..the view..


November 18, 2007 by Jo

Art is all in how you look at it.

This weekend we held one of our largest yearly fundraisers. It is an AMAZING event. We pick a home in one of our historic neighborhoods. We send invites to The List (this is very important). They RSVP. We move all of the art out of the home and move in over 300 pieces of work from over 100 artists. Then, we pARTy.

As we spent the week packing up, putting in, and hanging up, I realized that some of the art wasn’t necessarily art to me. Maybe it just didn’t get to me, maybe I thought it lacked technique, maybe I didn’t see a vision, maybe it wasn’t original enough…but some of the art just wasn’t art to me.

But…think again…

Art is relative. You look at a piece of work and it either gets you and you get it, or not. Maybe a large, bright, flowery piece didn’t grab my heartstrings, but the woman who bought it sure was pleased. I didn’t care for some of the more traditional work and yet out the door it went with a happy new owner.

Maybe I should approach more things in life with this outlook…

Yes, definitely, I should. My eyes should be trained to see what situations can be more relative. Make the connection.

Make the connection, Jo, make the connection.


3 thoughts on “..the view..

  1. Sarah says:

    Interesting but I think I disagree. Personally, I don’t think it’s an entirely subjective judgment or completely relative – taste is subjective, for sure, and certainly I’m very interested in exploring areas (of drawing in my case) which aren’t necessarily considered ‘art’, but I do think there are certain qualities inherent in good work which transcend subjective judgement, otherwise why would so many people be moved, or appreciate, the same works? I also think there is some danger in going down the path of extreme relativism – we can end up in a position where we no longer exercise any kind of critical discernment and I don’t think that’s particularly good for anyone – including artists.

    I don’t mean people (like the woman you talk of) should not be led by their own taste when buying something, but there’s also, for me anyway, room for and a need for evaluation which isn’t based solely on the idea that anything is art.

    Well that’s my two pennorth for the day!

  2. Jo says:

    I agree with your statement about extreme relativism, totally. There is a level of technique that comes into play and really matters. That doesn’t mean, though, that I have to like it. But what makes it art? For instance, I went to MoMA earlier this fall. One of the installation pieces was a TV and VCR on a metal stand with 7 video tapes. Each tape was labeled with a day of the week, and the TV screen simply read “friday” in black and white.How did something like that make it to MoMA? Who decided it was art?

    My point is more about the overall relativism of art to the general, un-art-educated public. It was also that I have a point of view that there are absolutes to everything and some situations require a more relative perspective…art was just the catalyst to help me realize that.

    I didn’t know that drawing isn’t necessarily art! Well darn. We sold plenty of drawings this weekend…at our art sale…

  3. Sarah says:

    Hallo again,

    and thanks for clarifying your point.

    I didn’t mean to imply you had to like it – I certainly don’t like everything I see, but liking it is a matter of taste, not of its merits, necessarily- except once we become ‘educated’ about art, then the two interact, I think.

    For me anyway, one of the purposes of art now (whether the intention of the artist or not), and historically has been to hopefully, invite the viewer to think about both the work and how we live our lives – and I hold all conceptual art against this yardstick. A lot for me falls down, because it’s simply a case of, like you said above, you either get it or you don’t, but when conceptual art is good then it stays with me. Something which comes to mind was the 2006 Turner Prize winner Simon Starling’s work ‘Shedboatshed’: before I saw it I wasn’t overly impressed – once I saw the work I completely understood both why it had won and why it really was art. It had a strong emotional impact – it wasn’t just a good idea.

    I’m oddly enough quite interested in the work you describe – because it seems to me that it might have something to do with the dominance of Tv in contemporary life, that would certainly fall within my personal remit for what constitutes art: the only problem though, is it sounds quite simplistic and possibly the artist is preaching to the converted, but as I haven’t seen it I’m speculating.

    It’s interesting you say you’re an absolutist – at least coming from this position on some things – I’m not, I tend to view everything in shades of grey (which means my opinions change quite a lot), but although I’m now an illustrator, I have a background in critical theory which influences my thinking – so too does a distrust of the current general tendency to call everything art – from sketches to a monumental sculpture. For me sketches may or may not have artistic merit, but calling it all art regardless, just seems to devalue everything.

    Maybe we should all reassert Gombrich’s words (former British art critic) ‘There really is no such thing as Art, there are only artists.’ – then we could just assess each artist and their work on his or her merits.

    re: drawing – I’m talking about styles the non-art educated public may not regard as art, at least in aesthetic terms, because they’re not always ‘beautiful’. Having said that we are now verging on the debate over whether illustration is art or not, so I think I’ll leave it there! 🙂

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