“Leaders establish the vision for the future and set the strategy for getting there,” John P. Kotter (The Painter’s Keys)
Where is the next great art movement? Are artists today struggling through a crisis of ideas or is it art in general? Are artists mimicking other artists or variations of other movements? Is painting dead, replaced by the computer generation? Or perhaps the answer is something entirely different
There are artists who are doing new and exciting things yet are not getting traction in a wider market. The answer may be less a question for artists as one for the general public. The lack of interest in original art is widespread and likely more indicative of societal issues than artistic ones.
The blog, Art Moscow
, asks, “Where are all the geniuses?” I am not convinced it is geniuses we need. They are out there. The issue, to me, seems to be a lack of leadership. There are no driving forces in art today, no cohesion. What is lacking is an Alfred Stieglitz
to organize and promote the latest art, someone who can bring together the geniuses and show them to the world. Rather than artistic geniuses, it is promotional and leadership geniuses that are needed.
Where are the lines between Art and Craft?
The fall Art and Craft fairs are in full swing now. Who decides whether it is Art or Craft? Are there a set of rules that say this is craft and that is art? The debate has raged on and on with no definitive answers. A search turns up numerous articles and forums on the subject.
Attending the Tennessee Arts and Crafts Fair in Centennial Park in Nashville, Tennessee yesterday, I walked around with this idea in mind. Could I distinguish which was which? Sometimes. More often, items seemed to be both.
The blog, Divine Caroline has an article written by Mary Francis. Francis says, “This entire discussion is particularly touchy in an artistic world where a lot of the products can be gasp useful (like quilts, or wearable art or jewelry) but does its use and technique demean it as art? Personally, I don’t think so.” Maybe it is in the eye of the beholder.
The lines between art and craft are very blurry at times. It is and, perhaps, always will be a matter of opinion. You be the judge.
Ceramic artist David Gurney talks about the difference on a You Tube video here
“It has the quality of appearing to recede into the picture’s distant plain (sic) (un)like other yellows that sit in front of the plain(sic).”– Pigments Through The Ages
All of the Naples colors are favorites of mine but especially Naples Yellow. I just love it. It squishes so nicely. Naples Yellow mixes well with just about all the colors of a sunset, even purple. Naples Yellow is one of those colors I will drive miles to get if running low. Could there be anything worse than being forced to paint without Naples Yellow?
Apparently, Naples Yellow has been around for quite some time. It has been found in ceramic glazes of pottery found in ancient Babylon from 1500 B.C. Most of the Old Master’s worked with Naples Yellow. The websites of Winsor Newton, Gamblin and Golden all state it was originally made from lead antimoniate but all three makers use various synthetic chemicals to simulate the original color today. Winsor Newton’s website says” Its name probably comes from its presence as a natural deposit that could be found in the volcanic earth of Mount Vesuvius, a volcano on the bay of Naples.”
Naples Yellow is so popular it has its own Facebook page! Who knew?? I guess lots of artists would drive miles to get Naples Yellow.
“The arts have an extraordinary ability to enhance our lives, to help us heal, and to bring comfort in times of great stress.”–Dana Gioia, NEA Chairman, 2003, (from Creativity in Healthcare.com)
How would you like to sit before a painting of what looks like bleeding clouds while waiting to have medical tests? My friend, Sue, related this story to me from her personal experience. Do artists consider the potential audience when creating? Does it matter? Do designers consider the audience over whether or not an art piece works on a wall?
It was an issue that came up in The Art to Heart Project, (more here). Artists were given selection criteria for art based on the research of Dr. Roger S. Ulrich and others about the effects on patients when viewing certain types of art. As we measured the effects of the art on patient ambulation in our project, we didn’t want negative responses to the art to influence the outcome. Once artists understood that reasoning, they created on these guidelines with very little difference in their process. All the artists described the experience of creating for a patient population to be gratifying.
If the bleeding cloud artist did not know where the painting was going once sold, then the designer made the choice. In either case, did anybody stop to think of the potential mindset of the viewers? Bleeding Clouds might be interesting in some places but probably not in a doctor’s office. Which would help you relax while waiting for your medical test results: bleeding clouds or a forest of green trees?
“Any sort of pretension produces mediocrity in life and in art.” Margot Fonteyn (from brainy quotes)
While walking around at a large art exhibit, (see “Voices”), my friend and I overheard various comments and opinions on the art. One conversation left us so puzzled that it continues to produce a smile even now. It was the perfect stereotype of a conversation many people, think goes on at an art exhibit.
Two people are standing in front of a large abstract painting. Each is holding a glass of wine while discussing the painting. As we leaned in to listen, one said to the other, “But is it ethically valid?” My friend and I looked back at the painting while trying to contain our confusion. “Huh?”
I’m thinking, “Hmmm. Ethical and valid. What does that have to do with this painting?” Maybe the title gave an indication but I couldn’t see the title. I lost track of the beauty of the piece in trying to figure what that statement could possibly mean in relation to the painting. I’m still shaking my head years later. Maybe others can enlighten me. I didn’t get it.
Evidently mom was right when she said, “Talking too much and eavesdropping can both have unintended consequences.” I didn’t realize at the time, she was referring to art.
Does art speak for itself?
