Monday, August 16, 2010

Does Mass Produced or Assembly Line art still have meaning?

I have been neglecting all my reading over the last few months while working on other projects so it felt great to curl up with a few of my magazines and catch up this past weekend.
As I read through the June Issue of Art Calendar, two articles made opposing statements about the current art scene and something that has bothered me in the past. In the article "The Measure of Success" there is a quote from critic Roberta Smith about the recent exhibitions in New York Museums, "....were all part of a big-box chain featuring only one brand...What's missing is art that seems made by one person out of intense personal necessity, often by hand." I turn the page to the next article, "Less is More at the 2010 Whitney Biennial" and here the writer, Fred B. Adelson, states; "The days when artists fashioned an installation of scattered pieces directly in the gallery or had their work fabricated by outside specialists now seems passe or overly extravagant; the making of art is again measured by the direct manipulation of medium. As a result many pieces possess distinctly tactile surfaces or have expressive gestural markings."
I whole-heartedly agree that art should be made by the artist's hand. There has been recent discussion on one of my lists about apprentices, etc. and I do realize that they are important. What I don't appreciate are the artists that have become so "important" and sought after that they have a hired team of artists working for them who ACTUALLY do the work. If I had the money to buy some of the artwork I really like, I would want to know that the artist ACTUALLY painted, sculpted, etc. the piece him/herself. I would hate to think that I paid a lot of money for work that JDArtist did from a rough sketch from the actual artist.

Art isn't suppose to be about 'big business' is it? Doesn't the value in art come from knowing that this very talented person created this vision by hand? Wouldn't that equate to art being less valuable if created en mass by a company of employees?

How many times has an art discussion been about the meaning and feeling behind a particular piece. The question then becomes, does that meaning change if the artist who felt it/envisioned it didn't do the work?

I don't have the ultimate answer to this but I feel the frustration of many fellow artists. I find it difficult to watch some not-so-talented artists rake in millions of dollars due to great marketing vs. talent and then know that they didn't even actually make the work. Some will chalk this up to sour grapes and I am sure that I glow green some days; but more importantly I feel that the art world is succumbing to the same problem that is hurting our country in so many ways...Commercialism. I had hoped that art would be safe from this due to the intensely personal beginnings of most artwork from deep within the artist's soul and heart.


ann said...

The idea that a well known artist hires others to copy and\or produce the artists work makes me ill. The apprenticeship of the past ages is NOT the same as this.

I think the meaning here is $$$$$.

Judith Gleason Glover said...

Robin, I started the second article and was sidetracked. I will go back and begin again after reading your thoughts.

Karoda said...

I ponder the impact of commercial art on the public in general. I've noticed that I'm much more animated when I have the opportunity to talk about what went into a piece with someone because I primarily see it as a educational opportunity to share. I enjoyed reading your thoughts this morning...thanks.