Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Johnathon Jones in the Gaurdian

I couldn't agree more. And this is NOT a bad thing.

"Critics and museums lie when they claim serious art is accessible. It is obscure and demanding."
Johnathon Jones


Rahul said...

Actually, I disagree (you probably saw that coming). Serious art was extremely popular until the modern era. Paganini, Chopin, Liszt had rock-star followings. A print of a Rembrandt may look ordinary, but seeing the original is quite another experience, even (especially?) for the uninitiated. Understanding and appreciating the nuances is demanding, but seeing and appreciating the big picture isn't.

Meanwhile, art like this may be obscure but is neither serious nor demanding: it is an obscure practical joke.

Natasha said...

Hey there, its been a while though hasn't it?

Was art that commonly appreciated? Had most people read/heard/seen everything that came before a particular painting or music or book, that it referred to? Often why something is good, read new and exciting, is because of where it lies within the tradition. It references much of what came before.

I can't imagine that many people were this familiar with art, perhaps among the upper classes, but the rank and file? There was less travel, less communication. Maybe that made the artists themselves more disconnected and less referential. I don't know.

But as it stands today to grasp nuance and meaning, you really do need to know a lot. How much of western literature that we read presumes an ease with the Bible for instance? Then I think of Wasteland....

The problem with the big picture notion is this, it privileges and encourages the lazy 'aesthetics' mode of judging something. It looks pretty so it's good. It discards much that is intelligent, provocative, dissonant and ugly to a purpose.

You might say this is alright, but as the devil asked, is it art?

Rahul said...

Well, I was trying to say you don't need to know a lot to admire art, though you do need to know a lot to fully appreciate it. Of course, I didn't live in the 19th century either so what I know comes from reading. The so-called "classics" of today -- Dickens, Austen, etc -- were hugely popular at the time too. With music, people had fewer opportunities to hear the greatest musicians, but for that reason more people learned music and practically every home had a piano (I don't know whether this applies to the lower classes...) Very few could see an original Rembrandt or Monet and prints didn't exist, but there were many high-quality lesser artists and an entire industry of reproductions that were quite impressive in themselves.

I don't think mere prettiness attracted people either... Beethoven achieved his greatness (and popularity) because he went beyond the "prettiness" of "classical" composers, Mozart, Haydn et al.

What seems to have happened in recent times is that people decided that all the great work has been done already and you have to do something new, that breaks with old ideas. Unfortunately that leads to weirdness for the sake of weirdness. People can appreciate Dali or Escher, but they can't really appreciate things like the "shit art" I linked to above. I went to the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco and three-fourths of the place fell in that category, with the guides desperately trying to tell us why it was meaningful... Despite nearly a century passing, I don't think there's any meaning in Duchamp's urinal.

abigailm said...

Those are very beautiful pictures!

Abby from Mr.Lewis' reading group

Natasha said...

Thanks Abby, glad you liked them!