“It takes courage to paint, to express yourself that way and put it out there for others to see and comment on.”–Carla Neggers–The Rapids, pg 361-62
Occasionally, a statement in an unlikely place can jump out and grab your attention. The above quote, in a suspense fiction novel, provoked such a response. It does take courage for an artist to put art out there for others to comment on. Comments can warm the heart. Comments can hurt. Sometimes, comments just baffle. Yet artists continue to put art out there exposing themselves to the various opinions of others.
At a large gallery opening several years ago, a friend and I wandered around picking up on the conversations of others about the exhibited art. Many times it was difficult to understand what the heck people were talking about! Some of what we heard was down right funny. Other comments were very interesting, good and bad. We heard a full range.
When artists hear these comments, what are they feeling? It may depend on the artist. A film on Georgia O’Keeffe late in her life asked her how she felt when critics wrote about her work. Her response, “I never read what critics say.” It takes courage for artists to continue to express themselves in their work regardless of what others say, even though it might stick in your thoughts. Perhaps, it’s better to ignore the voices in your head, in this case. The rest of the time you’re on your own!
“It is in this sense, I believe, that the field of education has much to learn from the arts about the practice of education.” Elliot Eisner (from infed.org)
Artists regularly utilizing drawing in their work know it sharpens visual skills and heightens awareness of the focused subject. Science is coming around to that awareness, as well, thanks to innovative science instructors like North Carolina State University’s Jennifer Landon. Art Plantae Today has an excellent interview with Landon. Left- brain scientists are embracing right -brain art.
Landon is an instructor of biology and requires her students to participate in regular drawing activities. She set out to prove that participation in drawing would enhance student knowledge of biology. Art Plantae will be following with the results.
Having taught botanical drawing for several years, I can see that Landon is likely right. Once I began to draw more flora and fauna, I developed enhanced awareness of growth, color, shape and more. My guess is that many other visual artists and photographers would say the same.
The evidence is increasingly proving: right -brain or left -brain, we really need both.
“Nothing changes until something moves.” Albert Einstein (from The Painter’s Keys)
Does art have the ability to move people to action? Do actions move artists to create? Would anything move without art? It may depend on the art and on the audience. Perhaps it is the artist’s role to tap into the emotions of the audience, give it voice and lead the inspiration to move.
In a blog titled Sci Art Sci, the author delves in to the question of whether art can move people not already inclined to be moved. He describes an example of an art project designed to highlight a particular issue. He follows his example with the statement, “…I would say this piece has the potential to raise an eyebrow, to make somebody who already cares care a little bit more, for a time. And maybe that’s enough.” Maybe it is. Sometimes a fire only needs a spark.
Recalling some of the movements of the nineteenth century, art is very much a part of the history of the moment. Eugene Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People (more here) is one example of art as part of a movement. Did this painting inspire greater nationalism? Or was it an illustration of the moment? Examples abound of art and movements. Does art provide the spark to a dry woodpile that sets it alight? Or the other way around? Any thoughts?
Ever wonder what art thieves do with stolen priceless art? Me too. You can’t buy a home, car or anything tangible with the stolen art. Its not currency. Why rob a museum when you can rob a bank? The security is similar. Most major works stolen can never be displayed anywhere. They can’t be easily resold or insured.
The New York Times has an article today on the company with the best success rate for recovery of stolen art, Art Loss. Apparently, some museums and collectors are unable to afford the usually high cost of recovery. The company’s founder, Julian Radcliffe says recovery can require elaborate and expensive sting operations. He states the agency is not profitable due to the high cost of operation. Art Loss runs an extensive database of stolen art utilized by multiple law enforcement agencies including the FBI’s art theft division, (read more on the division’s work at the link).
The Guardian newspaper runs a regular feature on art theft and has recently been covering the theft from The Netherlands of major works by Picasso, Monet, Matisse and Gauguin by a Romanian group. These thieves may have burned the priceless works once they found themselves unable to resell them.
The theft of Munch’s The Scream from Norway generated much publicity and the thieves were soon caught. The painting was recovered. How did these thieves think they were going to dispose of the painting? It’s so well known posters of The Scream are sold at Overstock.com and many other stores. Evidently, some of these guys are so smart they can thwart sophisticated security but are too dumb to know what to do next. Unfortunately, not all are so dumb and the The Thomas Crowne Affair is not a true story.
“You can’t do sketches enough. Sketch everything and keep your curiosity fresh.”
John Singer Sargent (from Brainyquotes)
Sketching is vital to developing artistic vision. For some artists it requires focus and discipline. For others, sketching is the artistic vision. As sketching evolves by the hand of the later, it gains an energy and drama that is quite compelling.
The blog, Doodlemum, is one such example. The artist’s doodles became the story of the artist’s life. The richness and poignancy of the work is immensely compelling. We want to be in Doodlemum’s life. Doodlemum’s doodles went on to become a book. Doodlemum’s doodles will inspire artistic vision and bring on a smile.
It is not always easy to make the effort to prepare for painting by making preliminary sketches. If there is an image in the artist’s head, it can be difficult to slow down the process and take the time to develop the concept through sketching before picking up a brush. How many frustrations can be avoided by taking the time to expand the “head” image by sketching first? And who knows, our sketchbooks may just take on lives of their own!