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Mr. Tea
22-10-2012, 04:05 PM
Now I've lured you in with my intentionally provocative thread title...

I went to Amsterdam a couple of weeks ago and had a look around a very large, nicely appointed museum of modern art (the Stedelijk, if anyone knows it). Every few months I go somewhere like this in the vague belief or hope that it is somehow doing me some good, or perhaps I just like to think of myself as the kind of person who occasionally goes to galleries to see 'challenging' things. But as usual, the reaction I got from a few of the pieces was "that's kind of cool, I guess", while from others - probably the majority - it was more like "huh".

I can think of three possible explanations here:

1) The meaning of these artworks is blindingly obvious to most people but I'm just too stupid or artistically insensitive to intuitively understand it. I think I can dismiss this because no-one else in the gallery seemed to be having 'eureka!' moments as they looked at, for example, a square white canvas with a row of metal bolts stuck in it.

Also, if the concept supposedly represented by a piece of conceptual art were that obvious, they wouldn't need these little bits of text on the wall next to them to tell you what they're meant to mean. These are interesting in themselves, with their own particular cant that is remarkably consistent between different kinds of art and between different galleries and museums in different countries. "The viewer is invited into a dialogue with..."; "The viewer is forced to consider the relation between..."; well actually I don't feel like I've been invited into or forced to do anything. I'm looking at a square white canvas with a row of metal bolts stuck in it and I see...a square white canvas with a row of metal bolts stuck in it. If whatever concept the artist intended to imbue into the piece were in any way obvious, surely I would see it and wouldn't need to be told what the concept was?

An analogue in representational art would be a painting of a horse with a bit of text on the wall next to it saying "this is a painting of a horse". If you have to be told that, then it fails pretty miserably as a piece of representational art, doesn't it? (Like a proud parent to a small child who's just produced an expressive polychromatic scribble: "That's lovely, darling! What is it?") There might be some bit of incidental background information that the text could supply - that the horse belonged to Napoleon, say - which isn't obvious from the painting, but the simple fact of it being a horse should be obvious to anyone who's ever seen a horse before.

2) There really is no meaning inherent in any of these pieces, or at best the meaning is apparent only to the artist responsible for it and perhaps the handful of other artists who were involved in the same specific scene or movement. This seems a rather uncharitable explanation as it paints the whole of conceptual art as a case of emperor's-new-clothes, almost a colossal extended exercise in practical trolling.

3) An intermediate position in which the meaning of conceptual pieces is apparent to people who have studied conceptual art to a high level and 'speak the language' - so that they might get something from a piece that the rest of us would have to be told by the wall-text. This is really no different from most other highly developed academic fields; after all, a paper on topology would make very little sense to someone without at least a basic grounding in that field, but it has a great deal of meaning to people who work in it.

But this position does kind of imply that there's not much point in people who aren't schooled in conceptual art bothering to look at it.

Thoughts?

IdleRich
22-10-2012, 04:32 PM
I thought that art was a generally pointless activity in that it is something that does not have an immediate practical purpose - such activities are arguably something that separate humans from animals. Its lack of point in the standard sense is probably one of the things that makes it art.
I don't think that the three positions you've outlined above are exhaustive. I'd say that there are various positions similar to the last one - one could be that there is some kind of meaning or value in some (though probably not all, another problem with your categories is that each assume that all conceptual art is the same and that it must be either all meaningless or all meaningful) artworks but that meaning is only accessible to people doing some kind of work - be it thought or research - to help them understand it. Arguably that's the case with artworks such as novels by Pynchon or the like and I know you don't have a problem with that.

baboon2004
22-10-2012, 04:46 PM
Good question. I've always thought that you should get something out of a piece of art in order to capture your interest; if it doesn't pique your interest in any way whatsoever, or you find it utterly impenetrable with no payback, then quite frankly why bother? If there's a bit of interest and you can go away and learn more and come back and appreciate it to a greater degree, then all well and good, but if not, then life is short. As an example, opera - I don't like most of it, but there are enough bits I do find beautiful, that I'd be quite interested to talk with someone who's really into it, to learn more. Modern conceptual art, on the other hand, I've got precisely nothing from, so I really can't be arsed ever going to see any of it ever again.

