Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Life and Times of a Graffiti Artist

I thought it would be interesting to address graffiti's growing status as a means of expression in the art world. Some people may scoff and call it low art, but there is no denying that it is rapidly gaining popularity. Banksy (who, if you can't tell by now, is one of my idols) can sell a piece for hundreds of thousands of dollars, but still chooses to go out on the streets at night to spray paint modern day Mona Lisa's. What street art has accomplished is the opening up of art to the masses, making the streets into a virtual (art) gallery. Art is no longer just for the wealthy anymore, but for the working man as well. Be you a businessman or homeless person, anyone who walks past a bit of street art can appreciate it.

I'll end with a section taken from Banksy's "Wall and Piece" on the subject of graffiti…

"I'm going to speak my mind, so this won't take very long.

Despite what they say graffiti is not the lowest form of art. Although you might have to creep about at night and lie to your mum it's actually one of the more honest art forms available. There is no elitism or hype, it exhibits on the best walls a town has to offer and nobody is put off by the price of admission.

A wall has always been the best place to publish your work.

The people who run our cities don't understand graffiti because they think nothing has the right to exist unless it makes a profit, which makes their opinions worthless.

They say graffiti frightens people and is symbolic of the decline in society, but graffiti is only dangerous in the mind of three types of people; politicians, advertising executives and graffiti writers.

 The people who truly deface our neighborhoods are the companies that scrawl giant slogans across buildings and buses trying to make us feel inadequate unless we buy their stuff. They expect to be able to shout their message in your face from every available surface but you're never allowed to answer back. Well, they started the fight and the wall is the weapon of choice to hit them back.

Some people become cops because they want to make the world a better place. Some people become vandals because they want to make the world a better looking place." -Banksy


The Final Frontier (or Lack There Of)

Modernists often defy traditionalists with their works as they seek to open up the general definition of art. The traditionalists of course see this as threatening to society at large, because if humans were free to do whatever they desired, chaos would reign. I think the solution to the two opposing viewpoints is to synthesize a new view on art, one that respects the old ways but builds upon them in an organic way to create something that fills contemporary. That being said, the greater narrative of art has seemingly ended in as much as there are no rules to dictate what is created. This may seem scary at first (as I'm sure the traditionalists would agree), but the idea of an open-ended view of art provides us boundless opportunities for expression (be they personal or cultural). Who knows what exciting things can spring forth from such a climate? So, I leave you with this question. Has the last frontier been tamed (in regards to art)?

"Street Art Created by the Graffiti Artist Space Invader"

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Rise and Fall of Genius

Kant had an instrumental role in defining modern aesthetics, but he also had a specific view of genius as well. To him, genius takes the place of rules (or even becomes the rules). That being said, genius without taste leads to what Kant defines as "original nonsense." One cannot become a genius out of sheer force of will, he/she must have genius inherent within them from the start. In other words, genius can only be discovered, not created. Kant warns to be careful though not to confuse genius with simple talent, as talent is merely the capacity to do something. The idea of genius extends far beyond talent, allowing an artist to express aesthetic ideas that carries us beyond ourselves. So, who would you consider a genius? How far can a genius go before they stray into creating original nonsense?

"Is 'Yeezus' (Kanye West) Genius, or just Original Nonsense?"

A World of Pure Imagination

During the course, we discussed how imagination and art are intertwined with each other. The human imagination needs art, or rather takes on the form of art, to make its expression more concrete. Without the imagination, people would merely drudge through their daily routine and have duller existences. Art is humanity's way to escape the blandness of life, answering an inherent need within us for expression. In art, there is a sense of play that we often lack which allows us to create a seemingly endless amount of possibilities. So, should we not work hard to foster that creativity? Can humans experience a full and happy life without art?

"Pure Imagination" from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

The Aesthetics of T.M.C.

While it has become a running joke that Thomas More College's Academic Building is the ugliest building in existence, it actually has an interesting architectural and aesthetic story.  If you have any knowledge of the history of architecture, TMC is actually pretty interesting.  The main academic building was built in 1968 and actually can be seen as a bit of a transitional piece.  The style that first comes to mind is probably "Brutalism", a style popular in the early 70s known for its emphasis on heavy imposing building, using a lot of concrete.  The best example of this is probably the NKU's 1972 Nunn Hall.
Notice the minimal windows, brutalism was not meant to be inviting but imposing.
Now compare this with TMC's main building, built only 4 years prior.  

Certainly the scale of TMC was much smaller, but it also shows a few influences from mid-century modern, such as the distinctive roof on the library that seemingly floats on glass.  Mid century modern architecture often emphasized unique angles and seemingly gravity defying architecture that is seen here.  The architects of TMC actually were honored for their work! Here is an interesting article about their intentions with the buildings' designs....

