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Art or Arse?
Last Post 11 Dec 2003 08:37 AM by Dromed. 11 Replies.
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DromedUser is Offline
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Dromed

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11 Dec 2003 08:37 AM
    I've just read an article in Hotpress (ahem...Sshhhh I know I know!)on the artist Sebastian Horsley. Horsely is famous for courting controversy - most notably for being the first westerner to take part in the Easter crucifixion ceremony in the Philippines, which he documented and toured as an exhibition called The Butterfly Pinned. Anyway, Horsely has gone a step further and sent his friends (among which he counts Nick Cave and Wil Self)his own xmas cards with a picture of him having sex with a prostitute on the front, not sooo bad perhaps. However, the picture was taken at a brothel in Amsterdam, and the prostitute is an amputee. Horsley claims that it's art because it's provoking a reaction, he sees the image as being justified cos it makes society look at why they find images like this so taboo, so uncomfortable. So my question is where does art become arse.....where is the line drawn? Tracy Emin and Damien Hirst have made millions from their artworks - Is there any merit in a pickled shark in a fish tank?
    Q2User is Offline
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    11 Dec 2003 10:06 AM
    I quite like art, museums etc., but the type I especially like is art that provokes thought, or emotion or an intuition simply by gazing upon an image. That's good exploratory art. But in my view, what you've described here Dromed is "art" purely designed to attract attention to one's self or to disgust people or to provide a thrill for the more perverse type of people. That's not art in the true sense of the word in my opinion. Arse is definitely my vote Q2
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    11 Dec 2003 11:28 AM
    Read that too - when asked whether he's doing it for attention or not, he strongly agrees that he's doing it for attention. There's nothing thought-provoking, and close to zero artistic integrity about what he sent to his acquaintances. Arse.
    eyeballkidUser is Offline
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    11 Dec 2003 02:11 PM
    i think the problem with most modern art is that it is all about concepts, and unfortunately the highest concept most artists can come up with is to shock the viewer. that's not to say there's no place for ideas in art, but you need to coordinate it with an aesthetic sense, for example if picasso wasn't such an accomplished artist his cubist way of seeing the world would have looked rubbish. the chapman brothers' idea of sticking clowns heads on paintings by goya is an interesting one, but it looks stupid. to be fair to damian hirst most of his stuff does look good, but only rarely, such as his 'pharmacy' series does he align his visual sense with a good idea.
    conor-immediateUser is Offline
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    11 Dec 2003 06:11 PM
    Modern art is an interesting one. I'm doing an essay at the moment on a fellow called John Ashbery - a poet from the New York School, and he's basically the poetic equivalent of Abstract Expressionism. Here's an excerpt from my essay which sums up the dilemma which modern art has exposed: '...throughout the poem, arbitrariness is put forward as the only concept which accurately reflects reality, whilst attempts to impose order (romantically or otherwise) are deemed to be inadequate results of the restrictive human mind: ...The human mind Cannot retain anything except perhaps the dismal two-note theme Of some sodden "dump" or lament. But the water surface ripples, the whole light changes (lines 17-20). This "dismal two-note theme" is a reference to the duality of so many value systems, a theme which re-emerges later: "What is the matter with the plain old-fashioned cause-and-effect?" the poem sarcastically asks (211). It is important to note, however, that before the astute reader can point out the fundamental flaw in the rejection of fixed value systems (since this implies the holding of fixed values in itself), the poem acknowledges this by calling attention to the tendency of its lines to eat themselves up, so that what is ultimately presented is the presence of absence which, as it asserts, is nonetheless important: “Nevertheless these are fundamental absences, struggling to / get up and be off themselves” (191-192).' This is why we are seeing blank canvasses in galleries and installation pieces from which no particular meaning can be taken - it is the art produced from a dilemma within a dilemma within a dilemma..... Tom Wolfe's book "The Painted Word" is fantastic. It's basically about how modern art has been reduced to art theory. He goes on and on describing how all traces of expression were gradually ironed out (from Abstract Expressionism through to Action painting to Pop art to OP art to installations etc.) until he gives an example of what art has become - a "visual" piece by a guy called Lawrence Weiner consisting of these sentences: '1. The artist may construct the piece 2. The piece may be fabricated 3. The piece need not be built Each being equal and consistent with the intent of the artist the decision as to the condition rests with the receiver upon the occasion of receivership.' At the risk of generalizing, Modern art is a trap. It's intellectual rather than intuitive, therefore it is elitist. I'm getting scared that I'm being sucked into the world of academia, 'cos I began my essay on John Ashbery with contempt for his poetry, but I'm starting to enjoy it now, but only because I've read the theory behind it. That aint good. Art needs to get back to the immediate. Which is what I saw in the Turner Prize this year- I thought most of that stuff was very traditional, especially the winner. Phew...