I'm not sure the comparison with academic disciplines quite works, cos of the different social context - no layperson goes to a specialist topology exhibit of a weekend, but people go to see modern art in their droves and presumably hope to get something out of that experience. Although often I think that thing comes not from the artworks themselves, but from the social cachet of consuming, and being seen to consume, 'high art'.

Leo
22-10-2012, 05:17 PM
a few thoughts from someone with a passing interest in the arts (but never studied it, etc.), keeping in mind that i'm as baffled as anyone about some work:

- point #3 seems most likely, although it doesn't always exclude non-experts.

- seems obvious, but some conceptual art is simply better than others. two elements in play: is the "concept" interesting, and is the execution of the concept done well or poorly? the ability to combine the two is what makes for a better work (again, an obvious point).

- this is sort of nitpicking but...non-representational art is not the same thing as conceptual art (although it sometimes is).

- art doesn't always have a detailed, specific "point", so it's a bit self-defeating to always expect one. a dark, brooding mark rothko painting can conjure strong emotions in a viewer without actually having a specific message or making a particular point. sometimes the vagueness enhances the impact. sometimes the mere fact that a work of art has raised an emotion is enough. also, the emotion with lack of a specific message/point provides a landscape for each viewer to interpret a meaning of their own, in their own way. the sadness conjured by a rothko manifests itself in different ways for different people.

- i rather enjoy a four-step process for viewing art: 1) look at a piece of art, 2) take a stab at determining some sort of meaning, 3) read the wall card to learn what the artist intended with the work, and then 4) view the piece again and judge how successful the artist was with the work.

- as with music, sometimes a work of art is interesting BECAUSE it's so vexing to figure out.

- don't feel like you have to understand everything. sometimes an undefinable sensation that flows over you when viewing a work is wonderful in and of itself.

Mr. Tea
22-10-2012, 05:38 PM
I thought that art was a generally pointless activity in that it is something that does not have an immediate practical purpose - such activities are arguably something that separate humans from animals. Its lack of point in the standard sense is probably one of the things that makes it art.
I don't think that the three positions you've outlined above are exhaustive. I'd say that there are various positions similar to the last one - one could be that there is some kind of meaning or value in some (though probably not all, another problem with your categories is that each assume that all conceptual art is the same and that it must be either all meaningless or all meaningful) artworks but that meaning is only accessible to people doing some kind of work - be it thought or research - to help them understand it. Arguably that's the case with artworks such as novels by Pynchon or the like and I know you don't have a problem with that.

Well yes, I guess "point" was perhaps the wrong word, since no art has a practical "point" to it. What I meant was, what's the point in an uneducated oik like me going to see this extremely abstruse, rarefied art that I don't understand?

And yeah, I do read some literature that a lot of people would consider abstruse to the point of being extremely pretentious - Cyclonopedia springs to mind - and I like some music that a lot of people would consider very unmusical and wouldn't see the "point" in listening to. So I can't really explain this disparity between between my standards of what is worth engaging with in terms of visual art vs. literature or music. It's just one of those things I suppose. I guess you enjoy films that probably many people would consider meaningless or nonsensical. And there are probably people who enjoy conceptual art or avante-garde theatre and dance who would consider Pynchon or Burroughs to be hopelessly pretentious and abstruse.

Mr. Tea
22-10-2012, 05:51 PM
I'm not sure the comparison with academic disciplines quite works, cos of the different social context - no layperson goes to a specialist topology exhibit of a weekend, but people go to see modern art in their droves and presumably hope to get something out of that experience. Although often I think that thing comes not from the artworks themselves, but from the social cachet of consuming, and being seen to consume, 'high art'.

