Showing posts with label art and money. Show all posts
Showing posts with label art and money. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

outsiderness & photoshop experiments

my drawing "outsider" is being used in various places on the internet, by people wishing to illustrate the feeling of outsiderness. all without asking permission [copyrights apply], but mostly with appropriate reference to this blog, which i insist on since it is hard enough to garner some recognition as an artist. however, to see people using my drawings to bring across some emotion is a special form of recognition, which i greatly appreciate. i have been considering for some time now to release a body of work to wikimedia commons, so that people can use my drawings more freely. but i have not yet studied the consequences in enough detail.

the theme of outsiderness keeps intriguing me [you can click on the label "outsiderness" below this post to see other posts on this theme].

self-portrait in outsider forest~ frank waaldijk
self-portrait in outsider forest (own work, 2012-2013, 21 x 21 cm, digital, click on the image for an enlargement)

i'm experimenting, in many ways. the combination of photoshop with `ordinary' drawing fascinates me, but seldom leaves me satisfied. but things are progressing, slowly. i'm extremely hampered by rsi (repetitive strain injury), which has been plaguing me for the past 12 years. the reason also why my blogging activity is limited.

night encounter ~ frank waaldijk
night encounter (ongoing own work, 2007-2012, 21 x 22 cm, digital, click on the image for an enlargement)

finally then, i designed another record sleeve for my friend and fellow artist ralf kwaaknijd, who is also an active musician.

ralfk goes astral ~ frank waaldijk
ralfk goes astral (2012, 35 x 35cm, digital, click on the image for an enlargement)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

again drawings (2): notre dame des anges and hans holbein

notre dame des anges, hand on heart ~ frank waaldijk
notre dame des anges, hand on heart (own work, 2012, 30 x 21 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

notre dame des anges in blue dress ~ frank waaldijk
notre dame des anges in blue dress (own work, 2012, 30 x 21 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

woman texting on the bed at night ~ frank waaldijk
woman texting on the bed at night (own work, 2011, 30 x 21 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

what could be an artist's motivation to draw, in such quantities too? being an artist used to be a living :-), which raises the possibility that drawing is a money scheme :-). there are those who like to demystify the great artists of the past in this way. one of those great artists in my eyes is hans holbein the younger. i have never seen any work of his which did not cause me to pause in my tracks. the drawing below was made in 1526, but looks as fresh and poignant as if made today.

the strikingly demure pose, the colouring, well everything really...goes to show that drawing is not a money scheme but a deep inner compulsion to express, to portray, to touch upon the world especially also in the non-visible layers, through visual means.

hans holbein the younger, portrait of anna meyer
hans holbein the younger, portrait of anna meyer (1526)

and what about letting yourself be portrayed in this fashion? does that not show deep respect for the artist?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

art and life: societal criticism in art

i had a discussion with a dear friend, the other day. not known for my lack of radical views, i stated that i had trouble accepting that so many people in our western society seem to prefer 'positive' untruths to ... well, to the bleak truth that e.g. in a country like ethiopia people have to pick coffee beans at a wage of 40 eurocent a day...7 days a week, for 10 grueling hours a day...just so we can drink cheap coffee. please don't dismiss this statement too easily. think about it for some time.

she said: well, if you are so unhappy about exploitation of poor workers, why don't you do something about it? so i tried to explain to her that this is what i try to do -in my way, which is the only way that i see myself capable of keeping up over the years. which means talking about it, writing about it, painting and drawing about it...although most of my drawings and paintings approach the subject from the other way round: i try to portray how the world would look if we concentrate on a 'spiritual' interaction (compassionate, mild, respectful, you get my drift). and of course i have been buying fair trade as much as i can, for a very long time.