The Tacky Joys of Show Choir

"Tackiness" it seems to be a phrase we throw around a lot.  I myself am completely guilty of this(especially when i am describing a certain color being painted in a certain college building), but it really is something that is up to interpretation.  One form of entertainment that is undeniably tacky is the competition art that is show choir.  I had the privilege of doing show choir for 2 years in high school and it always was a blast.
Me during my senior year of H.S. can you find me among all the sequins?
Is tacky always aesthetically displeasing? I don't think this is necessarily the case! After all tacky is a very subjective term.  There is a certain joy that comes with something colorful, brash and cheesy.  Movie musicals, corny comedies, and variety television can make us all smile. Maybe "tackiness" is just be a word for fun art that doesn't make you think.

Jeff Lynne and The Electric Light Orchestra

One of rock's unsung heroes (in my opinion) is Jeff Lynne a British producer/musician who is best known for leading the prog rock/symphonic rock/art rock/pop rock band Electric Light Orchestra(or E.L.O.) If you don't think you've heard of E.L.O. before listen to the song "Mr. Blue Sky", its been featured in numerous movies and commercials.

Other famous hits include "Evil Woman" and "Don't Bring Me Down".  Jeff Lynne surprising actually cannot read music and actually plays and arranges everything by ear, which is impressive when one thinks of the lush orchestral arrangements of E.L.O..  I certainly am of the opinion the Jeff Lynne should be considered a modern genius, thought E.L.O. is dismissed by rock critics as fluffy and "not real rock" many of their innovations are still seen today, such overdubbed vocals, heavy synth work, and laser lights at concerts.  But what makes Lynne even more remarkable is that as a producer and writer his work is prolific.  He has produced such great figures as George Harrison, Tom Petty (including the hit "Free Falling"), and even Regina Spektor.  He also was a memebr of the remarkable 1980s "super group" The Traveling Wilburys.  It is interesting that someone who has contributed so much to the world of music is relatively unknown to most people. I leave you with one of my favorite tracks by E.L.O. the dance beat infused "Sweat Talking Woman"...

Any thoughts?

Art As a Gateway to the Sacred

In the two millennia that Christianity has existed, art has played an ever vital role in the lives of the faithful.  Christian art developed early in the history of the church, with symbols, such as fish or lamb to  represent Christ and/or Christian communities.  However, once Christianity became an established religion, the world of Christian art exploded.  Many fine pieces of this early art remain today, such as mosaics and stain glass windows.  These impressive depictions were created to transport the worshiper from an earthly state to a divine experience, or heaven on earth.  Something we are all very familiar with, cathedrals, are considered to be some of the most impressive structures built to this day and they themselves are considered artwork. These churches were filled with statues and stained glass, not only to create a celestial atmosphere, but also to tell as story.  During the middle ages, an overwhelming majority of the population was illiterate, therefore churches began to teach through art.  These statues and stained glass are meant to tell the story of the Old Testament, Christ, and Church doctrine, making it easier for people to understand their religious beliefs.  I find religious art to be a fascinating addition to the art world.  It serves such an important role in the church and in many ways allows people to strengthen their faith.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Blog #12 Nov. 19th

Cultural Differences
      If there is one thing this course has made me do, that would be thinking about how other cultures differ from our own.  In what ways are they different than us?  What structure do they have for society?  How do they view things there in an aesthetic sense?  It is important to learn about other cultures because they give us a new window of opportunity of viewing other people.  I would like to see how those people see things like Worhols and Picassos.  Would these just be colorful confusing artworks, or would they see a universal meaning?  Would these people view these things and see something instantaneously without even thinking about it?  These are the things that could define someone as a genius.  Producing a universal image that is aesthetically pleasing to an audience, any audience.  Moving people from different: political, racial, geographic, and cultural backgrounds into seeing something they can understand even speaking another language.  Is this wrong?  My definition of genius at least?...any comments/suggestions?  

Blog #11 Nov. 7th

We had talked about a lot of different things in these couple weeks of class and still talking about the idea of genius and how one can be genius; whether it lies in the conscious or unconscious part of our mind.  I could say that I am a genius and it could mean nothing because in most ways I could not prove it, while an artist could display their skills and ability by creating something brilliant.  However, does that make them a genius?  If producing an amazing piece of artwork does not constitute you as a genius, then what does?  To be considered as one, you cannot be aware of it or try to create a certain thing because it would attract have to do it because you do it (being guided or inspired to do a certain thing could give you the title of being a genius).  Not many people are satisfied with a piece that is an "original" (which might be why Sun Ra gained attention...but I digress).  People always want brand new and things never seen before.  People are trying though to give people what they want and in turn it is conscious of what they want to produce rather than letting it come naturally to them (unconscious).  If you ask me, I know who is a genius....Bob Ross (you may know him as the "happy tree" guy.

So is this guy a genius because he does his work frrr flowing with little thought at all?  You tell me.