Yep, this is what I'm wondering. Are they all getting something out of it that I'm not? (I should think probably not, because most people, like me, have not read stacks and stacks of modern art theory.) Or are they, like me, traipsing around looking at stuff they don't understand, sometimes getting a feeling of "oh, that's pretty neat" but mostly doing it, if we're entirely honest, so they can pat themselves on the back afterwards for having done something "cultured"?

And who says that seeing a gallery full of weird installations and abstract sculptures is any more "cultured" than an exhibition of Turner or Rembrandt or whatever? I think there's a sneaky prejudice against representational art that's seeped into the popular consciousness and has infused into the opinions of ordinary bods like me who have no training in art beyond high school (I mean, I didn't even do visual art at GCSE, I did drama because it was loads more fun and the art teachers were annoying dicks). So yeah, fuck it, next time I go to a gallery I'd going to see some pretty pictures. There was an exhibition of paintings from Mughal India at the Ashmolean in Oxford recently that totally blew me away.

Edit: the other day I met a sculptor who produces these sort of semi-abstract pieces based on found forms in wood and stone. Seriously, seriously impressive stuff. Just powerful and beautiful in a deep, wordless way. He talked a lot about the state of modern British art and to hear him excoriate Damien Hirst was as pleasurable as looking at his (the sculptor's) work. The fact that Hirst is a many-times millionaire and international celebrity says a lot about the relationship between art, the state, the popular consciousness and capitalism, I think. You seen his horrible fucking great pregnant woman? Ugh.

woops
22-10-2012, 06:00 PM
I will never forgive you for not naming this thread 'Pointless but it makes us waffle to ourselves'

Mr. Tea
22-10-2012, 06:19 PM
- art doesn't always have a detailed, specific "point", so it's a bit self-defeating to always expect one. a dark, brooding mark rothko painting can conjure strong emotions in a viewer without actually having a specific message or making a particular point. sometimes the vagueness enhances the impact. sometimes the mere fact that a work of art has raised an emotion is enough. also, the emotion with lack of a specific message/point provides a landscape for each viewer to interpret a meaning of their own, in their own way. the sadness conjured by a rothko manifests itself in different ways for different people.

OK, perhaps it's expecting too much to demand that each piece evoke a particular "concept". Or maybe "conceptual art" is a misleading label, or maybe (as you point out) this stems from my own confusion between conceptual, abstract and other non-representational kinds of art. (Is there an easy-to-understand definition of "conceptual art", as opposed to abstract art?)


- don't feel like you have to understand everything. sometimes an undefinable sensation that flows over you when viewing a work is wonderful in and of itself.

It's not that I don't sometimes have these sensations - it's just that I have them sufficiently rarely that paying a tenner and spending a couple of hours craning my neck seems a big expenditure for something that probably won't happen.

Leo
22-10-2012, 07:04 PM
(Is there an easy-to-understand definition of "conceptual art", as opposed to abstract art?)

yeah, i think it might be semantics. conceptual art is a pretty specific, defined genre where the idea takes precedence over the actual finished work. a good example is sol lewitt's wall drawings, which are reproduced endlessly and can be drawn by anyone. he's quoted as saying:


"In conceptual art, the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work. When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes a machine that makes the art.

abstract art is forms/colors/lines which defy reality, shapes and images that don't exist in nature.

mistersloane
23-10-2012, 12:29 AM
I hope this is useful? These are from a former artist whose work I used to show and whose work I really like, she's just started a BA in art, and she's been sending me her essay questions so I can explain them to her. I thought they were quite interesting as first essay questions in a BA, they're certainly much harder that stuff I had to do at MA.

