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Lollipops, lattes and ripe bananas

In my younger days I had ambitions to be a professional artist, I devoted a great deal of time and effort in developing my skills as a painter and to that end I also devoted much of my time at university to trying to understand the nuances of communication. My reasoning was rather simple, namely that any art making is about communicating ideas and reflections on our existence to the viewer of an art work.

So I did the rounds of the “scene” I went to exhibitions and openings and I developed friendships with a few people who were playing the game of ingratiating themselves with the art buying public. And eventually I came to the conclusion that the most important tool that any artist needs in their kit bag is a large trowel, with which they can lay on a substantial layer of bullshit. To “succeed” you need no talent and certainly no technical skill, you don’t even need to have anything profound to say, all you need is the right line of patter to sell yourself as an “artist”.

No where is this more the case than when it comes to abstract expressionism. Now I am just as impressed with the pretty patterns that can happen when someone throws some colour onto a panel or canvas , heck such a panel may well make the décor of your living room look really swish but when it comes down to it such “art” has absolutely nothing to say, it is entirely decorative  and probably only worth the cost of its materials . So I am naturally dismissive of the story about a four year old “artist”  that is doing the rounds:

Click for source

 Of course every parent loves the “art works” that are produced by their four year old but I can’t help thinking that the parents of this little girl are actually guilty of a type of child abuse here by using their child to make a quid or two from the gullible “art world scene”. Yeah the pictures are cute and even sort of pleasing but really do they have anything to say?

Look now to the picture at the head of this piece and tell me is that Art?

Come on does it have anything to say about the human condition either?

To my mind this sort of thing is rather like our celebrity culture ; its all about spin and propaganda and there is no subculture in our society that exhibits a greater ratio of spin to substance than the “art world”. We have government departments  and quangos devoted to the development of “Art”and they really collectively produce very little of substance , but they certainly do keep a whole class of idiot savants in lollipops and Latte, worse still the public have been lead to believe that we should bow down to the idea that the value of an art work is entirely dependant upon how much money successive idiots are  are prepared to pay for  coloured mud   spread on canvas. Likewise we are fed the myths  that certain individuals should be seen as some sort of  mystic visionary for producing works such as the one done by Aelita Andre or any other piece of “modern Art”  for that matter .

However if you take a moment to scrape the bullshit away from your eyes you may just appreciate that the picture at the head of this page was painted by a Chimpanzee and that the one done by the four year old is not substantively different,  maybe we should consider  that sobering thought as we laugh at the idiot who has paid  $24000 an  Aelita Andre painting…

Cheers Comrades

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16 Comments

  1. Craigy says:

    There has never been a bigger argument for wealth distribution than this. The stupid rich (who are the art world’s patrons) clearly have been allowed to grab too much of our cash, if they can afford to waste it on art that doesn’t have a message or a story.

    Far better that we tax these idiots and give the money to struggling Aboriginal artists who are painting the story of the history of this land and its culture.

    Or perhaps use it on better educating some wingnuts about science. Now that would be money well spent
    .

  2. Ray Dixon says:

    The chimp’s painting is better.

  3. Iain Hall says:

    To be honest Craigy there is just as much bullshit spread when it comes to aboriginal art as there is about any other genre, that said I like some of the stuff as much as anyone else (the wife bought a lovely painting in Alice Springs recently) especially if it shows evidence of good craftsmanship.

    That said I reject your argument that this is a good reason to further “tax the rich” so that you can make real your fantasies of wealth redistribution and the creation of a socialist utopia
    but speaking of science please watch the presentation from Bob Carter in the earlier post

  4. Ray Dixon says:

    No, Craigy, tax the rich and use the money to pay for super solar collectors on the homes of those earning under $100,000. You know, the ones who will otherwise be hit hardest by a carbon tax. Now that would be a plan that might work to reduce carbon emissions.

  5. Blinded by the headlights of knowledge says:

    More than 1.8 million people visited the Gallery of Modern Art and the Queensland Art Gallery complex in Brisbane last year.

    http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2011/04/05/3182765.htm

  6. Iain Hall says:

    Which proves precisely what Zane?
    I have visited the GOMA gallery a couple of times as well for that matter and to be honest of all of the exhibits there there were perhaps a handful that are worth more than the most perfunctory viewing. ( but I like the slippery slides and the Lego ) and I think that Queensland Art Gallery is quite good.
    Enough of the sniping if you don’t agree with the point that I’m making here then please explain why I am wrong, after all you are in on the art game so it should be a lay down mizzaire for you to put a counter argument.

  7. Blinded by the headlights of knowledge says:

    “We have government departments and quangos devoted to the development of “Art”and they really collectively produce very little of substance , but they certainly do keep a whole class of idiot savants in lollipops and Latte…”

    GOMA and QAG are government departments, so there are more than 1.8 million idiot savants in QLD according to Iain Hall. LOL.