Blog #10 October 31st

I'm an avid country fan...VCDC was not country.  I didn't know what to expect when I walked into the room.  I was really thrown off when things started to actually play together and flow.  I was shocked at how such weird noises could mash together and create such an interesting sound that was actually aesthetically pleasing to my ears.  I liked the abstract approach you have to take to listen to the music because it makes you realize how mainstream music is...I doubt they'll be making a VCDC based radio station anytime soon.   Nevertheless, I loved the complex sounds and atmosphere that they brought with their music because the audience acted differently than any concert I had ever been to.  My question would be what do we consider music and where is the line of what is and is not music?  What line do we draw?  This is an interesting thought because it would challenge possibly what VCDC is doing and the composition of songs.

Blog #9 October 24th

Sun Ra
      My dear god, we watched the Sun Ra video(s) in class and the guy was an absolute nut case!  His music was something nobody had ever seen and claimed he was from another planet come to shed his influence on everyone of Earth.  People enjoyed it because it was a statement and most people thought it was a black rights movement, this was not the case.  Although I don't enjoy the music, at all, I liked very much how humble he was about not needing to go to a bigger audience.  Sun Ra's documentary was really interesting thinking in the sense of being aesthetic  because they were all thinking about and trying out new methods, sounds, and genres of music.  It just amazes me that he made such an impact as an entertainer and an individual because he was so weird and outlandish with his music.  He was very consistent, very serious, and very passionate.  All about the cosmos and showing people a new way to view the reality we built up for ourselves. To me, that is very aesthetically pleasing.  I watched a few minuted of his movie "Space is the Place"  Pretty interesting though.

Blog #8 Oct. 17th

In class we talked about the components of genius...this tied with the topic of the week very ironically to me.  Egocentric artists are a real problem as we see that the up-and-coming artists are basically in it for the fame and money that comes along with their talents.  Talent is probably the best word for the ones that use their skill set to make profit off of it while the ones with the GIFT use it to take their style and revolutionize the way we (the general audience) views it.  By using their genius to change lives and viewpoints, pay should be irrelevant, as the master motive should be forever the way their audience views their work.  If they use their genius to produce a work of art that is reproduced for hundreds of years, or viewed and protected, then they probably lived the right way and used their gift in the right sense.  If an artist says they are genius, however, it creates a stir and makes others stereotype what genius is.  So then what exactly is genius? Is it ability, is it knowledge, is it a way of life?  Can someone be a genius if it is a conscious thing for them, or rather, is in an unconscious reality that comes about from their style of artwork?  I would personally like to think that it is all unconscious, but you never really know with artists these days.

This quote made me laugh thinking about artists that say they are in touch with genius:
“I'm a misunderstood genius."
"What's misunderstood?"
"Nobody thinks I'm a genius.” 
      --Bill Watterson

Blog #7 Oct. 8th

We watched the Picasso video in class and what bothered me was the part where it shows him drawing a "masterpiece" on a translucent page so we could see the exact steps it took to get the finished product.  I'm not saying that the artwork he produced wasn't amazing and historical, however, I was not impressed to see how quickly he created an image and it looked somewhat cool.  His finished product in the video was not impressive to me.  That being said, we protect artists like him as if he had properties of a god.  This is a little bit too much for me to comprehend.  In my opinion, Pablo Picasso's works were somewhat of a cognitive overload for anyone looking at them.  The figures were very complex as well as the color he used to express the images.  This, to me, is something that makes art ugly or unappealing.  I have been yelled at multiple times for referring to his paintings as "cognitive overload" and said I can't respect good artwork.  I disagree (of course) because if it doesn't do anything to me aesthetically, then there is nothing I can really do to change the way that I view it.  If anyone says Picasso's works are better than Leonardo da Vinci's...we can have a nice discussion about it outside class.
I apologize, but this is just too much cognitive load for my brain to enjoy

Blog #6 Oct. 1st

There was a chapter of Scharfstein that was very interesting about artists leaving their mark on the work that they do.  Sometimes a piece is worth way more money if it has their mark on it while some artists in the chapter protested putting their names on a piece because it took away from the sentimental value if others just idolized it because of the price.  These people were considered to be "anonymous craftsmen" and stayed true to what they believed in...their art and their morality.  This is respectable because art should be popular because it is aesthetically pleasing to an individual, not because all of his/her friends are buying the pieces.  This reminded me of the conversation we had in class about the guys who bought Andy Worhol paintings and defended why they bought them.  The snarky British critic was hysterical in his explanation of the Worhols they bought seeing them as simple pieces anyone could create made out of materials we all use.  It is people like that who keep the art business going because they make a big deal out of famous artists and basically determine what is "good art" and what is not.  That is a sad realization because it takes away from the true passionate artists that are being overlooked.  Should we just sit back and let this happen or move to have more artists that are content with being anonymous?
        I would personally like to have marks/names taken off famous works and see if regular people could identify who they were created by as well as identify the true meaning behind the work....that would be comical I'm sure.