Here you go :

EXHIBITIONS:
Art of Change: New Directions from China - Hayward Gallery (ends 09.12.12)
Kiki Smith - Timothy Taylor Gallery (12.10-17.11.12)
Raymond Pettibon - Sadie Coles (03.10-17.11.12)
Goshka Macuga - Kate MacGarry (ends 27.10.12)
Peter Fischli and David Weiss - Sprüth Magers (10.10-10.11.12)
Eric Bainbridge - Camden Arts Centre (28.09-02.12.12)
Tom Friedman - Stephen Friedman Gallery (09.10-10.11)
Tino Sehgal - Tate Modern (ends 28.10.12)
Rashid Johnson - South London Gallery (28.09-25.11.12)
The Individual and the Organisation: Artist Placement Group 1966-79– Raven Row (ends 16.12.12)
Paul Sietsema – Drawing Room (ends 20.11.12)
Luc Tuymans - David Zwirner (05.10-17.11.12)

Question 1. How can a work of art take into account its viewers' subjectivity?

Include in your response to the question a discussion of how the exhibitions you choose to look at take into account, or fail to take into account, the viewer's subjectivity - in terms of their gender, ethnicity, sexuality, physical embodiment and/or socio-economic identity.

NB. The viewer's subjectivity may be taken into account in the work, either in terms of the sort of person who will look at it or in terms of what is represented or symbolised in someway within the work itself. The viewer’s subjectivity may, for example, be implicit in the spatiality of the work or its cultural references, in the type of context it is shown within, or in accompanying textual commentary.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Hal Foster (1996), 'The Crux of Minimalism', The Return of the Real, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT.
Nicolas Bourriaud (2002) Relational Aesthetics, Dijon: Presses du reel.
Linda Nead (1992), 'Redrawing the Lines', in The Female Nude: art, obscenity and sexuality, London: Routledge.
Robert J. C. Young (2003) Post-colonialism: a very short introduction, Oxford University Press
Nikos Papastergiadis (2004) 'The Limits of Cultural Translation' in Over Here: international perspectives on art and culture, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT
John Berger (1972), Chapter 3 (pp.45-64), Ways of Seeing, London: Penguin.

Question 2. To what degree can the meaning or experience of a work of art be independent of context?

Include in your response a discussion of the sort of context you think the exhibitions you choose to look at aspire either to engage or to avoid, how they do this, and how successful they are in doing so.

NB. The context of a work of art could be taken to be its physical environment or its institutional setting; it could be its relation to social groups or historical events, as well as to other images within or without the world of art.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Brain O’Doherty (1999), Inside the White Cube: The ideology of the gallery space, Berkeley: University of California Press.
Miwon Kwon (1997) ‘One Place After Another: Notes on site specificity’, October v.80 (Spring 1997), Cambridge, Mass.: MIT, 85-110.
Michael Fried (1998), ‘Art and Objecthood’, Art and Objecthood: Essays and Reviews, Chicago; London: University of Chicago Press. [Also in Gregory Battcock (ed.), Minimal Art: A critical anthology]
Douglas Crimp (2000), ‘This is not a museum of art’, On the Museum’s Ruins, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT, [also in: Marcel Broodthaers, Minneapolis: Walker Arts Centre].
James Meyer (2009), ‘The Minimal Unconscious’, October v.130, (Fall 2009), Cambridge, Mass.: MIT, 141-176
Susan Sontag (1996), ‘Against Interpretation’, Against Interpretation, Vintage, London.

Question 3. How important is the medium or discipline in the reading or experience of a work of art?

Include in your response to the question a discussion of how the terms ‘medium’ and/or ‘discipline’ apply to the exhibition you choose to write about. Consider the significance of materials as used in the works of art you discuss, and the way they are used. For example, consider their significance when used in a work of art compared to that they have when found in the wider world.