which brings me to another aspect of this thread which has been going on for quite some posts now: societal criticism in art. the theme of societal criticism has been around for centuries in art. a 19th century example:

jean-françois millet, gleaners
jean-françois millet the gleaners (les glaneuses, 1857, musée d'orsay, paris, click for enlargement)

we see three gleaners: poor women, who when the wheat had been harvested scoured the land for the remaining stalks and ears. The so prominent display of the poorest of the population was seen by many as an indictment of poverty and exploitation of the workers. from wikipedia:
Millet first unveiled The Gleaners at the Salon in 1857. It immediately drew negative criticism from the middle and upper classes, who viewed the topic with suspicion: one art critic, speaking for other Parisians, perceived in it an alarming intimation of "the scaffolds of 1793."[1] Having recently come out of the French Revolution of 1848, these prosperous classes saw the painting as glorifying the lower-class worker.[1] To them, it was a reminder that French society was built upon the labor of the working masses, and landowners linked this working class with the growing movement of Socialism and the dangerous voices of Karl Marx and Émile Zola.[2]

One critic commented that "his three gleaners have gigantic pretensions, they pose as the Three Fates of Poverty…their ugliness and their grossness unrelieved."[3] While the act of gleaning was not a new topic—representations of Ruth had already been composed—this new work was a statement on rural poverty and not Biblical piety:[3] there is no touch of the Biblical sense of community and compassion in contrast of the embodiments of grinding poverty in the foreground and the rich harvest in the sunlit distance beyond. The implicit irony was unsettling.
millet was a big source of inspiration for vincent van gogh:

vincent van gogh, the potato eaters
vincent van gogh, the potato eaters (1885, Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam, click for enlargement)


let me add a drawing which i made yesterday, after having had this discussion. i don't think it's my best work...since my subconscious seems to work better on its own, without a directive from my mind. but i do have enough image-creating experience to get things done, visually speaking. however, i'm left with a low expectation that any of my art works will really have an impact on this persistent problem of greed, wealth, uneven distribution of resources,...human nature you could say. you may call me negative for stating this. but i think we need this negativism in order for anything to change. much of the so-valued 'positivism' in my eyes serves to maintain a status quo which is decidedly injust on a global scale.

we trample on them, to maintain our luxury
we trample on them, to maintain our luxury (own work, 2012, 21 x 30 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

Monday, January 17, 2011

what is art for? 4 (art in our merchant society)

but let's forget about the economic importance of art and art education. this importance should be evident to anyone who ... has had enough education to understand the importance of education...although this maybe isn't dependent on how much education one gets. many of our current political `leaders' have had quite a lot of education...but of what type, one cannot fail to wonder.

that is where art comes in, and art education as well.

ultimately, in my not so humble opinion (imnsho), the question `what is art for?' revolves around the same sun as the question: `what gives our existence meaning?'. personally i do not believe that money, power, sex, drugs [let's say the four modern horsemen of the apocalypse...] come close to this sun, although our current merchant society would really have us believe that these four horsemen are the beginning and the end of all our longings, and that the sun shines out of their arse...

albrecht dürer, the four horsemen of the apocalypse
albrecht dürer, the four horsemen of the apocalypse (click on the image for an enlargement)

i mean, look at italy, where a complete `civilized' country is being dominated by the arch-caricature of money power sex drugs: berlusconi. after all the scandals and corruptions, has italy managed to regain the upper hand? no. do the other countries of the european union even try to stop the incredible corruption in italy from spreading throughout the union? i for one fail to notice any real progress in this matter.

and all of this is because we as a society -at EVERY junction- stress the importance of money. the importance of power. the importance of sex, and drugs as well. because the main societal credo seems to be: "as long as I feel happy, as long as I am in control of things around me, as long as I am rich and powerful, who cares about the rest?".

since money is the generic means to obtain all of the above four horsemen, our merchant society drools over money like one wouldn't believe.

what then is one of the main ways to illustrate that money isn't everything? if we need to get across the message that there are other values in this world which need protection from the money-scheming white-collar criminals? i would say that art is in a unique position for this. (this includes all forms of art, not just the visual arts).

what is art for? 3 (art in our merchant society)

[to continue our discussion: art and art education is important for economic development]

the first reason why art and art education are economically important was given already by looking at the world of design, and the importance of colour, form, perception for this discipline.

a second reason can be found on a more profound level. it turns out that much of our thinking is `visual'. we `see' things, see? so when we say we understand something, it often means we have a visual representation of this something which makes sense to us. also, new ideas, creative ideas, often come in visual form. but that means that we can hardly train enough our capacity for visualization and for visual communication.

