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Contemporary art.
Posted: 10 November 2007 09:46 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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I am interested in your opinions concerning much of the artwork created in our contemporary arena. It seems that postmodernism has created a strange environment of the artist to work in. There is an awful phobia towards commercial art and illustration, even work that has a strong technical presence in it seems to be looked at with scorn. In today’s art climate there seems to be very little room for appreciation. Everyone seems to be bewildered with contemporary Furthermore, how do you feel contemporary art compares to religion, or any belief system. I feel that it has many parrallels with dogmatic beleif in the sense that it cannot be criticized.

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Posted: 10 November 2007 11:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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I assume you mean abstract art. It is a direct result of photography. It has nothing to do with religion and dogma. It’s “appreciation” has more to do with ambitions of appearing cosmopolitan and chic. If you like Jackson Pollock, you will probably like Woody Allen.

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Posted: 10 November 2007 12:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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Jackson Pollock is a modern artist. Postmodern starts around 1960. I think my question is pointed towards contemporary artwork. The present movement we are in now does not really have a name, Frederick Jameson says we are in a post-postmodern world. I dont think abstract art is a result of the photograph, but you bring up a very important point. If we needed abstract art to work around the ability of the photograph and continue the practice of art making than what becomes of the photograph itself? Sureley it is a new medium but I think in terms of definging what is modern, or contemporary the photograph would be the principal mode of artmaking. In other words, photography was modern art when it came out, likewise film is now contemporary art. I think for art to be contemporary it must be synchronized with technology.
Contemporary art now uses ‘concepts’ as its media, where very little importance is placed with the actual physicality o the work. Now this does not speak for all contemporary art (ex. Christo and the Gates) but it does generalize most of it.
I would like to get back to the assumption that the photograph created modern art.The photograph is thought to have a tremendous impact on art, before it, you would have to hire an artist to record an event. This luxury was usually only for the rich, yet as the photograph came to power the job of hiring an artist to paint you as you stayed still for a few hours was replaced with the push of the button. This is said to be dramatic change in art, the birth of Modern art. Why paint if you could just take a picture?
Yet if you go to a museum the Metropolitan Museum of art for example. Try to find paintings that could easily be replaced with a photograph. You would be surprised to find that not many photographs are eligible to take the space of the frames.
Take for example, George Washington Crossing the Delaware, by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze. It was painted in 1851, long after the death of Washington. This famous oil painting would be impossible to replace with a photograph. The artist would have had to: find a printer that could print a painting several feet wide, he would have had to travel seventy-five years back in time, have Washington impossibly pose upright in a rocky boat, freeze huge chunks of ice and place them in the surrounding water, and turn all the ships around, because they are crossing the Delaware in the wrong direction.
Even if the artist has the ability to collaborate pictures and effects, he or she would be only taking real images and placing them in an impossible composition. For example, this would be the same if an artist took a picture of an old man that resembles George Washington and then claimed it to be the president himself.
The historical impact the photograph had on art is slight. The photograph is only a tool, a tool just like the brush, or the canvas. The photograph itself can only fulfill one artistic goal anyway: which is documentation. It cannot show the humans articulation, or his or hers process in creating such an image. A photograph tells no lies, there could never be a surrealist photographer, nor could a photographer depict a past time period.
Furthermore, Washington crossing the Deleware was painted over 20 yeasr after Joseph Neipce invented the photograph.

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Posted: 10 November 2007 06:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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Tom Wolfe, in am essay published in a book on the sculptor Frederick Hart, wrote about the undue influence of the New York art scene, represented by an estimated 3,000 persons nation wide, 2,700 of which live in the NY area. The suggestion being that much modern art has been influenced by the taste of a very few, and that artist and critics, desperate to fit in, mold their opinions to fit.

This is probably not far from the truth. Novelty, ever the standard which NY artist have been judged, is the dominate theme in most modern art. Conveying ideas, narratives, or messages is considered unimportant next to creating something “new.”

This creative dead end is sadly still chugging away. New artist with nothing to say continually create mindless novelties, which hardly anyone outside of the insular art “village” have heard of. Ugly works, reviled by most of the public, are foisted upon an unwilling public, whom are told that they lack culture.

This has happened in my city, where a god awful piece sculpture, two large metallic figures with glowing hearts, resembling the icons used to denote which sex should use which restroom, intersecting each other at a 90 degree angle, was erected, to the dismay of many, in front the old train station. The juxtaposition of the modernistic “statue” and the Beaux Arts style station seems rather disharmonious, but city officials, being assured by voices in the art world that this was a major work by a major artist, went ahead with the installation anyway.