NB. The medium of a work of art is not only the physical substance it is made of, but the conventions of interpretation and reception the work implies, as well as the historical and social context in which it exists. Painting as a medium, for example, is an historical evolving use of paint to make paintings within the context of varying modes of reception and interpretations. Consider some of this broader picture in your research and writing.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Marshal Mcluhan (2003), 'The Medium is the Message', Understanding Media: The extensions of man, Corte Madera, Calif. : Gingko Press.
Clement Greenberg (1995), ‘Modernist Painting’, The Collected Essays and Criticism vol. 4: Modernism with a vengeance, 1957-1969, Chicago: Chicago University Press.
Rosalind Krauss (1999), A Voyage on the North Sea: Art in the Age of the Post-Medium Condition, London: Thames and Hudson.
Nicolas Bourriaud (2005) Post-production: Culture as screenplay, how art reprograms the world, New York: Lukas & Sternberg.
Boris Groys (2008), ‘Art in the Age of Digitalisation’, Art Power, Cambridge, Mass.; London: MIT.
Susan Sontag (2002), ‘In Plato’s Cave’, On Photography, London: Penguin

Research:

You should use theoretical and/or historical research to inform your response to the question you choose, for which the brief bibliography mentioned under each question should serve you as a starting point. You may consider drawing in other objects to compare and contrast with the exhibition or exhibitions you focus on, whether they be other contemporary exhibitions or historical precedents, such as those dealt with in the lecture program, or other cultural objects, practices or events.

IdleRich
23-10-2012, 11:03 AM
"Is there an easy-to-understand definition of "conceptual art", as opposed to abstract art?"
I guess there is something here

http://ora.ox.ac.uk/objects/uuid:1ce65d49-6864-4a29-8600-5c54e405ef5e

If I remember correctly she attempted to tighten up a lot a lot of those seemingly off the cuff (certainly non-rigourous) and often contradictory statements by early conceptual artists such as Lewitt.

craner
23-10-2012, 11:53 AM
Conceptual art is the end of the narrative of avant-garde fine art, which gathered projectile-pace in the Twentieth Century and things like Fluxus signalled the end of it in the 1970s. Since the end of the 1980s it has been about auctions, stock-pricing, merchandise, critical theory, blockbuster shows. It's a perculiar market of ideas but, sadly, the ideas are weak: a lot of half-digested Baudrillard and Foucault augmenting blatant chancers like Damien Hirst, David Shrigley, Martin Creed. It's rotten and pathetic, and the only thing more pathetic is the laughable characters on the margins, the critics and curators "interpreting" this stuff for spectators and punters. This is bascially maintaining an illusion of legitimacy and value which allows dealers to work and score big price hits. The critics, in particular, are even worse than the academics, as they walk a fine line between cynicism and naivete that makes them look both stupid and venal. They have their own interests at stake too: their newspapers columns, journal interviews, TV series. There is little difference between the art world and fashion world now, and there may as well be no division -- the fashion world has more coherence and in a way more authenticity and serves a real-world function, to inspire and supply the high street. Anna Wintour is still connected to the logistical supply chain. The art market serves no such function, beyond sending visual signals to the world of graphic and product design and media aesthetics. Although it is interesting that the likes of Mondrian, Matisse and Warhol still exert greater subliminal influcence on these areas than, say, Fluxus or the YBAs.

Those big Abstract Expressionist and Minimalist canvases are what they are: massive Romantic or Classical objects. If you remember Clement Greenberg's essays, Pollock was in a tradition, a line of linked and progressive fathers and innovators. He split the difference between T.S. Eliot and Leon Trotsky. The conceptual art movement was, from the beginning, very different and in part opposition to this. It does not oppose anything now -- even at its most nihilistic, it is striking how well-attuned and media and market savvy these wild young souls are. Nihilistic idceas have great cultural and commercial cache, because these are simply the same thing. There is no opposition or agitation in nihilism in the art world -- the only problem is the stench of fraud and fad. So the smartest collectors would have followed Saatchi's hit-or-miss art school scouring, but may be more cautious now -- how exactly will these investments turn out.

woops
23-10-2012, 01:48 PM
Fucking hell Craner.
I bet you're glad you asked now Mr. Tea.

Mr. Tea
23-10-2012, 02:48 PM
Mistersloane, thanks for that, looks interesting - I'll get a cuppa in a bit and try and digest it.

Rich: yeah, I was thinking of Louise's thesis when I started this thread. I knew it was on conceptual art but I hadn't realized the title was such general question.

