A test for Art.

Heres an interesting aside, a smidgeon of ‘something else’ to add some levity to the usual shenanigans called our preoccupations (ie web / trump / climate).

I’ve taken to looking at art books these last few days, the blanket nothing-ness of Christmas is proving its toll and I need nourishment. Apart from the sumptuous, educating and beautiful six parter Peter Philips ‘Polyphony’ on BBC r3 late evenings not much from the ordinary to engage me radio-wise. However the dreaded Christmas Day was quite good, well done bbc r3. Considering their library of material and skills as broadcasters it really would have taken a great effort to screw it up.

Plenty of art books here, plenty of art too that I’ve made twenty and thirty years ago, lots to engage any conversation if anyone were to visit or get access to my activities. As I’ve stated previously our web hours seldom if ever serves us any art (or images from past decades and centuries) …. of value, yet pick up a book or an encyclopedia and instantly dozens of incredible images, forms and ideas fly into our vision. I’m into planning and architecture too, I suppose all developments of human thought and ability, often the web is like peering through the thinnest of cracks in a broken door yet pick up a book and theres a feast for your mind, you instantly learn new things.

Point of this post is figuring out how to test for Art, how to evaluate a piece of nonsense presented as of merit. A case in point being trying to figure out a household where a family member makes a point to emphasise her new degree yet all around theres utterly nothing to reveal such an interest, walls bare, no book in sight. I think we’ve got a little bit of the emperors new clothes creeping in here. We have tv, we have phones and handy personal transport but does it make us work and study any better  …  I think not. So where is the Masterwork of this handy person? A masterpiece is a very old term indeed, ask any watchmaker or skilled time served worker of three hundred years ago. It will have carefulness and veer toward perfection; yet I enter the house in question and all I can recall is seeing something that looks likely, a homemade five minute drunken scribble masquerading as art. Depth ability and genuine effort seem in short supply.

My test for Art :-

  • You should immediately be able to tell which person produced it with only the merest acquaintance of the ppl involved as you enter the home. Which family member is likely to have done this, the six year old now fast asleep, or the demented grannie coping with her last years ? Can we tell ?
  • Can you instinctively put a name to it, a maker, a style of execution. Usually we can if it is cooking or needlework or handicraft … or why is the adept working so hard to conceal their supposed knowledge and enthusiasm of which I am increasingly sceptical? How much tackle is involved in its production, a work area, if none of these things present then i wonder.
  • Is this the remains of an art therapy session for someone injured or seeking recovery ? Scribble scribble, colour colour ….
  • Is this the only thing they’ve ever done now proudly or desperately displayed as a Masterwork; what is the hinterland we are drawing from? None? Ask ‘explain this to me’ … Can they speak for five minutes on this piece … I reckon not. Its all a charade in the particular case I’m thinking of.
  • Genuine application (ie our supposed ‘degree’ person) is sadly wanting,  not some few minutes  wannabe artist wishing to create an aura …  glib waffle to impress the check-out girl and strangers.
  • One hour is not a thousand hours. Please!
  • What knowledge, insight or craft was entailed in its production, show me your portfolio, your effort. Increasing ability with practice and effort.
  • What is the dialogue for this piece, references, developments, a body of work, an ongoing conversation, next step ?
  • Have a child make a copy, could anyone tell the difference?

The answer to this  (from my viewpoint a year later) … is go for the jugular … show me your portfolio, your development, your books and notes. Your enthusiasm.  Talk to me about it. In other words I’ve been duped and this is why I am so angry about this. These are wannabes and fantasists wishing to impress the girl at the checkout or a passing neighbour.  I am mighty vexed its assumed I’ll tag along with the fantasy, I don’t mind ppl acting a part or being pretentious, it generally always looks silly and raises a smile but I do not like it assumed I am taken in by this; trying to weave me into their dumb web. Thats two big scams I can put a name to for the same couple.

This highlights a problem I see more of, ppl kidding us they are something they are not. Its getting worse.

I’m all for people playing around harmlessly and maybe even learning something, hopefully to appreciate the value of books (ie a bound collection of information compiled by an expert) …  but what vexes me profoundly is nonsense, non-performance dressed up as something else, a self deluding pretension or mirage of greater things. All my reading, all my effort and I have adults playing as if children to perpetuate a no-hoper blind fantasy.

And once you hear “Oh I don’t read books!” then you know its time to quit.

postscript … something I wrote this summer … https://climate-change-briefing.com/2018/08/19/we-need-art/


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