Cynicism in art is common, of course, especially these days: “one is hard pressed to regard [the artist’s installations] as anything other than relics of a civilization incapable of sustaining itself”. But another take on cynicism that might be more relevant to the quilt world would be this comment: “Perhaps in our age of cynicism the most provocative thing an artist can do is to be decidedly unpolitical and refreshingly optimistic”
So let us provoke the rest of the art world with fresh takes and insouciant gamboling (not gambling – though of course it is!!) in the world of dye, paint and fibre!
To return, however, to my original point: The article I was reading today is a review by the painter Richard Kalina of a show in
In order for us to understand the role of the artist in society today, Kalina feels that we should have some way to determine the validity of the work. There should be a way to judge the quality of the work by some means other than market value (and in the quilt world this might also mean acceptance to those key shows, the number of prizes, popularity in magazines etc etc). As Oscar Wilde (ever a man for a pithy quotation!) said (those) who know the price of everything know the value of nothing.
Greenberg and Rosenberg were very serious thinkers and writers with considerable knowledge of art. Even though times have changed and the art world is much more scattered than before, their way of judging forms a strong basis for assessing the quality of a work of art. When
Greenberg would compare the work to its predecessors. He would also stress workmanship, looking at how well made the piece was – whatever the medium. He would examine composition: How well do the different elements work together, is everything essential? Is there anything missing? He also felt that a conceptual piece needed to go beyond the mere idea of that concept. (think of all those dreadful tampon pieces we had to put up with in the name of feminism!). Greenberg valued what he called “aesthetic surprise” which he felt was an essential part of great art: “aesthetic surprise comes from inspiration and sensibility as well as from being abreast of the artistic times”.
Both critics would urge us (as would be artists) to risk failure, to push deeper, to avoid easy solutions, to eschew the predictable, and abhor the trite and slick. This is going to be tough! But it sets a direction to begin the journey.
And if you have been, thanks for reading….and now for a nice cuppa tea...