Blog #5 Sept. 24th

Our class discussion made me consider a lot of things about the artworld.  I never considered people making millions of dollars on copies or even just taking up a style similar to a famous artist and calling it their own.  I honestly feel like it must happen more often than not and that is degrading to  the original artist who built up such a portfolio that made people desire their pieces of work.  My real question it still considered a work of art if it was in a style that another artist created?  What makes a piece artwork then?  It shouldn't have to be an original because it still got inspiration and still has an alternative meaning right?  How will we tell if it was a fake or not if you've never heard of the artist to begin with.  (Example: an up and coming artist has forgeries all over after his/her pieces were released to the public and begins getting popular).  Is that a sign of popularity that the pieces were reproduced or a sign of disrespect?  To me, it is taking away money from the artist but you should not be in art for selling their works.  So yes, it is a sign of respect to have your work reproduced and advertised, even though it is unfair.

This article was very interesting to show some of the top forgerie artists.  People that can make a living off the popularity of another...crazy. Maybe we should all just do this.

Blog #4 Sept. 17

“Sometimes people are beautiful.
Not in looks.
Not in what they say.
Just in what they are.” 
--Mark Zusak

Is this the same for artwork? because we see each other in this sense, do we see them that way because of the clothes or the makeup (which could equally be considered art and in (or enhancing agents for beauty purposes).  This is a timeless argument that I constantly think people on a daily basis.  When you take a girl out and she doesn't have make up on...some would consider her less attractive, however, this is what artists do with paintings.  They put more things on a canvas to bring out an underlying image that could otherwise be overlooked.  Let that be the paint on a canvas, just like make up, it causes us to see something in another way than we regularly would (no make up on a face compared to a blank canvas for a painter).  Or should be be judging beauty of a work of art in the meaning, underlying message, or statement it's trying to stand for (which would be like saying we respect someone because of their support of fighting breast cancer) Can a piece of artwork be beautiful because it does this?  Like an add of some sort.  I don't know; the discussion in class was very interesting and included something along these lines.  Just food for thought.

Is Warhol's Art Worth its Weight in Wigs?

In class we watched the clip of a critic addressing Warhol's works, and there were definitely no punches pulled. He claimed that Warhol was among one of the stupidest people he had ever met, and questioned why anyone would wish to by into such nonsense. Now, I personally like Warhol as he helped to usher in the age of pop art and change the artistic climate of the time. He also inspired many other artists that had a great effect on contemporary music, most notably David Bowie and the Velvet Underground. So you may hate Warhol and his soup cans, but can you deny that the likes of Bowie and the Velvet Underground must have seen something in his work to be admired? Without Warhol, there is no Ziggy Stardust or "Walk on the Wild Side." You do  not have to enjoy his art, but I at least ask you to consider its significance. I believe the world would be a much more boring place if Andy Warhol had never donned the white wig, and that would have been a tragedy indeed.

Below is the song Bowie wrote about Andy Warhol, which appeared on his brilliant third album Hunky Dory.

Blog #3 Sept. 10th

Art as displeasing or ugly/grotesque to your eyes.
       If you can see art as ugly and another person believes the artwork is beautiful, there shows a falisie that proves it is an individual's viewpoint that can be argued.  Does it then just depend on how we view it?  I would argue that the way we view a piece of art depends on how we view our own personal reality.  What may be real to us may not be the same for one of our neighbors who sees it as something completely different.  The same then is in pieces art.  I may see every piece by Leonardo da Vinci as a masterpiece while the person looking at the same piece could think the images are too graphic or find a piece upsetting.  How do we then appreciate something that we call art.  Is buying the piece the true definition of appreciating it?  How do we truly appreciate a piece then?...staring at it for hours doesn't really sound like a justifiable answer.
Example: I find Leonardo da Vinci's early paintings of old and tattered faces as a brilliant side of an artist that can draw beautiful and angelic faces as well as people experiencing pain, capturing it in a photograph.
Some people see this picture as unapealing and unfinished while it could be the exact opposite of is a beautiful piece showing an emotion.

Blog #2 Sept. 3rd

How can we look at art?  Is it something hanging up on a wall with a frame, an object we have to stare at for hours just to figure out a reason it was made.  Does it need a reason to be created.  In that case...why was it created?  My biggest interest is this:  What makes food art (culinary).  Do we need to design food for it to be considered an art.  Is our appreciation for the art left to our eyes, or our taste buds.  The satisfaction of our brain considering something artistic could be left up to the visual or the sensation of devouring something delicious.  Food has always confused me looking at it from an aesthetic viewpoint.

If This Is Art, Then What Isn't?

I was just on another blogging website and came across this. This is works done by an artist and designer Maciej Ratajski. I didn't do much research on the artist but I did find his "works" page and there I found two other works similar to the one I posted. I think all of these pieces (I will give you the link to the other two below) ask the general questions we encountered in the class. I like that he basically put our whole class into just a few sentences and questions, but re-worded. Seeing all of these works together actually made me think about what my answers would be. Also, some people may not think these pieces are art, but even if you dont think its art, it makes you think right? It makes a statement. 
Just thought these would be interesting to post because they really do fit perfectly with this class!

