Is it art?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

There is never ending debate about what makes something art. One answer seem to have become axiomatic over the last few decades. Only the artist him/herself can decide that any given object it art.

To understand why anyone would believe this, it helps to know that in the early part of last century, Marcel Duchamp set up this precedent by submitting to an art show a glazed porcelain toilet which he had grafittoed with the pen name R. Mutt. In his defense, the toilet/urinal thing did have some great lines.
In the decades that followed, particularly the Sixties, people who wanted to answer the question 'What is art?' but were too lazy to put any real thought into it decided to put the whole thing in the lap of the artists and sometimes curators. At least then you know who to blame.
However, this sort of sloppy logic is demonstrably untrue. Many objects that were never intended by their makers to be art now reside in art museums (the spearhead on the right is in the MET). Many objects created with great artistic fervor now reside in landfills.
From bronze daggers to ball gowns, bodily fluids to burnt offerings, what makes something art has little to do with assertions and a whole lot to do with social constructions. Just like money, art exists because we agree it exists. Only the most personal art forms can be considered art with only the artist's assertion because the artist acts as both creator and admirer of art.

How to Fail as an Artist, 4

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Before you can fail as an artist, you must look the part.

Let's use the best artistic failure known to man, Jackson Pollock, as an example.

You may know that Pollack, whose elder brother studied art, wanted to be an artist from youth. What you may not know is that he literally dressed in a smock and beret in the best stereotype of a French painter.

Pollack was smart to destroy as much of the photographic evidence as possible, but the photo (right) gives you a fair idea what he looked like.

Naturally, no one was ever going to take him seriously like that, but fortunately Pollack was cultivating a new look by the time he was 20.

The greater part of Pollack's genius was in being timely. American sentiments towards foreigners and foreign culture had taken a decidedly negative turn after WWII, and Pollack was able to fashion a new stereotype of a manly, American artist.
I can easily see him saying, "how do you like that, you f***ing commies?" when his work went overseas. He could not have been a more perfect cultural ambassador for the States.
So take a lesson from the master and always suit your look to the times. It would not be going too far to have a microprocessor embedded in your forehead just now. Maybe a few LEDs. Think about it.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ok, so I'm having trouble getting it together to do a post this week. I'm all hormonal. Sue me.
So instead, I give you this picture that I made from a failed attempt at photographing birds at a feeder.
Next week we'll have another 'how to fail as an artist.' Look forward to it!

New year's resolution update

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

So how's the New Year's Resolution coming?
I set a pretty big goal for myself - doubling the amount of time I work on ink painting. In order to accomplish this, I am trying to come up with strategies to help me work at it longer.
I have been doing physical exercises to help cope with working on the floor sitting in seiza (Japanese style.) These are really starting to pay off. I can sit much longer without pain now, but I am still working on a low table hoping that it will make me more comfortable and perhaps increase my accuracy.
The main barrier I am going to have to deal with for a while is the lack of paper. I am currently rationing to make my paper last until at least Spring. Hopefully, I will be able to afford a good supply of paper by then or work could grind to a halt.
I won't be totally stopped at that point because I am saving pieces like the picture on the right so that I can work on learning to do washes and mounting the pieces for hanging.
Until I can get in a steady supply of paper, I am going to be limited in how much I can do in a day. I am going to supplement that as much as I can with pencil studies, art history, and any other forms of training that I think might help.

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