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More on Teaching Art

January 30th, 2010

Or, better put in an earlier title: “Can Art be taught? “. For me writing for this blog has contradicted my way of doing things. I’ve never had any use whatsoever for keeping a journal or a diary. I any case, I remember having written an article titled “Can Art be taught?” What did I write? I do not remember and do not have the inclination to reread it. Perhaps a better question and title would have been “Can Art be understood today?” All joking aside, it will, I fear, be a most serious question for some time. And the fear of the matter is that although having spent a lifetime attempting to think clearly about difficult matters the issue becomes more and more obscure. Kant as well as Descartes clearly located the universal with the individual: not with the social/cultural setting the individual lived in! And yet, in these interesting days in which we find ourselves, is it not politically incorrect to discuss philosophical issues? Where does this leave Art?

Published in french as Plus sur l’enseignement de l’Art

The Artist as Degenerate Outcast

December 16th, 2009

These days, in fact for a long time now you need a thick skin if you are to follow an artistic painter path. Since being relegated to the status of worker only as a producer he or she been valued. That is, up until just recently. Of course, there are still the selected few always hungry to enjoy these fruits.

Okay, I begin to rant. I know that things in general are much as they have always been. Since Plato the artist/painter has played a marginal role. But, at least he had a role of sorts. Even as a worker he had a role of sorts, may be in many respects a healthier one.

A few days ago I found an English translation of the important speech of Aude de Kerros, pronounced (march 09) at the French “Académie des Beaux-Arts”. It looks at word games played with Art since the Second World War. I highly recommend that you read this. Then I would hope that you can understand that this sort of chicanery has been going on at least since the time of Plato. Recently, Courbet was imprisoned and then run out of France. Cezanne was stoned by village children and so on. Not to speak of unknown artists who starved to death in their garrets.

The thing interesting about this article is the suggestion that a big change in the business of art is taking place. It seems that the financial bubble burst has disturbed the connections between the good old boys who manipulated artistic matters on a global scale. There is the suggestion that art and the world of art is about to become more democratic. Imagine, then if you are an artist you will no longer be a degenerate outcast.

Published in french as L’artiste est un exclu

Social and Oil Painting Connection

November 30th, 2009

In these writings I have focused on the connections and relationships primarily between the artist and the visual experience, and as well on the cultural/social connection with painting given its place today in the arts. Historical and political influences have to a lesser degree been touched upon. Given today’s social/political climate these considerations become difficult to approach, added with the fact that later nineteenth century intellectuals bypassed an analysis of social history and its relevancy to art. With few exceptions they were content with offering an analysis of the “masterpiece” as social history. The context of social history itself was dismissed.

The slave to beauty artistic attitude developed in the void of this rather sterile social/political situation. Oops, I wrote a rather judgmental word here. My wish is to write clearly without any reactionary digressions. When we begin looking at stuff like this clarity must be maintained. Understanding can only come when we suspend judgements and wipe the words from our eyes so to speak. That said, we have to ask why it is that mankind has found it so difficult to peacefully co-exist with each other. Social history in this area is not a pretty picture.

The relationships we can observe in recorded history between ideologies, social groups, religions, prominent philosophical thought, and the creative individual becomes pertinent when clearly considered. In saying “creative individual”, let us remember that we did not have anything approaching what we know to day as art until a mere couple of hundred years ago. We need some understanding of what we have on record (the text) and what had preceded it (social history, i.e., the context) which will be pursued in subsequent articles. Hopefully this can be done in a straightforward fashion. Simple but not easy!

Published in french as Rapport entre le social et la peinture à l’huile

Slave to Paint Part II

October 31st, 2009

"Modern Houses", oil on linen, 46cm x 36cm, 2009
"Modern Houses", oil on linen, 46cm x 36cm, 2009

The other day my wife read on FriendFeed that “a society without a stable arts base is a parking lot”. I do not know who it was that said that but they nailed it. I began writing this blog (first article posted originally in April 2007) with this essential core thought. I mean what in the hell are we thinking of. Art is today exactly whatever you want it to be from a pile of rocks, a dead cat, to you name it, n’importe quoi.

Many art pundits tell us that Marcel Duchamp is responsible for this state of affairs. They imply that exhibiting a urinal and signing it “R. Mutt” started this slide to nothingness. What utterly simplistic bullshit. Having said that, understanding what has gone on over the last couple of hundred years with European Culture is not easy. I do not by any means consider myself an intellectual but I am a thinker with good intuitive instincts. It has literally taken me at least 50 years of continual reading and pondering to just begin getting my mental teeth on the problem. This blog is an attempt at clarification. For these fifty years I have been a slave to this pursuit: paint is the symbolic medium and writing an exercise in understanding.

Interestingly, the interest as measured by traffic to this site is significantly weighted to French readership. The English visits are very low. Reading anything from this is difficult at best. (For one thing I live in France). However, I am very thankful to have a strong French following. Having said that, my purpose in writing is not strong reader following. I am attempting to learn how to talk about things I am beginning to recognize as important. Understanding seems to be the name of the game. Making money and fame have never been the goal of honest painters.

Published in french as Esclave de la peinture Partie II

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