  8. Iain Hall says:

    Zane its is not the public who are the “idiot savants” kept in “Lattes and lollipops” its the artists and Arts administrators that I am talking about here.

  9. Blinded by the headlights of knowledge says:

    But Iain, these people produce “very little of substance” according to you. And yet 1.8 million people went to this gallery, the most well attended gallery in Australia? How can this be? Are you seriously suggesting that all 1.8 million people are on the “bow down”? I would suggest that a large number of those 1.8 million had a good time; GOMA & QAG stand as a great example to the rest of the Government funded arts institutions in Australia by making sometimes complex and demanding contemporary arts practice available to vast demographic of ordinary Australians. GOMA & QAG make a mockery of the “it’s all elitist latte sipping small audience rubbish” wingnut stance. Which, I might add is a pretty thin arguement anyway, since the 1990s ABS statistics clearly show that more Australians attend galleries than attend sporting events. LOL.

  10. Iain Hall says:

    Zane

    .But Iain, these people produce “very little of substance” according to you.

    Yep and that is just my humble opinion, which I’m entitled to hold.

    And yet 1.8 million people went to this gallery, the most well attended gallery in Australia?

    Well at least part of that is down to it being well located adjacent to South bank right in the middle of the city.

    How can this be? Are you seriously suggesting that all 1.8 million people are on the “bow down”?

    Well to some extent yes , because the idea that there is something really special about art making/artists is a very common meme among the teachers and educators and this I put down to some very long standing marketing by the Arts industry and celebrity culture.

    I would suggest that a large number of those 1.8 million had a good time; GOMA & QAG stand as a great example to the rest of the Government funded arts institutions in Australia by making sometimes complex and demanding contemporary arts practice available to vast demographic of ordinary Australians.

    I see that you have one of those trowels for spreading the bovine excrement Zane. If any work of art is so wilfully obscure that it requires explanation or extensive exposition by a gallery then surely it fails as a piece of communication?

    GOMA & QAG make a mockery of the “it’s all elitist latte sipping small audience rubbish” wingnut stance.

    No what they prove is that a consistently slick advertising campaign can triumph over the people’s critical facility, we are told that we are seeing modern high art and what do they give us? a load of coloured shopping bags hung from an armature attached to the ceiling! Its cute but without any substantive meaning.

    Which, I might add is a pretty thin argument anyway, since the 1990s ABS statistics clearly show that more Australians attend galleries than attend sporting events. LOL.

    I doubt that to be honest but from my observations of people attending galleries most pay rather little attention to the actual exhibits and it seesm that many treat the experience rather like a walk in an indoor park.

  11. Blinded by the headlights of knowledge says:

    FTW: Demand for arts and culture now easily outweighs football and cricket. More than 80% of Australians attend a cultural activity compared to 45% who go to a sporting event. Each year more than 7 million Australians attend performances and more than 3 million crowd through galleries…..look it up if you can be bothered to be proved wrong…again. Enuff from me. Have a nice day.

  12. Iain Hall says:

    Yes Zane but how many people are willing to pay to enjoy that art and culture?
    People are happy pay to watch sport live and they pay to watch it on TV they avidly consume it on free to air TV and radio as well, they happily pay to listen to tribute bands and all manner of “ordinary entertainments” but if it were to cost money to attend the likes of GOMA or QAG how many people would do so????

  13. Blinded by the headlights of knowledge says:

    Iain you really are stupid, the majority of the large international art exhibitions at GOMA are pay on entry, they are NOT FREE. Attendances for its Andy Warhol retrospective reached 232,000, while Picasso and His Collection attracted more than 200,000 visitors. Tickets to the big exhibitions average $15-$20 for adults and $35-$45 for a family.

    Iain Hall: try hard. Fail.

    Now that really is enuff, your whole position is, as usual shot down in flames by FACTS. I would try more name calling now, you are better at that than anything resembling rational, informed debate.

  14. Iain Hall says:

    Really Zane you are clasping at straws there, How many people attend sporting contests over the time that such shows are running?
    More importantly how many people actually get out and have a go at the sports ect themselves?
    Unlike you I have absolutely no faith in high art that needs “experts” to interpret it to the masses.
    IF a work of art needs explaining it has failed as communication.

  15. Blinded by the headlights of knowledge says:

    Right so all those masses of people that attend galleries in Australia are stupid? Right, I get it now, you actually think that most Australians are as thick as you are and need things explaining, because of course they are incapable of deciding if they like something or not for themselves.

  16. Iain Hall says:

    Zane
    I am actually quite well read when it comes to Art and Art history and my opinion does not come form any shortcomings in my “art education”. It is because I understand a fair bit about the history that I appreciate the fact that much of it is all spin and no top when it comes to modern art. and that for a lot of people it comes down to being able to say that they were there. With a big dose of the “emperor’s clothes effect” thrown in namely they are going to say that they “like” it even if in their hearts they think its crap because they don’t want to be considered stupid or uneducated.

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