Of course, popular taste doesn’t always denote great art either. However, I would at least like to believe that truly great art can be understood by everyone. Perhaps this is the crux of your query. I’ve had a number of friends and acquaintances who inform me that they don’t like going to museums because they don’t know what the artwork means. This is an idea planted into their head by pretentious art critics, who tell the public that art is over their heads, and that if they like a work by someone, it’s probably bad. I always tell them that art is for everyone, don’t worry about what some guy in New York, Paris, or where ever thinks, what do you think? Maybe your interpretation of a work isn’t what the artist intended, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wrong.

It does seem as though the tide may be turning. I’ve noticed that many arts publications lately are carrying numerous ads for atelier style classical art schools. That, and the internet, like it has for so many other pursuits, has been bringing about a democratization of the art world. Artist are now just as likely to peddle their wares directly to the public, without the intersession of snobbish art dealers. Hopefully, these activities will lessen the influence of critics, and help to bring back skill and craft to Art, and lessen the reliance on novelty.

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Posted: 10 November 2007 08:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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Celsus - 10 November 2007 11:01 PM

Tom Wolfe, in am essay published in a book on the sculptor Frederick Hart, wrote about the undue influence of the New York art scene, represented by an estimated 3,000 persons nation wide, 2,700 of which live in the NY area. The suggestion being that much modern art has been influenced by the taste of a very few, and that artist and critics, desperate to fit in, mold their opinions to fit.

I’ve had a number of friends and acquaintances who inform me that they don’t like going to museums because they don’t know what the artwork means. This is an idea planted into their head by pretentious art critics, who tell the public that art is over their heads, and that if they like a work by someone, it’s probably bad.

I almost completley agree with you. If you look at art work in the past you would notice that art has been used to document things, serve to entertain people, or advertise for something (The Sistine Chapel can be seen as an advertisement for religion). In todays society it is clear that the true modern artist has been inconoclastic not in the style, or subject matter of his work, rather he has progressed technologicaly; constantly changing his medium to better communicate. Ex. From cave paintings, to Fresco’s, to Oils, to Camera, to video camera. to digital world, and so on into posterity.. Our real artists now are the filmakers who artisticly create documentaries and movies. Spielberg is the modern day Michelangelo. The new york art scene is a microcosm of culture and its influence reaches a the same microcosm that creates it. It is a circle of dead ideas and a church of misguided thought. I feel that the art world is infected with pseudo art. As if there was no line seperating pseudoscience with real science. Imagine going to the hospital dangerously ill and you were met with soothsayers and astrologers humming latin words and burning insense as you lyed in your last minutes.. (a little melodramatic I know)

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Posted: 11 November 2007 03:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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Speaking of Hart, I was struck by a news story today. It was a standard Veteran’s Day report on the Vietnam Memorial. The report told the story of Maya Lin, and the contest through which her design was chosen. Of course, there was no mention of the controversy that surrounded the choice of that design, which I remember being described a black gash of shame by some Vietnam veterans.

However, when the cameras panned onto Frederick Hart’s Three Soldiers, the narrator made no mention of who the sculptor was, nor why the statue was placed there.

Sad, isn’t it? Hart, who was responsible for some of the most prestigious, and highly visible figurative commissions of the last 20 years (Three Soldiers, the façade of the National Cathedral), probably only received national attention for his law suit against the movie “the Devil’s Advocate,” for plagiarizing his sculpture “Ex Nihlo.”

Look at all the attention Christo’s mindless pink plastic monstrosities get, or the delight that architects take in depositing little metal turds in front of their buildings, and one must wonder why the truly awe striking monumental public sculpture of the Three Soldiers can’t even get a nod of acknowledgement on the day honoring the subject for which it was created.

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Posted: 11 November 2007 04:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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I find situations like this all-the-time. Its terrible, really technical artists today are still highly valuable in film, but they dont get the credit they deserve. For example, Lord of the Rings, King Cong, and Jurrsaic Park, all employed brilliant artists. And those are jsut a few examples, almost every movie uses artists and thats NOT counting makeup artists and camera men ect. Film is the contemporary creative front but I have no idea who thses people are, I do however know the names of creators who layer a platinum skull with diamonds just to make a buck.