for example, read this interesting article on colour by ibm researchers rogowitz and treinish: Why Should Engineers and Scientists Be Worried About Color?. they argue that specific colour representation of research data is critical for its understanding, and that colour theory should be applied when presenting data.

this is just a small portion of the ways in which we think and communicate visually. clearly, for industrial and technological innovation, visualization is of the essence. good education in visualization therefore is a vital pillar to economic development, imnsho. this also covers training in simply `seeing', `looking'.

from neurophysiological brain studies, it becomes clear that our brain has several large visual `modules', large parts of which are activated when we try to understand things.

so we come back to wittgenstein: wir machen uns bilder der welt
(we make ourselves images of the world), by which wittgenstein means that this is our way of thinking about the world and being able to grasp parts of this world.

then thirdly, there is the direct economic aspect of art: art appreciation in all its forms has a direct economic component. of course this is what most of the criticism and `looking down' on artists is about, in our merchant society, because many artists cannot really make a living out of their art.

but on who does that reflect poorly, really?

given the utmost importance of visualization, colour, creativity for human development, and given the often back-breaking effort put in by visual artists to achieve profound levels in their artistry, on who does it reflect poorly that these artists often struggle to get by?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

what is art for? 2 (art in our merchant society)

[continued from previous post]

so if we adopt the utilitarian viewpoint, then clearly art is for the benefit of mankind.

in my not so humble opinion (imnsho): if the dutch political party pvv wants to state that `art is a leftist hobby', they really show to understand so little of what the world needs that they should be disqualified by voters as quickly as possible.

but -and now i'm coming back to education and johannes itten- in the netherlands we have a long tradition of considering education in the arts to be unimportant. this results in a merchant mentality in large parts of society, a mentality which is actually hampering the netherlands in its economic development - try explaining that to someone who cannot think beyond quick profit.

first of all: design is a key element of industrial commerce, so that design in all its aspects is of major importance in developing one's economy. however, the key aspects of design are largely concomitant with the key elements of the visual arts...and nobody, nobody comes close to what visual artists have developed in this respect over the centuries. so take another look at `kunst und farbe' by johannes itten:

kunst der farbe, johannes itten
johannes itten, kunst der farbe (art of colour)

in this book many insights about colour are developed and explained in a very inspiring manner. one could easily call this book a scientific text on the `feel and use' of colour. this also illustrates that the words `art' and `science' are in a way on the same level...since art is also the science of esthetics - as contrasted to esthetics as a branch of philosophy (you should really read this link, if this topic `what is art for?' interests you).

so instead of teaching `dry' economy for three hours a week, four years of secondary school, why not add a module `economic impact of colour'...? that would certainly straighten some not-so-leftist strange ideas about the importance of art...and hopefully also about the importance of art education.

(i simply repeat johannes itten's work from the previous post, since it is about education:)

johannes itten
johannes itten "Education is revelation that affects the individual."--Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, The Education of the Human Race, 1780. From the series Great Ideas of Western Man. (1966, click on the image for an enlargement)

[to be continued]

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

art in our merchant society 2 (more digital design)

[see also previous post! oh well, i'm careening a bit between two subjects (see the ambiguous title), sorry]


marcel klein's design for the vpro cover competition (see previous post, not nominated by the jury - i take it for granted neither marcel nor vpro will mind my putting up this design on my blog, if so just let me know and i will remove it and replace it with just the link).

i like it for a couple of reasons. the somewhat strange composition, which works out lively and elegant. but also the sharp juxtaposition of `old' and `new' technology - paper cut-outs and computer-related cables - in the form of a tree...which is what paper is made of, usually...and what also constitutes a big argument against paper, namely wouldn't we want those trees to serve a better purpose?

moreover, notwithstanding the briefing from the vpro which contained some nostalgia about paper being on its return, as far as i know our paper consumption has not decreased since the ICT revolution, but on the contrary has increased...perhaps because we print out all those emails and memos and reports and all the try-out versions of these products too, i don't know.

so the image also describes this process: a lot of electronic communication ends in physical paper...

therefore: nice! - but not immediately classifiable as an ode to paper, you could say. does that really disqualify this design? i would say on the contrary, it lifts the original commission to a higher level.

