Posted: January 13, 2016
Where We Stand.
Writing in The Italian Renaissance: Culture and Society in Italy, Peter Burk observes, every society erects obstacles to the expression of the creativity of some groups . . .
Within the fields of contemporary art, art criticism, art education and aesthetics, an obstacle has arisen over the past half century, supported by those who once struggled against the norm and now fight to maintain an anti-intellectual status quo. This contemporary criterion is derived from a synthesis of Nineteenth century Romanticism, the anti-art movements flourishing at the beginning of the Twentieth century and a convergence of the Open Concept with Institutional Postmodern Deconstruction.
Following World War II, the predominate polemic in and about the arts has shifted back and forth between a philosophy based on the construction of works of art and a theory that has had little to do with works of art or the nature, and essence of art, and more to do with self-reflective language. An overly emphasized self-consciousness about the language used, rather than with a concern for the subject of the topic being discussed, talking about talk.
The current warranty is one in which artist are isolated from the mainstream of social, intellectual and academic life because more importance is placed on talking about talk rather than on the configuration of works of art. This idea is based on a belief system that asserts a denial of the classical western cultural concepts and canons which have established individual characteristics and essential qualities of art, capable of discoverability and independent understanding. Analysis that makes reference to actual works of art themselves is viewed as reactionary.
In the vernacular of this idiom, theories applicable to the visual arts, literature, cinematography and performing arts which incorporate a demand for a criterion of excellence are considered passé. Lacking a particularized nature or essence, according to this argument, art exists as subjective interpretation of ephemeral experiences, essentially uninvolved with any sort of discipline.
If we were to accept this declaration, that attempts to define the essence and nature of works of art are doomed to failure, that the arts are unknowable other than by dubious comparisons, then a number of hare areas exist.
We stand the very real chance that the idea of art itself, as something unique and valuable to society could vanish from the general lexicon of the language as a result of extreme ambiguity. I am convinced that no concept suffused with doubtfulness and uncertainty of meaning can long endure without agreed upon definitions. Lacking the knowledge of the discoverability and understanding of art, ambivalence would exist. Painters, writers, poets, performers and artist as well as patrons of all kinds would be cut off from their own traditions, traditions which extend in an unbroken line form the present day back to the Late-Classical Greeks. A form of unprecedented cultural suicide would be taking place.
The question that exists is, will those of us who believe that art can be understood within parameters precise enough to avoid ambiguity abdicate our responsibilities to the pressures of the status quo? Or, will we steadfastly offer our own protective paradigm(s) which identify those qualities and features unique to art and thereby preserve freedom of expression as well as progressive and evolutionary development in the future. From where we stand now, the choice is clear: will we struggle for freedom of expression or will we support the erection of obstacles to the express of the creativity of some groups?
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