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Posted: 11 November 2007 11:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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First of all I will admit that my tastes in art or whatever subject requires a personal aesthetic opinion are hardly of the art-educated variety and thus usually considered ‘out-of-date’ or ‘out-of-touch’ or simply naive.  However it seems to me that the most valued pieces still being created today are those that either reflect some sort of primitive, native design or are those pieces produced by primitive, native peoples from isolated locations around the globe.  It seems to me that anything produced in the contemporary scene is just so overwrought by art-theory and modern human history that nothing actually qualifies as art anymore.  This may be because we are so caught up in art (of every kind from painting to music, from theatre to movies) that nothing has any real authentic impact anymore?  Is the impact of Christo’s “work” still phenomenal?  How about the impact of what used to be called ‘happenings’ - small, impromptu bits of acting that break out in certain locations but are completely improvised?  Are we being “U-tubed” to death?

I do feel that we are living in the midst of some of the most talented graphic-artists that this planet has ever known in all of the various artistic media, yet this is also a time when we can almost feel the death of art happening on a grand scale.  I know that if I tell someone that for me Salvador Dali’s work reached some sort of peak in artistic achievement, they will look at me as if I just said that last week I murdered 5 little children.  So what the heck do I know really, except what I feel?

Bob

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Posted: 12 November 2007 10:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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“I know that if I tell someone that for me Salvador Dali’s work reached some sort of peak in artistic achievement, they will look at me as if I just said that last week I murdered 5 little children.  So what the heck do I know really, except what I feel?”

This is somewhat similar to faith. I can explain all day why an eighteen foot tall canvas with one paint splatter in the corner is ten times the human accomplishment of your favorite Dali, and you will think I am crazy. I can talk about powerful workstations with multi-processors and graphics engines, and their superiority over celluloid and handwound cameras. And yet you still might prefer Keystone Kops to Toy Story.

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Posted: 12 November 2007 02:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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CanZen - 12 November 2007 04:40 AM

First of all I will admit that my tastes in art or whatever subject requires a personal aesthetic opinion are hardly of the art-educated variety and thus usually considered ‘out-of-date’ or ‘out-of-touch’ or simply naive.  I know that if I tell someone that for me Salvador Dali’s work reached some sort of peak in artistic achievement, they will look at me as if I just said that last week I murdered 5 little children.  So what the heck do I know really, except what I feel?

Bob

You are just as qualified to discuss art issues as a preist is to discuss faith. In other words there is no qualification for a valid point in the art arena. Great art is meant ot be seen and interpreted by anyone.
We have a phobia against commercial art, and here at art school its a major taboo. However commercial and mass media art supercedes all other creatons in effectivness (he technology of film and advetisements as ooposed to small installations in SoHo), quality, variety, and power (huge budgets, many collaborators). I hate to tell Adorno this but contemporary art makes the same effort to ‘hegemonize’ people as mass media, yet it is just far inferior.

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Posted: 12 November 2007 03:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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I’ve heard many people make the claim that the motion picture is the art form of the 20th century, but….

I’ve always had a bit of a problem with that assessment. While the I do feel that are an art form, I feel that they are more analogous to theater (obviously) or literature (when enjoyed at home). The point being that to enjoy a movie one must sit down and commit ones self to watching that movie. This is different from the enjoyment one can get from the more traditional media of painting and sculpture.

For instance, I have numerous little sculptures around my house, really little more than nick knacks. Now, I can give these things as little or as much attention as I please and still get pleasure from their presence. I can even move them into different locations, so as to see them in a new light. I can also get fairly complacent with them, even ignoring them for months, then suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, catch sight of them and feel as though I am discovering them anew.

This is intimacy with a work of art is difficult to achieve with a movie. True, you can watch a movie over and over again, but it is still something which you must make time to for. You must actively decide to spend time with it.

As you pointed out, the movies do employ many talented artist, but their contributions are more along the line of an illustrator, or even a comic book artist. Now don’t get me wrong, I love the work done in both of those idioms, but it is the rare artist whose work rises above the limitations of those mediums. A truly great illustration can be enjoyed separately from the text which it illustrates. The works of some illustrators, such as N.C. Wyeth, Norman Rockwell, and even, god help us, Frank Frazzetta, can transcend the text, and be enjoyed all on it’s own as an individual work of art. However, I’m not sure how well the works produced for movies has that ability. While I often enjoy the behind the scene look presented in books of “the Art of Star Wars” type, the enjoyment that I get from them is perhaps analogous to the studies an artist uses in preparation for a work. Interesting, yes. Powerful, sometimes, but always just pieces of a greater whole.

Even such things as WETA workshops magnificent (if pricey) collection of Lord of the Rings statuettes, as marvelous as they are, seem to be mostly dependent upon familiarity with either the films or the books. Some of the individual sculpts may be able to stand on their own, but I would hazard to guess that most of them are purchased for their connection to the film, rather than for their individual artistic merit. Much like a film poster, it is a memento of a thing, not a thing in and of it’s self.