Is Bad Art Art?

There Is No Artwork

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Power of Scale

Many artists work rely upon the power of scale.  One such example is Mark Rothko, his work is simple fields of color, but the sheer size can overwhelm the viewer with emotion.  Other artists include more the contemporary such a Jeff Koons with his famous balloon animals.  While scale is powerful, scale combined with detail can be breathtaking.  One artist where this convergence occurs is the contemporary sculptor Ron Mueck.  His work plays with scale and hyper-realistic human figures.  His work can often be discomforting but it cannot be denied that it demonstrates incredible skill and scope.

Not all of Mueck's work is larger than life, some also play with the power of smaller scale!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Money is Material

Since we have been on the topic of money and its connection to the arts, I found this video and thought it was interesting.  Mark Wagner is using money to make art, rather than making art to earn money.

Money’s Triumph Over Art - Truthdig

Coomaraswamy and Robert Hughes would not be amused.

Money’s Triumph Over Art - Truthdig

"If you can believe all the hand-wringing and soul-searching these days among artists, art critics, and sundry other arts professionals, you’d imagine that nobody is really happy about the $142.4 million paid for a Francis Bacon triptych at Christie’s the other day—or the $58.4 million for a Jeff Koons at the same auction or the $104.5 million for a Warhol at Sotheby’s the following night. Those prices are as repellent as Leonardo DiCaprio’s baronial frat house shenanigans in the coming attractions for Martin Scorsese’s new tale of Gilded Age excess, The Wolf of Wall Street. Among the most revolting sports favored by the super-rich is the devaluation of any reasonable sense of value. At Christie’s and Sotheby’s some of the wealthiest members of society, the people who can’t believe in anything until it’s been monetized, are trashing one of our last hopes for transcendence. They don’t know the difference between avidity and avarice. Why drink an excellent $30 or $50 bottle of wine when you can pour a $500 or $1000 bottle down your throat? Why buy a magnificent $20,000 or $1 million painting when you can spend $50 or $100 million and really impress friends and enemies alike?"
Jed Perl

Money’s Triumph Over Art

Posted on Dec 6, 2013

Friday, December 6, 2013

Religious Art

While I often find myself opposed to Coomaraswarmy's strict approach to art, I have realized that even I have instincts that align themselves with Coomaraswarmy. I was thinking about how i often can appreciate religious art outside of its context, but what if I looked at the art of my own religious background, Catholicism.  Catholic art and themes have found their way into popular culture and are know often used with little respect or context.  One just needs to walk into the popular teen retailer, forever 21, to see catholic images and rosaries being sold as purely ornamental.  Perhaps this example hit closer to home and helped me better sympathize with Coomaraswarmy's arguments.  Also, lots of popular artist use religious imagery in their videos and styles, while not always bad videos this often makes me uncomfortable.  I still do not agree with all of Coomaraswarmy's conclusions, but religious art taken out of context can be degrading and hollow.
Rosaries being used as fashion accessories
Madonna's video for "Like a Prayer" is perhaps the most famous example of pop music's use of catholic symbolism.

David Bowie's video for "The Next Day" had many christian groups up in arms.

Lady Gaga uses catholic imagery in her "Alejandro" music video

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Pure or Manufactured Art

As I read Coomaraswamy's writing, "What is the use of art?," I began to consider the differences between pure and manufactured art.  If we were to classify each work of art by the reason for its creation, everything could be classified as either being made for profit, or for use.  The purpose of manufactured art is to earn money, which results in less valuable creations.  A work of art should only cost as much as it did to create, otherwise the nature of the artwork is overshadowed.  We lack well-made, beautiful creations in our world because the focus has been put on earning money, rather than creating meaningful works of art. When the maker of any good chooses to create based on personal desire, we are presented with valuable products, and we are therefore able to “get our money’s worth.”

The Use of Art

Does all art have to be useful in order for it to be appreciated? Personally, I fail to recognize everyday objects as beautiful, although often times they are.  When you look at your car do you consider it to be a work of art? Not many people do, but when an object, such as your car, is created properly it is considered art, according to Coomaraswamy at least.  I actually find this concept to be accurate because when something is poorly created, it is difficult to enjoy, but when something is created properly, and is useful, we are able to enjoy its existence and as a result, may view it as art.  However, I still question whether or not something should be useful in order for it to be considered art.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

My Final Thoughts.

"If I were forced to state what I take to be the most general underlying theme of the present book, it would be this ability to communicate" (Scharfstein 432).

In the last selection we read of Open Aesthetics, Scharfstein seems to contradict himself.  By making seven points as too support his idea of a universal aesthetics, Scharfstein points out several inconsistencies across cultures as to where values are placed.  For instance Scharfstein says that the literary arts are considered the most esteemed, excluding non-Islamic Africa and the Western world.  That made me consider as to whether the idea of a universal aesthetic was really possible.  However the above quote and the ideas laid out in Scharfstein's section "Final thoughts," led me to believe that those points lay out how different cultures go about communicating ideas about spirituality, individuality, and the intellectual capacity of people, as well as the general beliefs and values of a culture or nation as a whole.  In this regard, I believe Scharfstein to generally follow a central tenet of traditionalists as Coomeraswamy spends a large portion of time also talks about this central traditionalist motif of communication.