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    11 Dec 2003 06:25 PM
    I suppose in the world of pure modern art, morals are merely constructed value-systems, therefore Horsely's prostitute card is just an image - a flat image, regardless of what it's showing. It's colours on paper. Sure, it depicts something that happened, but the past only exists in our minds...etc....etc....etc.... Art is something that can get INSIDE people's experience of the world, and in doing so, subtly propose an ideal (or not). The reductive nature of modern art denies this ability.
    DromedUser is Offline
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    12 Dec 2003 09:27 AM
    Some interesting ideas there Conor. To be honest I'm not 100% for or against Modern Art. There's work I enjoy and stuff i think is an insult to our intelligence, but where to draw the line is the difficulty. I don't believe that 'fine' art is wholly intuitive and all modern art is intellectual, by any means. I think if something stimulates your intellect then an emotional reaction or response usually follows it. So all art is both intuitive and intellectual. I think many people see modern art as being elitest because they think there must be some clever meaning behind it, or 'what's the point of it all?' and it seems very inaccessable but often there isn't a hidden deeper meaning - it's upfront and in your face. I like modern art that shocks me to a degree. I liked the idea that Horsley was presenting an image that modern, civilised society 'should' find shocking because it drags out taboo subjects and demand we form an opinion on them one way or another instead of brushing them under the carpet and pretending it doesn't exist, it's not real. I feel that if I didn't know the background to the image in question I would have felt something quite different, if it had of been Horsley with his wife say, who happend to be an amputtee, it would have been something brave and bold, beautiful even. I'd have admired that someone had the guts to present an image like that if it were saying 'look this woman is a sexual being in her own right' - but the nature of the image, the transaction that's taking place is cold and stinks of power, control and exploitation. So we see the artist seeking his own 'artistic' and sexual gratification which provokes the viewer in to forming an opinion on the artist and not on the image, it's self-defeating. I quite liked Grayson Perry's ceramic urns which earned him the turner prize recently. They were a return to a more traditional medium perhaps but again, presented some ditrurbing images and ideas. There was something very profound in putting images with the theme of say abuse, on something as delicate and 'vulnerable'as an urn.
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    12 Dec 2003 11:40 AM
    i agree when you say that art needs to return to the immediate. but that's not to say it can't contain complex and challenging ideas behind it. for example david lynch's 'mulholland drive' is a baffling yet extremely enjoyable film. not understanding the plot (or anything that went on) isn't a barrier to liking a well made film. afterwards i read a number of theories about what it was about, which made me like it even more. the point is that the film appealed to me on numerous emotional levels before i even knew what the intellectual connotations were. but if you go to the opposite extreme where something is all immediacy without any good ideas behind it, you just get a case of emotional manipulation without an intellectual stimulation. i find a lot of modern art to fall into either one of these extremes. i suppose extremism is one of the more significant phenomemons of the last century so it's hardly surprising. so is modern art just representative of our times then?
    conor-immediateUser is Offline
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    12 Dec 2003 04:41 PM
    yeah ,definitely, modern art IS representative of our times. These shallow, disturbing, extreme times in which we can press a button to change an image from Baghdad bombing to American sitcom... no wonder art has become twisted and self-referential. Fixed values have been exposed as the myths they are. All you can believe in now is your individual subjective opinion and emotions. This argument is therefore pointless, but that doesn't stop us from arguing, just like art shouldn't stop seeking greater heights of beauty, instead of just chasing its own tail.
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    12 Dec 2003 04:50 PM
    I just want to clarify that I'm not totally against modern art, Dromed - I'm not just into the realists. Personally, my favourite artist is Egon Schiele, who couldn't really be called a realist, but his paintings of the human body have so many effects on me that it can't really be put into words. Which I like 'cos it's often forgotten that words are only representations of meaning, feeling etc. (Contrary to the sentiments of The Bible - "In the beginning was the word.." but that's off-topic). I don't really know what my central point is... ...I'm lost... ..strange that.. ...ooh "Six Feet Under" is on tonight...
    Vent My SpleenUser is Offline
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    15 Dec 2003 08:50 AM
    Funny you should mention Schiele as one of my own favourites is Modigliani, an artist whose style I always thought similar to Schiele. Both artists died young and never really fulfilled their potential.
    conor-immediateUser is Offline
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    15 Dec 2003 12:13 PM
    ooh, I've never heard of him! gotta check that out! Thanks
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