Sunday, December 30, 2012

WHAT IS ART?

Cave Paintings of Lascaux     from google


This is worthy of a discussion and has been for as long as man first picked up a stick of charcoal to draw.  From the days of the cave man when drawings of bison and deer were depicted on the walls of caves man has been involved in the act of making things and expression.  The caves of Lascaux, France did not show stiff nor ultra realistic drawing, but drawings that show movement and a knowledge of oneness with nature.
 I am sure there are people today, if these drawings were taken out of context, would call them too fluid, not realistic enough, a limited color pallet and so on. Every period of art, every movement of art has been met with controversy of some kind. From ancient Egypt to Italy, to France, to Asia and the Middle East, culture upon culture, age upon age, the needs and styles of art have changed.


Egyptian side view with frontal eye                     google image

I think another part of this discussion is why does man need to draw or create? Why did the cave man feel the need to pick up a piece of charcoal, mix earth and chalk to recreate their hunts?  One could have just told stories or sung songs.  In some cultures drawings become real things that have a life of their own.  Each culture has a need to create, to reflect upon itself and as our technology has changed so has our art.


The Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci 
from google image

Artist once were chained to their studios because paints in a tube were yet to come and easels were not portable.  Colors had to be made and ground out, brushes were licked to a point by assistants, and there were periods where anything could become a base for a color, such a mold for green, or mollusks for an intense purple.  Whole villages died due to lead poisoning from the lead in the artists paints and assistants lips were distorted from pointing brushes loaded with lead.
The Greeks came up with perfect proportion, the ideal.  Leonardo dissected bodies to learn the true structure of a human to the risk of his own life.  Math came into play as Renaissance artists wanted a truer since of perspective.
Once the camera was invented there was not the need to record images for the sole sake of representation.  Now artists could take more leeway in interpretation, emotions, and experimentation. The art movement in Paris led us away from stiff dark colors, to emotion, light and movement. Impressionism moves forward with Monet, Renior, Van Gogh, and Degas.  How does the light seem, what is the emotional play through the artist to the subject at hand.  How can I show just the quick look of movement and light?


Monet's Gardens at Giverny, France
from google image

Then came harder times with violence, poverty and war.


Salvador Dali                                                     Surrealistfrom google image


Dadaism was a reflection of a senseless time at the end of WWI that people questioned to the core of their beings the desperation of their times. Science and art often go hand in hand.  As Freud is questioning the meaning of our dreams and symbolism then surfaces art that presents symbols and the nature of the mind. Surrealism was not long to follow, then we begin to question again what perspective truly is as Picasso shows us a multi -dimensional person with the nose to the side and the eye looking forward. 

Picasso                  Cubism   google image

Cubism is born and we look at many things, not just people from a different view. We know objects are three dimensional, so what is realistic and not?  
And now we are at a time when Modern art often has a disconnect with people who view it.  So we must ask ourselves why is that?  What is it about our age and our culture that has produced art that seems is harder for people to understand?  As we are more complicated as a society, as we are more advanced as a civilization, and as our technology rapidly changes...our art reflects us as a people.  Art reflects the confusion of the time, the alienation people feel from a modern world that often leaves them in their wake of rapid change, and changing value systems.  I have oft heard it said that artists are the shaman of their times....we reflect our world back to our culture.  Modern art makes us think, asks us questions that are not simple, and rarely is a representation of the sake of representation.  


Andy Warhol                            Pop Artist


 The need is not there because we have cameras, computers, and the ever expansive flow of data.  As technology expands even further and more things become possible that seem beyond our imagination now...what will artists do with it?  They will create, that is what they do.  They will interpret our world for us when it gets to complicated to comprehend.  They will make us think deeply and help us to see things in a way we never would have.
 Should it always be pretty, should it always be easy, should it always be representational-I would put to you it should not be.  It would be to our detriment if it was.


Robert Rauschenburg      from google image


  Should it be ugly and hard to understand...yes, sometimes for that is how we are as a world and as people.  We would dishonor art to take away artists freedom to think and create, we would diminish art if we demanded artist only copy nature or people realistically and more so we would limit our growth as people and a civilization if we do not encourage our artists to experiment and grow and to envision what can be.
 If Gaudi had never envisioned architecture as if it were fluid and melting instead of angular, if Da Vinci had never dissected the first body, if Buckminister Fuller had never built the geodesic dome, if the cantilevered arch had never been invented, if Van Gogh had never painted starry night, and Michelangelo had never lay on a pallet painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, if Picasso had never painted Guernica protesting the massacre of the Basque in Spain, and Pop art had never pointed out the mass commercialism of our times, the Eiffle tower was never built, and Frank Lloyd Wright had never picked up building blocks....our world would be poorer for it. Look about where ever you are, right now.  Now imagine if there were no art..the walls bare, the architecture non existent, the furniture no imagined, the halls of all the buildings blank..so signs, no nothing, just bare..that is a world with out art.
 I am not an art historian, but I have had many art history courses.  I am open to discussion and correction.  I think we should be open to a fascinating discourse on the arts.  Please feel free to add to the discussion.
Post a Comment
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...