(grumpy me: i'm not completely enthusiastic about the colours, and one could also point out that the branching out of one of the electronic-cable-branches is a bit obviously photoshopped, so be it)

anyway, i'm not saying this design should have won or should have been nominated, but in comparison to some of the nominated designs it is clear that the jury looks more to direct visual effect than to possible deeper layers.

it would in my not so humble opinion be a step forward if also designs that consider a more complex message would get serious reconsideration. not only in this competition, but in cover designs overall.


however, in a merchant society, i believe that subtle and/or complex art is bound to suffer. time is money, after all! if i cannot grasp the meaning of something in a few seconds, then i might lose valuable opportunities of course that only the most blatant art will impress my newfound family of rich entrepreneurs who also seek to impress me with their blatant modern art collection...

obviously i speak not in absolutes, but i believe this to be the general prevailing mechanism in modern (or contemporary if you prefer) art. and this is judging by what i see in museums and galleries specializing in the `top' of contemporary art. (but you know my views on quality mechanisms, else search this blog for `quality' (without the single quotes this becomes a funny statement, but perhaps true too...)).

it all boils down to the question:

what is art for?

in a merchant society, you can imagine the most common reply. and this is then subsequently what drives our art market, our art institutions, and if we are very very unlucky our artists as well.

Monday, January 3, 2011

art in our merchant society (more digital design)

every year, the dutch broadcasting corporation vpro holds an open design competition for the cover of its first magazine of the new year.

a very inspiring idea!!

and one should really look at all the designs that people make, they are put on the vpro's website for cover 1. it is very inspiring to see what is being made by young and old, professional and non-professional.

of course, i would'nt be grumpy old me if i wasn't grumpy old me, so i also see quite a number of drawbacks to the way this competition is organized, remains a nice and original idea! for many amateur/semi-amateur designers, where can one find a similar opportunity to create a design with (if you win of course...) national exposure?

which is partly why i like to participate, from time to time. not every year, because i often don't feel much affinity with the selected theme (like this year's theme: `ode to paper' - it just doesn't do much for me, because for me the direction has been predetermined too much. it would have worked better for me if it had been simply: `paper', but even that probably would not really have set me on fire, i suppose, much as i like paper as a medium and also as a material).

so far i have participated twice, with designs that i really like and which naturally failed to draw any attention from the jury...;-) but thankfully i have reached a stage where i understand that drawing attention from a jury is a very subjective affair, and also isn't the only thing that makes a design worthwhile.

but even if i don't participate, i usually take quite some time to look at the designs made by others, because it is really inspiring, like i said. from this i have noticed that my way of looking is rather different than the jury's...if i were to nominate 10 designs, in most years there would be not more than one or two overlaps with the nomination of the jury, and frequently none.


the next will sound arrogant, i know. but to me it sometimes seems as if really intelligent design is at a disadvantage. i have seen some excellent designs going unnoticed [yeah i know you could now laugh at me, but i'm not talking about my own designs ;-)], where the only reason for this that i could think of was that the idea behind the design was subtle, and took more than a short moment's reflection to grasp.

this brings us back (i think i discussed this earlier on this blog, but i'm not sure!) to the discussion on how `popular' art should be. the vpro prides itself on bringing programs that bring real content and culture, a deepening of background shall we say. therefore i think that it is a real sign of the times that even in the vpro-setting `intelligent' design is at a disadvantage.

to me it seems that we dutch are simply not motivated to invest time and effort in building our culture to the point where art, music, literature, poetry, film, etc. are appreciated as a valuable way to determine what values we treasure, what ways we should go and what ways we should not go with our society.

our new government is a very appalling example of the merchant mind which seems to dominate the netherlands. what a poor culture my country really has, is sometimes obscured by the many great painters which were born in the netherlands. but they are really just a strange exception to the dutch rule.

and it is also surprising that with such a merchant mentality, many eminent scientists also came from the netherlands. however, this latter phenomenon cannot persist i believe. whereas the natural talent for painting seems to be indigenous, to maintain a high level of science requires a definite non-merchant mentality. i'm sure we will see the downslide of dutch science in the decades to come. and we deserve it, for being so short-sighted and narrow-minded.

now who will be able to illuminate the blind? traditionally, i would say, it should be the artists (all liberal arts included). but in our merchant society, they are currently being put down as irrelevant (unless commercially successful) and as being basically parasitic on society - i'm NOT joking.

this is what happens when we vote for people who have no real cultural upbringing, no real cultural reflection, no basis for the insight that the arts are about everything that we hold dear. who can only think in terms of success, failure, money, power, fear, control, get the idea.

what does beauty mean to these people? what does colour mean? a song or a poem that brings the tears to one's eyes?