Anyway, this is what the movies lack, the power of the individual image. The power to look upon one image, perhaps without even knowing what the image represents, and to let ones mind wander over it, perhaps creating a story for it’s self.

Movies also have a deficit in their attachment to certain place and time. While I can enjoy older movies, sometimes it’s difficult to come to grips with the conceits of the time. For instance, I recently watched “the Magnificent Seven,” and was surprised by just how corny it all seemed. The quaint little villagers, the overly obvious comic relief, etc, etc. Even though I could still enjoy the movie. It felt dated, almost quaint.

How different the portraits (perhaps the artistic genre most linked to a certain time) of Hals, Rembrandt, or Sargent. Even though the costumes firmly place them within a certain time, they still don’t feel particularly dated. The force of the expression still resonates with a viewer today.

A time will come when the special effects that so impress us will seem chintzy, but the mythological imagery of Dore and Reubens will still be impressive. A time will come when people will be completely baffled as to just why the “Scary Movie” franchise was considered funny (or is that time already here?) and the comic imagery of Heinrich Kley will still elicit a smile.

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Posted: 12 November 2007 04:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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mcalpine - 12 November 2007 03:09 PM

“I know that if I tell someone that for me Salvador Dali’s work reached some sort of peak in artistic achievement, they will look at me as if I just said that last week I murdered 5 little children.  So what the heck do I know really, except what I feel?”

This is somewhat similar to faith. I can explain all day why an eighteen foot tall canvas with one paint splatter in the corner is ten times the human accomplishment of your favorite Dali, and you will think I am crazy. I can talk about powerful workstations with multi-processors and graphics engines, and their superiority over celluloid and handwound cameras. And yet you still might prefer Keystone Kops to Toy Story.

Not even slightly similar to faith. Faith comes bundled with the claim that dire and eternal outcomes await those who put their faith in the wrong god. One’s taste in art or in photgraphic tools entails no such consequence.

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Posted: 12 November 2007 04:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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Well faith has many characteristics. Yes Faith makes outrages claims that implies ‘eternal’ and ‘dire’ consenquences (art does not), but faith also lives within the assertion of unsupported claims. If you read the artist statement of a contemporary atists you would realize that most of his jargon is unsupported within the peice.

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Posted: 12 November 2007 05:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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That’s true of much product advertising, as well. . . but since a willingness to be seduced by any given ad campaign carries with it no suggestion of afterlife consequences, it is not analogous to one who devotes their entire existence to the worship of a god with those consequences firmly in mind.

I would certainly suspect that those who accept the claims of scriptures would also be more susceptible to product slogans than a skeptic would, though.

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Posted: 12 November 2007 05:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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There is also a difference between how much time each ask of you. Artist only ask you to take the amount of time needed to enjoy their works. Religion asks you to devote your life to it.

You can enjoy as little or as much of a particular artist work as you find interesting. Religion insist that you buy into everything which they sell.

Artist only ask that you consider what it is they are trying to comunicate. You don’t even have to agree with them to enjoy it. Religion insist that you not only agree with them, but that you actively avow the veracity of it to everyone.

Artist don’t ask you to pick a sect. Even if you are an artist, and let’s say you identify yourself as a dadaist, that doesn’t mean that you are not allowed to enjoy works by a cubist. And cubist can enjoy impressionist, who can enjoy pre-raphaelites, who can enjoy the baroqe, and so on and so forth. Those of a particular faith, however, can be banned or excomunicated for expressing a favourable opinion about anther faith.

All in all, art is far superior to faith. cool smile

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Posted: 12 November 2007 08:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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Mia - 12 November 2007 10:00 PM

I would certainly suspect that those who accept the claims of scriptures would also be more susceptible to product slogans than a skeptic would, though.

-Definitley, art asks for much less than religion when we examine it on a micro level. However if we take the aggregate of ALL the art created for advertisments we have essentialy created a collection that serves capitalism. Although I am a capitalist I can see with great clarity how art today functions the same way it did several hundred years ago with religion.
The Sistine Chapel is an ad for Catholicism. When we look at it by itself we see that we still have the liberty to reject the dogma. If we stepped outside of the chapel and see that almost eveyr single work is a ad for religion than we suddenly submit to the mercy of religion, in the same way we do today with capitalism. (However in todays time things have changed for the most part with religion, if we lived 400 years ago the ananlogy would work.

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