Sunday, June 19, 2011

Rise up artists

Why is it that art for the last 50 years has rationalized away basic fundamentals of drawing and painting?  Because shouting in a crowd gets more attention that quietly painting in a corner. There are times in history where anarchy is needed and serves the greater good, fundamental example being our own revolutionary war. In contrast, there are times when a small group of insiders can usurp a country in a bad way; Hitler and the corporations that backed him in his rise to power come to mind. One small minority in charge of what the majority can think and do.
This kind of dictatorship of one way of thinking got its foothold in the art world with the rise of abstraction. I love good abstract art, but what really went wrong was the schools stopped teaching the fundamentals. Why? It’s so hard to understand that to be a good abstract artist you need to learn to draw and paint traditionally first. Most people can’t see the difference when abstraction is good or bad so why not just do bad abstract art and say it’s good? It’s so much easier. The rest of the rise of contemporary art has been a series of artists shouting louder and painting less. The media follows these revolutionaries because extremes excite people and sell papers.
 This chest thumping publicity type of artist appeals strongly to the corporate businessman. Why? Because often it’s not the most schooled people that get in power, just the most ruthless. The ones that see craftsmanship as a needless expense, the ones that send our skilled work overseas where it’s cheaper. Of course they are going to be attracted to artwork that can be mass-produced by anyone. It cuts down on operating costs and makes everyone eminently replaceable. That why so much work in galleries is clever deconstructive decoration at best, the most common being found items collaged together in a pleasant or clever way. Anyone can do that.  That’s why those collage people dismiss good painters. They are a threat to them because they can’t compete with a high quality aesthetic that makes a good painter unique. The weak artist with the loud voice, good business sense and old school ties runs the parallel with the political and corporate type old boy network. “Street artists” who went to Yale.

 The way to tell if art is weak is to try and copy it, if it’s easy to copy, what does that tell you? Why get your hands dirty? You can just get slaves in Asia to do this. It’s would be bad business not to.

What can you do about it? Fight back shine light on stories like the above article. The world will come around, they want good art. Even Mc Donald’s serves salads now.


Blogger Diana said...

I don't think it's necessary to disparage collage artists (after all, Matisse did some damn fine collage) or assemblage artists (some of Joseph Cornell's work is astonishing) in order to find this article disturbing. Having people in India copy work isn't much different from what Thomas Kinkade, the so-called "Painter of Light," does and I don't think most serious artists consider what he does as art.

The use of assistants may be a time-honored tradition in the fine arts, but some of the examples cited in this article go far beyond that. When an "assistant" executes a work entirely, even when it's at the close direction of an artist, it's not the artist's work. It may be the artist's concept, but the artwork is the assistant's. If a collector wants to buy an artwork made under those circumstances, s/he should at least be aware of the circumstances under which the art was produced. Anything else is fraud.

5:14 PM  
Blogger william wray said...

I’m in basic agreement with you except on the collage art thing. Cornell was interesting if not good, but overall I can’t see assemblage meriting the domination of all contemporary art.Don't get me wrong I like some collage and assemblages it's and there is no getting around the fact it is the most popular form of reviewed art right now and I can't rate 90% as worthy.
As far as for Matisse I agree his collage was good (but he only did it because he was going blind) and I ascribe that to the fact he was a great painter.

5:50 PM  
Blogger ZanBarrage said...

Thank you for shining a light on this issue. We need more art REAL art and less WTO art run by poor slaves for rich masters who commission the art and then sign their names to it!

6:12 PM  
Blogger Rich Moyers said...

Art "works" are no different than nearly everything else that's been watered down and "made" today for a market of corporate ad trained lap dog consumers that really have no basis for understanding the value difference in anything "produced" regarding quality or originality of a given object. The ease of rapid replacement of most any product "consumed" by this "throw away" public at large without regard to how a thing was made or by whom is not even a consideration for most... (even when spending big bucks in the high art world, as was sited in the WSJ article referenced above)...and is the direct result of there being less and less personal daily involvement in the production of "one off" handmade items by our "modern society" at large. We simply don't "make" much of anything completely by hand in the USA anymore, hence there's no relation or personal knowledge of what an artist's uniquely developed talent and skills bring to each "hands on" piece produced. The thing that matters to most people is the price of something and it's perceived "value" in monetary terms, and whether or not they like it enough to purchase it, period.

