Monday, June 28, 2010

conceptual art vs. beauty 3

it is easier to criticize than to create, i believe. but since i am an artist myself, creating is not my problem, although it can be arduous and painstaking at times.

still, criticizing other artists is not my favourite pastime. i prefer to criticize museums, galleries, popular media, society, god, the world, the moon, the climate, my family (in private), etc...

even when i do not really appreciate a work of art, usually i try to find some merit in whatever effort has been made by the artist. but also i have these recurrent episodes where i berate myself for being altogether too soft and clement, and i find this to especially occur when i have seen yet another `great' work of conceptual art in which the contemporary art scene is being ridiculed or in which some other shallow message is being heralded as the ultimate in the artistic development of man...

and my god, these conceptual people are everywhere! perhaps not so amazing, since any halfwitted primate can come up with some superficial `shocking!' `mocking!' `rocking!' concept the depth of which leaves us all agape! like having a gallerist walk around for a month in a costume resembling a penis...well, NOW we're talking art!

oh no, frank, you misunderstand. it's not a teenage prank, it is a criticism of the fact that the modern art world is ruled by teenage you see it's much deeper than it might seem, and you have to see his whole oeuvre, which is all absurdistic and criticizing and well, so FUNNY!

actually i don't mind humor one bit...but does one classify the superficial jokes of a stand-up comedian as great literature? i KNOW that stand-up comedians are more appreciated than great literature, and i even do not criticize this, but i do mind if the library starts to get filled with the collected jokes of john howards and howard johns the extent where i cannot get a real modern writer any longer.

and this is what is happening in my perception in the art world. conceptual art is an easy way to facilitate the take-over of art by entertainment. i like entertainment to a liberal extent, but i dislike entertainment being more important than real issues.

now i remember that i made two conceptual sculptures which probably would illustrate some of my point (i'm working on numbers 3 and 4, but i've been at them for 3 years now and they still aren't anywhere near completion). perhaps i'll put them up in the next post.


Helen, Artist. said...

Hi Frank! Stumbled upon your piece of writing here whilst researchinf ro and essay I am writing about the conflist between Concept and Aesthetics.
I would just like to know where the beauty comes into play from the title- you talk about conceptual art but with no reference to the relationship it plays with beauty?

frank waaldijk said...

hi helen, how nice of you to take an interest in these musings!

i think the posts immediately following on this one provide some answer to your question. but i admit it is relatively short.

in the next post, i try to explain what i mean by `hard-won beauty'. it is a kind of deep esthetic quality which is also directly visible for anyone who looks at it sincerely. it does not depend mostly on a conceptual reference, but is there on a primordial visual level.

conceptual art in its most extreme form however doesn't need this hard-won beauty, and is almost always therefore lacking in this respect. for `truly conceptual' art, the visually-artistic quality is less important than the conceptual reference being made.

to me it is sad that conceptual art seems to dominate the modern art world's attention. because in the end, the hard-won visual beauty is what makes art truly unique - even if we add conceptual layers to this beauty.

i couldn't care less if koons' works were demolished in an earthquake...i get the (to me superficial) conceptual references just as easily from pictures of his works. but i think i would really be very sad if one of my (many) favourite van goghs was damaged.

frank waaldijk said...

however, if to the hard-won beauty an artist manages to add (layers of) conceptual references, then i believe that there is no conflict between aesthetics and concept.

in fact, then the conceptual layers serve to attract ones attention and to look and look again, from different positions and levels of cognition.

something like that. i'm not sure that more words will make things clearer!

anyway, i also looked at your blog and i'm really quite favourably impressed so i will add a link to your blog on this one (if you mind, tell me and it will be removed).

i'm always open for more dialogue, kind regards, frank

Helen, Artist. said...

Hey! No that's great thanks!
Yeah I really struggle with the idea of concept Vs. beauty. For me it's kind of like- how important is the concept if the art is just phenomenal? Sometimes it can ruin it....?
One of my favourite artists latey, YaYoi Kusama, does these amazingly hallucinatory installations and sculptures covered in these multicoloured larger than life polka dots, I love them. And I looked into it and turns out she was severely abused when young and these are the hallucinations she see's- so what was to me and amazing celebration of colour is transformed into something dark and twisted, and the outcry of a deeply dsturbed woman.
It's something that it's very hard to find an answer for, there seems to be a strand in the art world coming through of an anti-pretencious I just wanna look at it kind of thought process, but then there are the people that love the idea, and it can actually be a pile of crap for all they care if it's got an awesome back story.
I find it really difficult but none the less- very interesting! :)