In relation to Coomeraswamy's article, and the discussion that was led today concerning the defunding of orchaestras around the United States, what is the current standing of art today?  Both in the article shared by Prof. Langguth, the writing of Coomeraswamy, and even the commentary of Robert Hughes, modern art is criticized by these men as lacking communicative properties.  Rather modern art, serves to evoke a reaction of emotion rather than a thought out response or a conversation between the viewers.  Although this is not always the case, what is the ratio of what can be considered as true art, versus the reactionary modes of what some argue to be the imitations of art.

Furthermore, the article further demonstrates the devaluing of art that isn't profitable, which is true.  Prior to college, I had only been to the Cincinnati Art Museum once and my exposure to other visual art institutions was very limited.  I was never educated as to the importance of classical music.  If I was to listen to the piece of Beethoven today, I would never be able to distinguish it as his work.  I am only now coming to a fuller appreciation of art.  Since last year, I have been to the Cincinnati Art Museum several times, and always look forward to visits there, as well as any art gallery or other artistic institution.  Yet how can we further the education of the general public of the resources of growing in aesthetic appreciation?  Whenever I have gone to the CAM, I find the majority of exhibit empty, and I am usually rushed while I am there.  I have never been able to wander through the museum aimlessly, or sit don't and enjoy the music provided by a quartet of classical players.  What do we nee to change about the current society in which we live to be more fully dedicated or involved in the arts?

Reflections of Red

Let me just say that I absolutely LOVED this performance. Tyler Thomas, good on ya mate!
The same weekend I saw Red I also went to see Cabaret over at Playhouse in the Park, and in my honest opinion, I thought Red blew it out of the water.
I found that a lot of the things that Rothko said about the current state of society and the arts I could relate to, and I often have the same thoughts and feelings. I'm not sure what Rothko was like in life nor do I know how accurately he was portrayed, but I enjoyed watching his character interact. Like Rothko in the play, I'm sickened to my core by our society of flagrant and shameless advertisement, and abhor that great art is becoming more and more a commodity, rather than a profound experience. Do you share similar feelings as Rothko did? Feel free to elaborate below.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

From  Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig.

The resignation this month of Osmo Vanska from his decade-long role as director of the Minnesota Orchestra over salary disputes with the board spurred John Halle, director of studies in music theory and practice at Bard College, to argueat Jacobin that “the virtues of classical music are inherently hostile to [the] neoliberal mindset now dominant in all sectors of society.”

Hundreds of my own conversations with middle-class youths in classrooms, bars and cafes around the country—compared with conversations with members of elder generations—suggest that Americans are increasingly uncomfortable with distinctions of high and low forms of art, particularly with classical music. Halle points to a time when this was not so, and suggests that difference has to do with support ruling elites offered the arts in the past. In the 1930s, he writes, “while there was some competition from popular music … a clear division between high and low musical forms remained accepted across the board, with what was universally regarded as the precious legacy of concert music claimed and lavishly supported by both fascist and Soviet regimes alike.”

What has emerged in recent years is the exact opposite,” he continues, and the abdication of economic control to mindless markets by states around the world, with the subsequent selfishness and inequality, is a primary cause. “On the one hand, government lavishes unprecedented economic and social privileges on its elites, taking an axe to programs benefitting those who fall behind. At the same time, the distinction between high and low artistic culture having been erased, the result has been a single standard for qualitative judgments derived from the commercial marketplace.”

It’s hard not to avoid making a connection, Halle writes. “[T]he decline of musical literacy and the large-scale forms which they make possible, the increasing demand for immediately catchy tunes, striking sonorities and flamboyant stage presentations pairs with the impatience of the elites classes” in “the demand for investments to show an immediate short-turn return. Elites have long since jettisoned the expectation for steady growth embodied in the now retired Goldman-Sachs slogan, ‘long-term greedy,’ having come to accept and even embrace … ‘the erosion of the planning function, and any rationality beyond the most crudely instrumental.’ ”

In the present era, austerity is taken as the panacea for both the economy and the arts. “The solution to a supposed ‘culture of poverty,’ ” Halle writes, “consists of work requirements and benefit reductions to break the ‘cycle of dependency’ and promote ‘self-reliance.’ The longstanding crisis in classical music is treated by the imposition of market discipline requiring institutions to devise ‘working business models.’ This means in practice supporting themselves predominantly by ticket sales, something which virtually no major orchestra or opera company in history has done successfully and which would require jettisoning most of the defining virtues of the medium.”