As to the popularity of "Collage Art" these seems likely that the use of appropriated yet familiar images recombined in a "new" composition provides an easy avenue for even casual viewers to "relate" to the work.....they don't have to think too much...especially about or decipher "what" the artist's intentions were in making the piece, and this aids in the commerce end of the arts game...dealers and galleries are just satisfying the public's "drive-thru" mentality as conveniently as Warhol did using the Brillo Boxes, Campbell's Soup Can, images of Elvis and Marilyn Monroe, etc...all familiar images to millions, and their predisposed approvals...which can easily translate to $ales.

10:44 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

James Gurney, creator of Dinotopia among other things, is making important in-roads reviving the importance of fundamental skills. He's doing so by including recent and exponentially growing discoveries in neuroscience with his art instruction. His book "Color and Light" was selling at four times it's marked price for a time. The book came about by collecting posts from his prolific blog. Here's some pertinent links:

I beleive Neuroscience is key in unraveling the mess you describe. It's playing a huge role in Usability Design and putting more artists or mananagers with artistic qualities in charge. Bill Buxton at Microsoft is a good example of someone cleaning up a big non-artist, geek-caused usability mess. A few years ago he gave a lecture at Princeton about the importance of crits and the art school system in product development. I say raise awareness of what these people are doing.

7:24 AM  
Blogger Mark Bridges said...

Some folks are artist, some, just designers.

8:10 AM  
Blogger william wray said...

Rich everything you said was insightful. I ask you to try and make it part of your day everyday to spread your thoughts on the subject. Lets take it back.

10:34 AM  
Blogger william wray said...

Thanks Michael RG is onto something keep spreading the gospel.

10:37 AM  
Blogger Rich Moyers said...

William, Thanks for your acknowledgement....believe me I sincerely do try to get people's attention on this subject constantly, even though I feel like Don Quixote leaning on that darn windmill most of the time.

2:10 PM  
Blogger william wray said...

I think it can be changed because it's a house with no foundation. It will never stand up to a real storm, that’s why people never endorse it rationally, they don't know how defend ethereal cynicism based on a hate for beauty and emotion.

9:52 PM  
Blogger Shane Pierce said...

Man did you hit the nail on the head! I'm so tired of seeing a tree made out of glass jars at an exhibition... I work in the concept art world where fundamentals and just being a good artist still shine. I feel like I am out of the loop....its like I didn't get the punchline. I can't stand the whole "I scribbled on the wall and now I have this 2 page explanation of what it is"

6:10 AM  
Blogger Donald Frazell said...

Art galleries are all about the name on it, art school grads with $$$ who are into the "artscene" and being fashionable, and msot of the buyers are really interior designers. as this is lA, that means lots of new homes for the latest "in" tV star with acres of empty walls and space to fill, before it is reposessed when the series gets cancelled. All thegalleries look alike, all act the same, there is no "dialogue" in the arts anymore, the word art is taught to have no meaning so how could there be? Its all about commerce. And the vacant lives and souls of the wealthy who buy the trash. they dont want anything wiht soul, they want vanity trophies and part conversation pieces as they dont really ahve anything to say.

You want to change it? Need to get strong group showings going, find common aspirations, but not identical styles to follow those goals. Really need the exceptional business type who can fund such a thing, it really isnt that much to do so. As Morozov said, good picture s are cheap when buying Matisse work. Bad art is very expensive. As its about trendiness and one upping the other board members. Intelligent people are often attracted to good art, but not all. I think only about 20% are affected by art, and then by different forms, music, visual, poetry novels. But is IS the highest common denominator, entertainment the lowest and this stuff but nouveau riche fashion.

Follow the money, not the top rich, but thsoe who will respond to crafstmanship and true emotional intensity. Getting to enough is the key. And the media obsessesed with the rich for who they are their jesters and lapdogs. Follow the money, how and where is the key, but unite. We are scattered in LA and been visually blitzed by bells and whistles for a long time, but people do want to meditate and pray and unite. But god has been ignored by the "elite' and degradwed by the right wing, but that is teh apth. For art is always about mind body and soul united as one.

Ridicule the powers that be, show them for what they are, wearing their Imperial clothing. And attack, too much sitting around moping, time to take the offensive and stop the PC nonsense which is a lie. And the way to be tamed and neutered. Dont be afraid to take a stand, we will always be wrong sometimes, but keep moving. They will fall, its just wether we will all fall with them.

9:49 AM  
Blogger william wray said...

Shane you are rational I went thru the same thing in school, I felt like I was in a madhouse. I think the art world did drop out in the sixties.

10:32 PM  
Blogger william wray said...