Ollie:


If you remember Clement Greenberg's essays...

Afraid those passed me by, old bean, but this:


conceptual art [...] does not oppose anything now -- even at its most nihilistic, it is striking how well-attuned and media and market savvy these wild young souls are. Nihilistic idceas have great cultural and commercial cache, because these are simply the same thing. There is no opposition or agitation in nihilism in the art world -- the only problem is the stench of fraud and fad.

makes sense. The idea that someone like Hirst is some sort of transgressive enfant terrible is utterly laughable, I mean he could hardly be any more Establishment if his surname was Windsor.

IdleRich
23-10-2012, 04:51 PM
But that's the same in all fields isn't it? The well-travelled path from nonentity to rebel artist followed by wider success and absorption into the mainstream with all that brings - including the occasional lip-service to still being part of the underground. Doesn't matter if you're a film-maker or a musician or an artist. The fact that Hirst is now pretty much the art equivalent of "Sir" Mick Jagger shouldn't be used as a stick to beat conceptual art in general or even Hirst's earlier work.

Leo
23-10-2012, 05:05 PM
interesting with some valid points, craner, although a fair bit more cynical than how i see it. not really fair to paint all conceptualists as frauds just because of damien hirst's career path. i wouldn't put him in the same category as john baldessari or tino sehgal.

vimothy
23-10-2012, 05:44 PM
The Tate Gallery has paid £22,300 for 30 grams of merda d’artista (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/personal-view/3578654/Way-of-the-World.html). The artist, apparently an honest and talented man, canned the stuff and sold it for the price of 30 grams of gold to express his utter disgust with the art world. A couple years later, in 1961, he died of drink. At least half the 90 cans he produced have since exploded, just as the artist intended: “I hope these cans explode in the vitrines of the collectors.” Now the Tate treats it as a masterpiece—again, as the artist expected.

Was the artist right to drink himself to death? Last time we visited the Museum of Modern Art in New York we went through the permanent collections and were struck by the number of pieces that seemed like experiments in technique for some future work that was never produced and never could have been produced. What’s the point? Isn’t it natural that a man with talent would step back from the mess, decide it was stupid and pointless, and (since he had the artistic compulsion) produce something that expressed how stupid and pointless it is? And could not such a work in fact constitute the great artistic work that sums up the spiritual reality of the age? On that view, maybe the Tate paid too little. They should have sold their Turners and put all their assets into the one work that allows us to contemplate perfectly what—it seems—the modern art museum has become: an industrial container for the very thing the Tate just purchased.

--Jim Kalb

IdleRich
23-10-2012, 06:10 PM
Although there seems to be some debate as to whether the cans really contain the advertised goods doesn't there? Just to add another question about authenticity or something to the discussion.

Leo
23-10-2012, 06:15 PM
The Tate Gallery has paid £22,300 for 30 grams of merda d’artista (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/personal-view/3578654/Way-of-the-World.html). The artist, apparently an honest and talented man, canned the stuff and sold it for the price of 30 grams of gold to express his utter disgust with the art world. A couple years later, in 1961, he died of drink. At least half the 90 cans he produced have since exploded, just as the artist intended: “I hope these cans explode in the vitrines of the collectors.” Now the Tate treats it as a masterpiece—again, as the artist expected.

Was the artist right to drink himself to death? Last time we visited the Museum of Modern Art in New York we went through the permanent collections and were struck by the number of pieces that seemed like experiments in technique for some future work that was never produced and never could have been produced. What’s the point? Isn’t it natural that a man with talent would step back from the mess, decide it was stupid and pointless, and (since he had the artistic compulsion) produce something that expressed how stupid and pointless it is? And could not such a work in fact constitute the great artistic work that sums up the spiritual reality of the age? On that view, maybe the Tate paid too little. They should have sold their Turners and put all their assets into the one work that allows us to contemplate perfectly what—it seems—the modern art museum has become: an industrial container for the very thing the Tate just purchased.