In the past, the high arts have helped the capitalist class legitimize its place in society. “Disparities in wealth and privilege have been justified, or at least tolerated, insofar as those benefitting from them are seen as fulfilling a necessary role in preserving artistic and cultural traditions of unquestioned sophistication, subtlety and refinement.” But today’s elites consider their acquisition of tremendous wealth as “not only justified but self-justifying. Exercises of noblesse oblige, whether investments in the arts and culture, generosity or even simple decency towards others are no longer necessary, by now viewed as sentimental archaisms, vestiges of a pre-meritocratic elite.”

Furthermore, Halle writes, “what is by now an unshakeable faith in the transcendent wisdom of the marketplace not only justifies the withdrawal of elite support but demands it, based on the rationale that they should not ‘pick winners’ or ‘put their thumbs on the scale’ in so doing corrupting market mechanisms taken as omniscient arbiters of value.”
This brings us back to the plight of the players and artistic leaders of the Minnesota Orchestra. US Bancorp CEO Richard K. Davis, also head of the orchestra’s negotiating committee, is demanding sharp wage and benefit reductions from the orchestra’s musicians. “His own yearly compensation of $14.4 million could easily make up for the orchestra’s budget shortfall, by itself, as could a small fraction of the tax breaks, subsidies and bailouts gifted to Davis’s fellow board members over the past two decades,” Halle writes. But the ideologies of neoliberalism and economic austerity, which I regard as confidence tricks used to conceal criminal acts of deliberate greed, “dictates that any such exercises in generosity would be dismissed as counterproductive.”

The orchestra’s audiences appear to think differently, however. At his farewell concert, resigning conductor Osma Vanska asked the audience to hold its applause. As is barely audible in the recording of the encore available below, Vanska said, “I have to say that the situation here is terrible and the orchestra is [in an] almost hopeless situation right now. And that situation doesn’t need any applause.” The New York Times reportedthat “listeners filed out quietly, many in tears,” when the orchestra finished playing the Jean Sibelius piece, Valse Triste, which Vanska described as a dance of death.
Of the situation, Halle writes: “What Minnesota audiences were mourning went beyond the destruction of one of the world’s great orchestras engineered by a team of bean-counting plutocrats. … For many, classical music, its refusal to engage in high-volume harangues, its reliance on aural logic rather than visual spectacle, its commitment to achieving often barely perceptible standards of formal perfection, all serves as a repudiation of late capitalism—a refuge from hideous strip malls, the 24-hour assault of advertising copy, and marketing hype. Ultimately, it is a protest against the cruder, meaner and self-destructive society we have become.”

“Achieving this recognition is not easy, nor are most things worth doing. That’s the underlying lesson learned by a child confronting a Mozart sonata. And it will need to be relearned by adults if we have much hope of surviving the century.”
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Through the Eyes of a Dead Artist

It's funny that we often think of artists as geniuses who are somehow vindicated during their own lifetimes. In striking contrast, this is not always the case. Some artists never get to realize the impact that they have on history. They die frustrated, their unsold paintings haunting them as they fade into (what they believe to be) relative obscurity. It is only years later that art collectors and historians give their work significance, sparking interest in the paintings of a dead man. Probably one of the most famous examples of this is Vincent Van Gogh, who was a virtual failure in life. In this touching clip from the British show Doctor Who, Vincent is allowed the chance to hear a docent speak about the lasting impact that "Vincent Van Gogh" has had on painting.

Here's the link to the youtube video: Doctor Who Van Gogh Scene

"They wouldn't know good art if it hit them in the face."

Earlier in the blog, I talked about Banksy's modifications to a humble thrift shop painting, and how that had an effect on its value. Needless to say, with a personality like Banksy's there were bound to be more incidents during the time he spent in New York City. This time, he set-up shop outside Central Park and tried to sell some of his paintings. In the end, the artist who normally auctions off his work for millions only managed to sell a eight pieces for about $420 (generally at
$60 per painting). Banksy explicitly stated that this was simply a one-time stunt, yet the number of Banksy counterfeits sold has gone up dramatically since then. What does this say about how we view art? Do we really only care about the brand behind the piece and not the actual work itself?

Banksy's Central Park Stand

Here's the link to the actual story:

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Shadow Figures

I thought this was really cool how they made shadow figures pretty much out of trash. So I wanted to share it with you all and see what you guys thought about it. Do you all think it is art?

What is Art?

After hearing multiple theories of what we can consider art. I still ask myself where the qualification begins and when do we exclude certain aspects. I found a video which you will find at the top of this page. This man, in an attempt to explain art, seems to take views from Coomeraswamy, Scharfstein and others and create a view of art I like to relate to. Let me know what you think.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Looking for Art in all the Wrong Places

     One thing that has continued to puzzle me about art is the question of how much does a work's history and social setting influence how we view the work.  What I mean is, will a masterpiece still be considered a masterpiece if it is taken out of the museum and shown to an audience who has no knowledge of the piece or the artistic tradition from which it comes.  This is important to me because I wonder if some artists have become famous not because of their own merits, but because a lot of under-educated art collectors have championed them.
     There is an interesting way to test the effects of showing art to an unknowing audience.  In the following video a New York contemporary artist, I am not familiar with his work but apparently he has quite the following, attempts to sell some of his art on the street.  These paintings that, in the right circles, would fetch a handsome sum, here bring in just a few hundred dollars.