Thanks Donald!

10:33 PM  
Blogger Tim Fitzgerald said...

There is an old saying my dad used to quote.
He said: "When anything goes,everything goes.

I for one believe this is what happened to art education. We can see where this brought us...

12:34 PM  
Blogger william wray said...

Art evolved up to the seventies, (even if it was a de- evolution) it was interesting, but being able to do good abstraction is based on being able to draw. Once people started skipping the fundamentals part the abstraction became nonsense. If you have no fundamentals, you have a small tool box. You've limited your scope of creativity. If it's all ideas, it's the opposite of what an intellectual might rationalize (that ideas have no limit.) Why? Because there are so many things you can't do (like draw a figure) If you have no ability to create with your hands beyond hiring others to do it. This lack of creative ability self- perpetuates a narrow rage of the same old gathering of objects. Even painting becomes a form of collage if you having someone else do it.
So that investors aren't attracted to good art with passion and skill the contemporary idea artist then forms a defensive shield of other "artists," galleries and critics to keep out all the people with talent and real education in the basics. They mock good artwork as old fashioned kitsch, and shame collectors who might be attracted to it. All this despite the fact contemporary art has been in a endless cycle of same old eating it's own tail for 50 years. There has never been a time in history when art didn't evolve (in either direction) until now.
Thank God some many galleries are slowly starting to take on real painters and collectors are buying things they like.

2:41 PM  
Blogger Donald Frazell said...

There is alot of great collaage, assemblages are the thing that is stupid and lazy. It is what it is and evokes nothing as poetic art is supposed to. my ex wife does some great collage, but also lots of painting involved. Takes Romare Bearden to a new level, his best having evolved from Matisse and some earlier Picasso cartoons. Braque's papier colle's are incredible, as was Picasso's, who was his truly Braque's follower during the cubist years. If Cezanne was the fathr of them all, Braque is mine now, crazy ole Cezanne grandpop's.

4:47 PM  
Blogger Donald Frazell said...

And while I am not crazy about Cornell, leaves me cold, interesting but as a duchamp guy, thats about it. Kurt Schwitters on the other hand made some great work. But was never cut and past, more break and nail and paint

7:25 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Motion Graphics relies on collage and a lot of it looks really good. Many of these artists can't draw. In fact I would think aspirations to draw and paint would distract them from keeping up with the rapid tech work flows. That's my dilemma. : ) Since the deadlines are tight but the work is very interesting, seen my millions there is a disincentive to paint and draw for many.

9:46 PM  
Blogger william wray said...

yeah it's a world of tricks. I paint 100% digitally for one of my animation jobs, 90% by hand for the other. I'm co- directing a pilot and I'm getting tons or paintings done. I'm way faster at the hand done stuff, but the company wants to spend more time and money elevating tec wiz. I don't get it.

12:51 AM  
Blogger william wray said...

Collage and assembly are fine, when it’s good its good. I just resent that the hoarders who glue dominate the art world do the propaganda that being able to draw and paint is some hind of old fashioned handicap.

1:02 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

The jowners can own the tec wiz. (Love that term.That's a keeper.) They can quantify and present it in board meetings and on resumes to elevate themselves. They can't own or flout the drawing skill that is the software of your one and only brain. That's how the plagiarizing paintbox artist I told of on FB has risen to beyond the head of all graphics at a MAJOR network and now holds a ubiquitous VP title. He used tec wiz to consolidate all grfx in one location for the whole country. He put a lot of artists out of work and apparently raised efficiencies.

5:32 AM  
Blogger william wray said...

So if he learns to draw he's betraying fellow artists. He sounds like executive material. That’s the parallel with modern art, the more that bad art and lack of skill is promoted, the more photos and stock tricks with computer manipulation of existing imagery become the acceptable as "art" the more we all get fucked. Corporate laps dogs helping to bosses cage or kill the wild wolves.

10:22 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

National Geographic, March 2011, has an interesting group of stories that seem to inform this situation further.

"Taming the Wild" on page 34, talks about the domestication of foxes and dogs but seems allude how humans have both domesticated and nomadic traits. The domestication trait in humans has been likely "selected for" over the centuries possibly because it fosters scenarios for humans to work together on large projects and systems. This is important because I believe we're here to evolve, and evolution is information building on information. Our genetics are information storage and we have now created further information storage systems such as books and computers.

