. For example, there's a random blue shape in an art museum near me, and it doesn't really make sense that it's there. It's just...there, and idk why.

There are many people in the world who can create and envision something that is beautiful, very well made and crafted, and should be in a museum, but they're not. There are people who have the potential, but don't know they do. I feel like the "value" of the arts isn't as significant now, and thus we find this:

Person A enjoys art, but is not a good artist, so they spend a ton of money and time getting an education. They will improve, obviously, but they don't put much effort into their work, or they make something simple, but because they're now an artist, it's officially different and professional and deserves to be in a museum.

Person B enjoys art, and is fairly good at it, but doesn't pursue some huge education for it, and as such their fame is mostly on a local level. Therefore, because they're not an actual "artist", it's disregarded as just "something cool a kid made".

Person C has the potential to be a great artist, but because of either their own influences (don't enjoy art) or outside influences (family members telling you to "stop pursuing that and become what I want you to be"), don't pursue that potential, and become something else.

Person D enjoys art and is good at it, and pursues it, and that's how we get the good art we see in museums. For example, in the art museum near where I live, someone made a tower of glass with a bunch of utensils and other stuff from a wedding, all made of glass, but as you got lower down and the shelves for the items widened, the wedding decor began to melt and break, even to the point of melting off the tower. It was actually really cool, and all made of glass.

Of course, there are people who don't fit into those four kinds of people, but that's usually the majority that you see. Person D is the ones we typically see in museums that we consider good, Person A is the one we also see in museums that we consider "bad" and "pointless". Person B is the person who we don't see in museums, but instead online and in more local settings, and we consider it good. Person C is one we usually don't see because they pursued something else.
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PureX
Posts: 1,514
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11/10/2016 8:07:16 PM
Posted: 3 weeks ago
This is very BIG topic. And that makes it difficult to address with any meaningful specificity.

I think we need to begin with some clarification about what art is in contemporary times, because it has not always had the same purpose in all times and cultures. And art has been undergoing a major transitional period regarding it's purpose for the last several hundred years (as society has morphed from an agrarian to an industrial culture). Thus, the designations, 'Pre-Modernist', 'Modernist', and 'Post-modernist Art'. And it may continue to change; we don't know. What we do know is that for the last several hundred years, artists have been exploring the nature and purpose of the artistic endeavor. And that has cause a lot of confusion and upheaval for both artists and art appreciators, alike.

But this subject, alone, could warrant a book.

At the present time (and in the era of what we're labeling "post-modern art", the purpose of art is to capture and express the artist's experience and understanding of 'being', with other people, through their interaction with some medium. The art object is a kind of document intended to capture and present the artist's experience and understanding of the world, through the lens of being themselves.

I, personally, like this endeavor very much because I have always found artists to be very interesting and unique people. The very thing that drives them to make art, makes this so. However, I do think it's often difficult for the art audience to know how to "read" the artwork as the expressive document that it is. And some artists, not fully conscious of this general 'meme', don't make it any easier.

There are a couple simple principals, however, to keep in mind when experiencing post-modern art, that I think will help. And they are as follow:

1. Art is not entertainment. It can be, and often is, entertaining, but that is NOT it's primary purpose. So if you are not entertained by a work of art, that does not mean that it's "bad art", or that it's "good art". It just means that it's not entertaining art, and that's fine, because that's not what post-modern art is created to do. In fact, to entertain was never the primary purpose of art, in any era.

2. Art is not about YOU. It does not exist for you to like, or for you to understand, or for you to identify yourself with, specifically. Again, a work of art may meet all these criteria, and often will, but that is not it's primary purpose. It's primary purpose is to express the artist's experience and understanding of the phenomena of his/her own existence in some form transferable to you, and/or to others.

3. Give art the benefit of conscious intent. Assume that everything you see, hear, read, etc., in a work of art is deliberate and necessary and serves the whole. That includes the physical and intellectual context in which you are experiencing the artwork. Post-modern art is often as much about the context in which it is being presented to you as it is about the actual content of the artwork, itself.

4. Don't look if you don't want to see. Going to an art gallery to loathe and complain about the art there is just a waste of your own time and energy, and everyone else's. If you can't muster an open mind and some appreciation for the considerable effort that artists go to, to share their understanding and experience of the world, with you, then don't go at all. Art does exist to serve you in that it is a form of sharing, but it can't do that if you won't let it. We have to be willing to meet the artist half way, through the artwork. That can't happen if we're blinded by our own biased expectations before we even encounter it.

I'll think of some more but that's it for now.
NathanF
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11/29/2016 8:34:35 PM
Posted: 2 days ago
I too have been in the same boat 4 some time. Perhaps you might like this?
(Quantum Impressionism) This art is original and created with transmitted light, and is not a rehash of any other art form.
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