[to be continued]

Monday, September 28, 2009

inside the commercial zone: contemporary art bubble?

last night i saw the documentary the great contemporary art bubble (for a trailer see here on youtube by ben lewis.

lewis tells an interesting story, which clearly touches on many the same issues regarding money & art as this blog.

i'm not in a position to verify, understand or even judge all the financial mechanisms behind contemporary art. what nonetheless becomes clear is that the contemporary art world is obsessed with and dominated by money considerations.

moreover, the picture emerging from the documentary is clear enough:

* we are letting a very small number of people determine what supposedly is `the best' in contemporary art.
* these people include influential gallery holders and museum curators/directors
* another important subgroup are the rich investors and collectors, and the influential auction houses
* the contemporary art market runs in the billions of euros (109=billion)
* society pays along in various ways: by buying art for museums with public money, and through various tax deduction schemes
* there is little objective outside control over the art market
* there are few objective outside quality/reality checks as to whether `the best' in contemporary art is more than just a small group of people's temporary fancy combined with a small group of people's multimillions' worth of financial stakes.


but now the real question: so what? the contemporary art market can hardly be as corrupt as the financial markets, and we couldn't even be bothered about them before the whole thing came crashing down. for any artist out there trying to create her/his own work (as contrasted to the damien hirsts who have studios filled with employees to produce `their' art) my advice would be:

just create, to the best of your ability. let the rich play, and be glad your work is not being treated like a stock commodity, but hangs instead in a normal living room, where it is loved by the people who bought it.


some interesting comments on the documentary can be found here, here (scroll down to `the mugrabis respond to my film') and here.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

street art 3: outside the commercial zone

on a more positive note (as compared to my usual rants against commercialism): i came across this wonderful sculpture in nijmegen:

street art in nijmegen, picture by blog author
unknown-to-me street artist, unknown-to-me title

constructed strangely against the remaining wall of a torn down house, the sculpture just is. i couldn't find any reference to indicate either maker or title. though it struck me as simple fun from a sculptural point of view, i found it to represent a very refreshing and vitalizing remembrance of art for the sake of art.

ohhh auldfashioned...but i mean art not for the sake of ART (in capitals, destined for museums, money, jetset, prestige, grandeur, really deep you know especially if you don't get it) but for the sake of art. where art stands for the expression of the human soul in visual terms. or something like that.

without regard for NAME, FAME, etc. and therefore logically anonymous (see previous posts on anonymous art - use the search function of this blog at the top of the page).

in my not so humble opinion, these anonymous street artists have a real message. i believe it concerns the freedom of the human spirit. and that there is always a way to create meaning outside of the commercial zone.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

fashion & art 1: vincent van gogh

frequently i find myself being old-fashioned. i suppose it has to do with my distaste of fashion. distaste of fashion? yes, you read correctly.

it's not that i dislike nice clothes, or that i dislike contemporary creativity. i dislike the enormous marketing component, the money machine which drives our fashions. not only in clothing, but also very prominently in contemporary art.

with the communication speed of the modern world, new newer newest cannot go fast enough. to maintain the illusion of `important buzz', the marketeers in fashion (and art and any other field) have to convince us time and again that `new' equals `better'.

please don't misunderstand me with regard to (post)(post)modern art. personally i feel that a much larger art world has been opened up to us in the past century, for which i'm grateful. but on considering which art works from this period i find exceptionally moving, seems to me that these works breathe the same qualities as the exceptionally moving art works from earlier times.

there is something timeless about these works. they and `fashion' are definitely not in the same existence plane.

vincent van gogh, wheat field under thunderclouds, 1890

vincent van gogh, wheat field under thunderclouds (1890)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

art & money 3: robert hughes, damien hirst, mona lisa curse

so just a short note. it turns out i've missed a tv programme on the english channel 4 called `the mona lisa curse'.