But this same domestication trait leads to overpopulation and over-consumption. The nomadic, wild hunter-gatherer traits seem to lead to more innovation but has been "selected out" over recent centuries. We have plenty of evidence to show how smaller companies consistently provide more innovation than larger over-consuming organizations. We may need to understand how these two behavioral traits can work together in a positive way.

It requires a careful, dynamic balance of management for both traits if we are to successfully evolve with the resources we have. Now for all the fear-mongers out there, I am not suggesting Eugenics. I am suggesting we understand how these traits matter in the larger picture and we manage it somehow.

3:20 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

It’s all laid out, (National Geographic, March 2011, page 72) in the chart graphic of a 3 dimensional cube. One axis measures population, the other measures technology based on patents. The third axis measures affluence based on GDP. Notice how the vertical axis of affluence adds to the shocking exponential growth after 1950.

So basically everything is going to crap in a hand basket just as Revelations predicts. The only thing not mentioned is the exponential speed part. Humans don't intuitively grasp the exponential mean. So I believe all we can do is treat each other a lovingly as possible as we watch the whole world go to crap in a hand basket at exponential speed.

3:58 PM  
Blogger william wray said...

my analogy gone wild.

6:19 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Yeah i guess girls gone wild would have been better. : )

6:38 PM  
Blogger william wray said...

In this case the usual Anthropological conformation doesn’t make me feel better.

7:14 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Sorry, sciency stuff placates me. I thought it did that for everyone. : )

7:20 PM  
Blogger william wray said...

I don't feel the love you mentioned, I just want to back them into a good museum and make them look at Rembrandts until they confess they are faking it...

7:28 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Reminds of that other heck-of-a-LA-artist Wayne White. Just tell the fakers you'll smash that f-ing painting over their head.

6:08 AM  
Blogger william wray said...

Wayne White at least has a cute art director’s way of making thrift store art “his” but the idea of painting over other people old work smacks of such a level of prank cynicism that I really don’t care for it. I accept he has to do what he has to do to get some sort of acceptance in that world, yes isn’t in all that old garbage worth making fun of? Get it, now what?
He my be clever and I guess his group of deconstructed cartoon stylists like Gary Panter and Kaz have a following, but they smack of cartoonists who were too lazy to learn to draw.
This Humpty Dumpty art world is like a meth head that has obsessively taken apart every cool old gadget in their garage. They then don’t know how to put the result back together so they call the plies of junk art. That is the mentality that has poisoned the art world for 50 years.
The two guys have done something interesting with juxtaposing images in an innovative original way are Robert Williams and Mark Ryden. They both at least held onto craft and intelligent humor in their work. I also think there is a positive obsessive quality about what they do that’s truly original. They have spawned a lot of crap though.

10:35 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

I spent a lot of time hoping he was painting the backgrounds. After I found out he wasn't I lost a great amount of interest. But I find myself keep coming back to his paintings because the phrases and words he uses are somehow beyond clever for me. My interest in your work however has never taken that hit. Sister Wendy agrees about the difference between cleverness and art that stands the test of time. Here's something I saved from awhile back.

Sister Wendy on Piss Christ (Part 6)!

What's she saying? 2:23 ... again it's a kind of ______ reaction.
second hand seeing?

Aletha Kuschan
‎@ Michael
It might be more accurate to call it "cumulative" seeing. She's saying that one knows a work is great by virtue of its having stood the test of time, that many intelligent viewers have seen the qualities it possesses. Someone might have this same reaction to works today, but the reaction might be individual only. This is the clearest standard of something's being great.

As an artist, I have that same reaction that she describes in regard to certain works of the present day, yet I agree with her that it might be my subjective reaction and not something larger in scope. Of course, it's still important to me to note what I am most moved by, what I care about, what I learn from or wish to emulate.

A second-hand reaction in contrast would be to assume something is important because other people say so. In a good way, the second-hand reaction might give someone their first incentive to really pay attention, but it's not until they're paying attention that they're "seeing" it at all -- whether they like it or not. And not every great work of art will have meaning for everyone. We're individuals.

Kathy Forer
‎"Suck it and sieve" (or would that be pronounced "siiv"?) The proof of a great painting is what we do with what we get from it. It's about food or nourishment to her.

Aletha Kuschan
I replayed that section, does sound like "suck it and see" as though to say "taste it and find out." But she's also attempting to define great art as something that affects humanity broadly, that is deep and has a spectrum of meanings. In contrast the "Piss Christ" is facile.

12:21 PM  
Blogger Chris Cann Design said...

Bravo bravo, I agree.

10:13 AM  

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