Art Soup

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“Art for art’s sake is a philosophy of the well-fed.” Frank Lloyd Wright (from Brainyquote)

Creating art that is aimless loses the meaning and purpose of art.  Much of the art of the 20th Century fits into the category of art for art’s sake.  It has no meaning, no goal and very little value to the human soul.  20th Century art has been about art for art’s sake.  Some has been about what the artist can do with paint or objects.  Other art was about thumbing the nose at what is art.  The Dada movement is one such movement.  Abstract Expressionists were all about what they could do with paint.  Andy Warhol was about Andy Warhol.  Art became novelty driven.  The well-fed have been running the art world for much of the past one hundred years.  The art of the well-fed has lost all its nutritional value.

Art can be and is uplifting, edifying and nourishing to the human soul.  The novelty- driven miss this key point.  Truly fine art reaches inside and touches the depths of the soul.  It feeds the spirit.  “I propose that art is nutrition for the human spirit,” says the writer of  If this statement is true, what have we been fed for the last one hundred years in art?  Abstract Expressionism may be nourishment but is it good nourishment.  Is Dada healthy fruits and vegetables or junk food?  If we “are what we eat” then what have we become in the art world?

As art disperses from the traditional centers for art and out into the vast networks of local and regional art galleries, festivals and fairs, it has become better food for the soul.  Many artists are making a point to be soul-nourishing in their art.  “Our intention is make art for the soul to make the beholder feel good and for the beholder to enjoy,” is the stated intent on the website, Intentional Art for the Soul.  It seems absurd to think Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollack and their contemporaries ever intended to help the beholder “feel good.”  Many 20th Century artists fed viewers a steady diet of junk food.  It tastes great at the time but has little long-term benefit.  Now is the time to throw off the junk food and go for a nice big pot of nourishing art soup.

Author: MaryGwyn

Artist-Art Educator-Art in Healthcare

6 thoughts on “Art Soup”

  1. Oh, well, you know I’m going to agree with you! I think the democratisation of art is fantastic, there is such a huge explosion of creativity which is taking art back from being the preserve of the super-rich (who I often think have appalling taste and buy art as a posssession and vanity rather than for love of art) and back into the arms of the people who, I feel, are very appreciative of the art springing up and spreading in their midst. I’ve got no time for people who buy art to show how wonderful they are or how much money they have or pretending they know about art, especially when I see rubbish being set up as art, when there’s no heart it.

  2. Well, I was shocked at first when I relocated from Europe to Canada because from what I could see around in North America, art was mostly technique, total resemblance of reality or complete abstracts exploring how one color, texture or spot looks on another. When you look closer at some perfectly done works, all there is is mostly technical perfection. There is very little emotional involvement. I don’t think it’s even included in some artists goals: to cause a spiritual experience or some feelings in the viewer. The decorative art means to match the color of trendy interiors, the fine art means copying photos or reality, or implementing something not normal (better strange or very strange) at any price, like painting huge vegetables in a normal landscape, adding separate parts of the object around the painting or placing something not normally existing in the scene. That’s very often what the art looks like: somebody tries really hard to make art for the sake of art and achieve some kind of originality.When we look back through the art history, we can notice that this (style, genre, approach, etc.) has already been at some time: sometimes because the artist couldn’t do any better or sometimes because it was required by the social moral and standards. There is emotionally uplifting art, it’s just not always promoted or even recognized that emotions triggered by an artwork are very important part of art experience, if not the most important.

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