--Jim Kalb

i presume you posted this for a laugh, right? basically, he's saying "i don't like it/get it, so it's stupid and pointless. why doesn't the artist make some 'good' art?" by his logic, the guys in basic channel are fucking idiots because they released records that essentially loop the same beat for nine minutes, and andy warhol is a moron because "empire" was a shot of the same building for eight hours.

i may not care for some art, but that doesn't make that work stupid and pointless. err, isn't that a pretty juvenile viewpoint?

Mr. Tea
23-10-2012, 06:21 PM
But that's the same in all fields isn't it? The well-travelled path from nonentity to rebel artist followed by wider success and absorption into the mainstream with all that brings...

True, but some people manage to 'keep it real' a bit better than others. You don't see Chuck D advertising trainers. Genesis P-Orridge was notably absent from the Olympics opening ceremony.

IdleRich
23-10-2012, 06:33 PM
"True, but some people manage to 'keep it real' a bit better than others. You don't see Chuck D advertising trainers. Genesis P-Orridge was notably absent from Olympics opening ceremony."
But to accept the argument that "There is no opposition or agitation in nihilism in the art world" (while suggesting that this is not the case in the world of popular music) you need to demonstrate that all musicians keep it real better than all artists. And also that all artists are fakes from the very start, not just when projected to stratospheric levels of success.
I agree that Hirst is at the centre of the art establishment now but I don't think that's an argument for the utter vacuity of the claims of conceptual art to challenge etc There are plenty of better arguments to that effect.
There's also some debate as to whether Hirst can genuinely claim to make conceptual art.
I reckon Gen would have appeared at the Opening Ceremony if he'd been asked.

Mr. Tea
23-10-2012, 07:01 PM
But to accept the argument that "There is no opposition or agitation in nihilism in the art world" (while suggesting that this is not the case in the world of popular music) you need to demonstrate that all musicians keep it real better than all artists. And also that all artists are fakes from the very start, not just when projected to stratospheric levels of success.
I agree that Hirst is at the centre of the art establishment now but I don't think that's an argument for the utter vacuity of the claims of conceptual art to challenge etc There are plenty of better arguments to that effect.
There's also some debate as to whether Hirst can genuinely claim to make conceptual art.

Well Craner does seem to be disparaging conceptual art generally but he certainly isn't criticizing contemporary artists as a whole, is he? At least I don't think he was. Just the "blatant chancers". Any comment on this, Craner?

Edit: I think part of the problem is that, in representational art, it doesn't take a huge amount of training to be able to tell a good painting or sculpture from a bad one. When you get into impressionism, expressionism, cubism and the various semi-abstract schools of art, it becomes more subjective, and when you're into the realm of the totally abstract it can be very hard to put into words why you think any particular piece succeeds or fails. And conceptual goes beyond even that by abandoning any adherence to the importance of traditional things like material, method or technique.


I reckon Gen would have appeared at the Opening Ceremony if he'd been asked.

That's an entertaining image. Wonder what he'd have got up to...

vimothy
23-10-2012, 08:09 PM
i presume you posted this for a laugh, right? basically, he's saying "i don't like it/get it, so it's stupid and pointless. why doesn't the artist make some 'good' art?" by his logic, the guys in basic channel are fucking idiots because they released records that essentially loop the same beat for nine minutes, and andy warhol is a moron because "empire" was a shot of the same building for eight hours.

i may not care for some art, but that doesn't make that work stupid and pointless. err, isn't that a pretty juvenile viewpoint?

If anything, I interpret it more as saying, "I get it, and it's stupid and pointless, so I don't like it."

Is that a juvenile viewpoint? I don't know. But I could listen to Moritz von Oswald on eterna-loop, so perhaps my judgement is not to be trusted.

I think the important thing is to separate what might be a useful rule of thumb for adolescents, like, "just because you don't like it, doesn't mean that it's stupid," from a critical understanding of culture. As humans, we all want to make sense of the world around us. Part of that understanding is making judgements and trying to reason about why we feel like we do, react to things impulsively or intuitively, and don't like the stuff we don't like.