     The interesting thing is that after the video was released, a "fake Banksy" sold fakes in the same spot and completely sold out.  In this case the celebrity of the stunt made fake paintings very valuable.

     I think we can clearly see that the works' fame is definitely what is driving the sale.  This sort of experiment was conducted a few years back in Washington DC where a world famous violinist went into the subway to play some of Bach's most difficult pieces on a antique violin worth several million dollars.  He did not even make the kind of money from tips that a normal busker would.  Take a look for you self and tell me what you think.  Is all fine art the construct of a pretentious "in-crowd?"  (For the record I love the arts, and Bach.)


Art is just a way of expression, right? Anyone who is creatively insightful is considered an artist. I think that poets and writers are all artists in their own way. Because they express their feelings in a creative fashion, while viewing world in different lights. Poets have made the way we feel universal, becasue seeing the written word is sometimes easier than attempting to interpret a painting. Sometimes "letting the art speak for itself" is impossible, and poetry makes it easier. It stands out on its own, and tells the aidience what it is meant to say. The only interpreting that needs to be done is understanding what the writing means to the audince.

In a lot of countries writing is a sacred art. If you can write beautifully and with expression then you are considered a genius. Yet, here in the U.S. writers are unsupported quite often. They are not given the proper attention becasue writing is not condidered a fine art.

Thoughts... opinions?

Destructive Art

I think that art that happens by accident is some of the best kind. It comes off as a suprise when you arn't sure what the end result will be. Take paint darts for example. The best part of the project is the excitement you get when the dart hits the balloon and paint explodes everywhere.

Another example could be when artists smash things into tiny pieces, or throw things and make them shatter. Destructive art could be used in many ways, but is it purposeful? What would critics say about art like this?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Art and Religion

Some cultures across the world do not involve humans or other living things in their religious paintings. One culture in particular is Islam. The purpose of this is to portray the meaning of the painting, and what it speaks about, rather than the physical form of it. The religious Islamic art portray geometrical designs as visions of certain things, instead.

I found this interesting because when it is compared to Catholic art, the human form is extremely prominent, because beauty is seen in humans. A lot of Catholic art portrays women surrounded by angels, or men on high pedestals, as a symbol of the standpoint of human nature.

This also says a lot about the parts of the society in general. American culture objectifies humans as greater parts of the world because of the "closeness to God," while Indian cultures sees themselves as lesser humans compared to animals and Holy objects (maybe statues for example.)

Natural vs. Artificial Beauty

  Cultures have changed drastically over thousands of years, and so has the expectations of beauty. Let's take the example of the picture below. In the 1800's women who were curvier, and wore more conservative clothing were admired and treasured. They wore very little makeup, considering it was a rarity and available exclusively to people who could afford it.

Now that society has evolved, so has our vision of what women should look like. The wealthier parts of America have become superficial, and have gained the expectation that women should be flawless. Women who are skinny, and small are ideal in some areas of the world. Nowadays, magazines for high end fashion objectify women to sell clothes to certain people. The idea is if the women associated with the product is beautiful, then whoever buys the product will be beautiful too.
The debate is the line that is being drawn between natural and artificial beauty. Are photo shopped women better because of the commercial purpose, or not? The problem is the standard this sets for young women seeking self esteem. When the ideal is what is on the cover of a magazine, then what impact does that halve on young girls? Then when society demands that natural beauty is better, it hurts the advertising market. Where can the line be drawn?  

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Michael Phelps vs. Michelangelo

“World records for runners and painters are set in equally unequivocal media, for the runners in clock times, and for the artists in denomination if U.S. dollars and other currencies.” 377

As a runner and an artist I found this quote very interesting. The fame of a runner or athlete is not much different to the fame of an artist. Scharfstein talks about how the prices of particular pieces fluctuate as well as the times on the clock for the runners. However, in that particular time of an auction, the price is set. As well as if a runner runs a particular race, the time on that clock is final and cannot be changed.

I would have never thought about comparing a famous athlete with a famous artist. When we look at Michael Phelps versus Michelangelo we may see more things in common than we think. Both had to establish their work ethics and practice and perfect what goals they intended to accomplish. They had to establish themselves as well, they had to make a name for themselves and prove to others that they are worthy of the fame. For example, Michael Phelps and Michelangelo didn’t come out of nowhere and become famous painters or world record-breaking swimmers. Michael Phelps had to work hard and prove himself to his coaches and countless Olympic trials to get all those medals. Michelangelo had to work with other artists and learn how to become someone who could be a working artist. He had to do many apprenticeships and many projects before accomplishing his most famous commissioned works. Both of these extraordinary people had to work for their fame.