The Challenge of 'Art'

The Challenge of 'Art'

Postby gunter » Thu Feb 16, 2012 3:37 am

We know that every generation creates its own art, that is as it should be, but art has a responsibility not just to represent its generation, but to represent the best of that generation. If art doesn’t do that, it leaves people pining for the art of a previous generation and that can’t be good.

In any generation, art can probably always be divided into the good, the bad and the not bad. The good stuff invariably endures and is destined forever to perch in galleries of clinical whiteness, the bad stuff tends to get filtered out very quickly, usually by next of kin, and becomes landfill, and the not bad stuff typically becomes cherished at an individual level and may yet have its moment in the sun on the likes of the Antiques Road Show.

As we’ve discussed many times before, on various archiseek threads, what seems to differentiate much of the art of recent times from the art of previous generations, is the absence of any discernable craft in the making of much contemporary art. What used to be the one defining characteristic of art, the mastery of the craft in its making, has simply become dispensed with by a succession of artistic movements seemingly obsessed only with producing provocative objects.

There are honourable exceptions to this generalization, but if the current batch of art critics are to be believed [and most of these people probably couldn’t draw a bowl of fruit to save their lives] ‘craft’ itself has become a debased currency.

Take Aidan Dunne’s effusive critique of a new Paul Mosse show down in Kilkenny in today’s Irish Times for example.

Dunne appears to see craft in the questionable DIY practices by which Mosse apparently constructs, or de-constructs, his art out of lumps of plywood and polystyrene and he reaches for inter-galactic terminology to convey the wonder of it all, but it’s the printed images and the gushing text that I would suggest are worlds apart.

Image

The images appear to show, essentially, rubbish - shards of broken things loosely held together by a rudimentary amount of colour coordination and lashings of gullibility. The level of craft involved in producing this stuff is way below the ‘low-tech’ that the artist admits to, it’s truly craftless, I’m pretty sure I've got better stuff than this festering in the damp corner of my shed.

Dunne isn’t the worst of the current batch of Irish Times art critics, we had Finton O’Toole reviewing the recent V + A ‘Post-Modernism’ show in the Weekend Supplement a couple of weeks ago and desperately trying to connect that embarrassingly superficial phase of art and architecture with the Celtic Tiger of all things. Bizarrely O’Toole, sticking with the theme, breathlessly announced that Post-Modernism died on the day that Nama sold one of those dodgy Warhol ‘Dollar’ paintings having re-possessed it from a dodgy property developer.

I rather think Post-Modernism died more than twenty years ago, which was long before dodgy Irish property developers had dollar signs in their eyes. Apparently Finton may not have realized that what the V + A was hosting was a retrospective exhibition on Post-Modernism.

On a positive note, apparently there is a movement within the art colleges at the moment to re-evaluate the direction that modern art has gone and perhaps re-assess the merit of craft in the process of making art. If this is true, this will be good news.
gunter
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Re: The Challenge of 'Art'

Postby teak » Thu Feb 16, 2012 2:28 pm

But what has all this got to do with Irish architecture ?

Are you implying - while retaining full deniability - that similar puffery is part of Irish architecture and its critics ?
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Re: The Challenge of 'Art'

Postby gunter » Thu Feb 16, 2012 3:07 pm

teak wrote:Are you implying - while retaining full deniability - that similar puffery is part of Irish architecture and its critics ?


I think we've established that a similar puffery [to use your term] is rife in architectural criticism, it's one of the reasons that meaningful architectural discourse is virtually non-existant, as far as I can see. I don't go out looking for architectural verbiage, but if I come across it I do try to hold it up to the light on one of the threads dedicated to that particular practice.

teak wrote:But what has all this got to do with Irish architecture ?


Probably nothing, but should there be such a total disconnect between Irish art and Irish architecture?
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Re: The Challenge of 'Art'

Postby teak » Thu Feb 16, 2012 6:36 pm

My thinking was that since this place here is a forum on Irish architecture per se - I know there's a lot of other things quite extraneous to architecture on it also, but none as complex as art - that you'd be better off going to some forum dedicated to art or else just stick to the "challenge of architecture".

I would agree with most of what you're saying on what's presented in some exhibitions -- I'm often disgusted at what some gallery managers allow on their walls, as well as what good stuff they deny space to. Personally, I take no notice of newspaper critics or even gallery programmes : that's "marketing" (nothing like it really) by pseudo-sophisticates to increasingly educated punters.
But we'll get no change from the forum here on this issue.

On "the challenge of architecture" : well, it's not an easy score at all, is it ?
Non-professional critics can have their pitches dismissed into the crowd due to "ignorance" or lack of "aesthetic sense".
Criticism from within the profession is rare and usually very subtle, owing to the profession's code and the likely possibility of the challenged architect turning things around in his favour by acting the "very upset" Timid Timothy.

The most viable way in which both professional members and the public can express their views on new buildings could be the annual RIAI awards.
Of course, the RIAI management handsomely obstruct the public input to the "public" award.
And it appears from anecdote that the RIAI senior members themselves choose the "architect's building of the year" prize.
There you go.

It's been said before on this forum that public engagement with the subject of architecture as well as the education of people on the benefits of good architecture could help provide more work to architects.
But the relationship cannot be all one-way.
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