Saturday, September 03, 2005

Artsy Fartsy

My response to an article someone sent me on the issue of faith, art, Kinkade, sentimentality in art, etc.:

On Rothko and Kinkade (goodness, how did those two ever end up as co-subjects of a statement together?!), I think it is true that both elicit an emotional response from the viewer, but in my (not so) humble opinion, art is more than the ability of something to elicit an emotional response. I think that in order for art to be art, there has to be some sort of intent on the part of the artist, some sort of content. I'm not sure what that content or intent should be called, but it has to be more just doing it because it looks “cool”, will sell, etc. For example, J, N, T, and K were over at our house a few weeks ago, and the topic turned to this very subject. J referenced a news magazine type tv show he had seen. In this show, the reporter went into some really swank upscale New York clothing store and found a white t-shirt that had permanent wrinkles in it. Just a plain white t-shirt manufactured in such a way that you could not get the wrinkles out of it because this is, apparently, the style ("hey, I'm finally dressing in style!"). It was selling for something silly like $500 or so. The reporter, wanting to do some sort of expose' on how modern art is a rip-off or whatever, decided to buy the shirt frame it with the price tag still hanging on the shirt in such a way that you could see the price under the glass of the frame, and take his 'art' to local galleries and see if they would display it. (I guess the intent was to say how artists aren't really doing anything special; any of us could 'create' modern art) Galleries wouldn't hang it, because they didn't think it was art. But here's the important part of the example, the reason I typed in this whole example. R (the only artist of the 6 of us who were having this discussion) pointed out that the concept was, at least potentially, beautiful. She thought it could be a good piece of art. The reason it wasn't, and the reason that gallery owners wouldn't show it had nothing really to do with the physical object the reporter had brought in, it had nothing to do with whether it could elicit an emotional reaction (it probably could). It was because when they asked him about his work, he had no answer. Behind the physical object, there was no content. No reason for him creating this thing, other than to pretend to be all 'artsy' (and presumably show the modern art world for what it is – a scam out to rip you off). Had another person set out to make a statement about consumer culture, or superficial value judgments we place on things and people, or our desire to fit into an arbitrary social pecking order, this very same physical object would be art, and potentially good art. But that content was not there. It was simply an empty expression.

That's (one reason, at least) why, though both have the ability to elicit an emotional response from the viewer, Rothko is an artist and Kinkade is not.


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