Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What the critic said

I think I had always had a rather Platonic idea of art and the art world….that the work that reached the top (like cream in a milk bottle) would be the absolute distillation of art perfection. And this may be true if one adds time into the equation…or truer….

though one has to remember all the wonderful art made by women over the centuries which was totally discounted. – however that’s a whole other issue!

But reading books like I bought Andy Warhol by Polsky lets one see that art is a commodity as well as an ideal, and frequently the commodity aspect is more important! (The link is an interesting interview with the author.)

A second aspect about art – especially I’m sure in the New York or the London art scene - is that Fashion definitely plays a large part. What’s hot is not necessarily what’s extremely good and lasting, but what is new and attention gathering.

As human beings, we love novelty. To some extent we are wired to pay attention to new stimuli in our environment – lest they be dangerous or very rewarding.

So a purple jacket in a sea of black will definitely stand out! I’m told purple is the “in” colour this year in London!! (not that I’m wearing it, I’m still working on the year before lasts “in” colour!) (I did find a purple quilt though! - it's at the top).

Artwork may grasp our attention because it’s a brilliant new insight into Truth and Beauty and therefore will probably last, or it may be startling because it’s extremely transgressive, or it may point up some political or religious factors that are of great current significance.

The critic whose talk I heard was pointing out that the lasting quality of a piece of art is only one of many factors (and not necessarily of the greatest importance) that will lead museums and galleries to want to show it. Galleries are businesses, they have to sell work and build reputations to stay in business. Clearly, part of the reputation is based on their ability to find art and artists whose work will stand the “test of time” – the work that will give lasting pleasure and garner longterm attention from those who see it. But the greater part of the reputation for most galleries is built on how long they can stay in business!! Which depends on selling.

There’s one other huge aspect to all of this, that permeates the art business and the business business and the academic business, and the political and entertainment etc etc and that is publicity and networking. Whom you know, to whom you can show the work.

So a successful piece of art, so the critic told us, (and it makes common sense) is one that is new and different so that it grasps attention but is also still within the current fashion interest, and that is shown in the right place, at the right time, to the right people….oh, and as an after thought…may stand the test of time and be reasonably well made.

And, if you have been, thanks for reading!


1 comment:

Libby Fife said...

Art must be all that and a bag of chips! No pressure to be sure.