really a shame i missed it, in the programme art critic robert hughes denounces the contemporary art scene in a clearcut way, it seems. i've tried to find videos on the web, to no avail.

a taste of the well-received programme can be found in a hughes' article in the guardian.

i'm uplifted by finding a prominent art critic sharing my views. still, the new clothes of the emperor keep on being admired and talked about...for instance by germaine greer in the same guardian. germaine really illustrates very aptly what i've been trying to say: `art in the 21st century isn't about making things, the real art is marketing'. or something similar (go read for yourself). and she's serious. the hirst auction is the artwork, according to germaine, not the stuff that was being auctioned.

well. sigh again. not a very deep work then, just rather lucrative. it's more like a pop tune for the rich. but who in their right mind is going to put britney spears in the same category as a certain old and dusty johann sebastian...although according to germaine we should do so, i believe? germaine?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

art & money 2: sotheby's (& postmodernism)

just yesterday i happened upon a recent video message (2 actually) sent out to the world by sotheby's - you know, the art auction house. the first video is called `contemporary art market- a candid view from the inside'. (the second video is the most recent private viewing video for the auction of 11 november 2008,


deep sigh.

i usually try to ignore these hyped-up worlds. but as in some previous posts (first half this year i believe), when it gets too blatant i feel some kind of counterweight is necessary.

to not put a too fine point on it: sotheby's is about making money. that much becomes clear after seeing this video. its message seems to be: please keep selling and buying contemporary art at the highest prices that the economic situation allows.

quite an uplifting message for mankind, i suppose. people in deep poverty everywhere, people dying from illness, malnourishment...and then comes sotheby's with an explanation why john currin and jeff koons (oh let me add richard prince here too for good measure) are such wonderful artists, since they depict the emptiness of the jet set life. and for this wonderfulness the jet set is nudged to pay exorbitant sums...which they do...emphasizing their emptiness, i have to admit, but the so-called art is not any better for it. in my not so humble eyes these art works are shallow and feeding off the emptiness of their buyers, not drawing upon some inner treasure, not adding to the growth of human art experience.

it becomes, upon closer analysis, quite disheartening to see what incredible influence money has on contemporary art. i believe the situation completely comparable to the influence of high-risk money marketeers on the global economy (see the current financial crisis). to make the latter precise: a handful of people driven only by some primitive gluttony/competition/risk-thrill are really capable of disrupting the world economy.

likewise, the jet set with its nauseating excess of money is capable of corrupting the whole concept of intrinsic value of art. auction houses, galleries, museums, art institutions, newspapers...they all go along with the ride.

why exactly is richard prince such a wonderful artist? it is -really, realistically- because the jet set has adopted his works. this then becomes the assignment for artists: create work that will be adopted by the jet set.

john currin -like many others- proudly describes this process: how in the beginning he wanted to `break into the art world', and the way to do this: do something noone else is doing. now currin is painting shallow remakes of danish '70 porn pictures. (why sex? see the previous post on ralf kwaaknijd) it doesn't really matters what he paints anymore, he has been jetsetted for life. if you want to be similarly jetsetted, then one popular recipe is still as dumb as ever.

let me spell it out for you:

you have to confront the jet set with their idiocy, but in a very obvious and shallow way, or they won't get it, get it? don't waste your time on real technique or colour development or well, anything really artistic you know? the jet set doesn't know the difference, they've spent their energy on making money, not on looking at art. they rely on art experts, brokers, other jetsetters, auction houses etc.

do something blatant, different. but remember, stay shallow. the shallowness is important so that first art experts can be shocked (controversy is necessary to justify that your work is in some way `important!' `new!!'). and then by just keeping on doing shallowly what you are shallowly doing, some experts will start to say: oh, but it is ironic, it is deep, it is an ambiguous comment on consumerism, it is ART, you should buy now...

if this is what you want to do with your talent, then good luck, fellow artists.

for me, beautiful art (it is relatively rare) can be found in any price range. a higher price doesn't guarantee a higher quality at all. don't let all these (moneydriven) art buffs fool you into thinking otherwise. use your own eyes, your own feeling, develop them, and ... let me know ;-)