If things have no meaning in general, then it doesn't matter. Who cares about art? One jumble of materials and techniques is as good as the next. But if things do have meaning, then that meaning can be expressed. Art is part of that.

The Russian formalists had a concept called, "laying bare the device," a mechanism through which the reader could be made aware of the mechanics of storytelling through the story itself. Piero Manzoni expressed his disgust at the art world by shitting into cans. The can of shit says, "this is what I think of you." The Tate, of course, pays £20,000 for it. "A very important purchase." Indeed!

Kalb thinks modern art means something. His feelings are similar to Manzoni's. In the sale of a can of £20,000 shit, we see the art world in a microcosm, a little picture of a part of society eating its own tail, even eating its own shit. A moment that seems to encapsulate some kind of pure self-parody. It's so perfect, it almost seems, to use a cliché, like fiction. And perhaps that, too, means something...

Mr. Tea
23-10-2012, 08:52 PM
If anything, I interpret it more as saying, "I get it, and it's stupid and pointless, so I don't like it."


Yes, it's possible to understand something and still dislike it, of course.

A common criticism of anyone who objects to something one happens to like is "you're just ignorant". Well, maybe - or maybe they understand it very and still don't like it, perhaps dislike it specifically because they have a good understanding of it. So someone might object to, say, the work of Jeff Koons on a purely superficial visual level, or maybe they object to it because they understand intuitively that it's a deliberate distillation of everything that's kitsch, plastic and trite about postmodernity. Then again, quite probably that's exactly the effect he's going for, I mean it's the kind of art that really invites you to hate it, isn't it? So in that sense it's successful as art.

Edit: hahaha...

http://img687.imageshack.us/img687/3023/koonslol.jpg

vimothy
23-10-2012, 09:00 PM
One way that avant garde art works is by exploiting the tension between obeying the rules and subverting them. That can't go forever, though, because at some point, the rules start to lose their authority, and then it's no longer subversive. There's no more tension. It's just something that exists for its own sake, a self-licking ice cream cone.

Mr. Tea
23-10-2012, 09:10 PM
I thought we abandoned "rules" decades ago. If they still exist in some form then what are they, exactly? And if they don't exist then what meaning does "avant-garde" or "transgressive" art have any more?

Mr. Tea
23-10-2012, 09:25 PM
Rule 1: No Mohammed.

That's about it, isn't it?

craner
23-10-2012, 10:38 PM
Whether or not Damien Hirst is a rebel who was embraced by and/or embraced money and mainstream is not exactly the point -- if fact, it is questionable whether he, or his immediate contemporaries, ever were in opposition to anything. They emerged at the inevitable moment when post-modern aesthetics was swallowed whole by neo-liberalism (which made a joke of the junk neo-Marxism that underlay it).

I was pointing to the difference between Fluxus in the ‘70s and the YBAs in the ‘90s -- which is a different world, a separate impulse, morality, and reality. The ‘70s conceptualism, along with preceding and contemporaneous abstractions and diversions, Pop to Land Art and all of that, ended up providing material for a specific and rarefied art market. This was a developing circuit of artists, collectors, dealers, curators, gallery owners, critics, academics, and media producers who established and protected an extensive investment network in the ’80s that worked in compact with an ostensive radical critical discourse. An increasingly important form of merchandise turned out to be a media-packaged "fun nihilism", exemplified in the UK by Goldsmiths alumni and consummated in the Sensations exhibition. This is somehow in a lineage with and yet entirely different to Joseph Beuys and Cindy Sherman, although it is difficult to explain how.

I consider the end point to be Martin Creed (more than Damien Hirst) who produces clean and colourful Fluxuseque ephemera, empty of content or context. He simply lets the critical and commercial apparatus go to work and make money for him. He provides the object and the critics create the concept for him thus providing the conditions for sale. His talent is for making money from an illusion by devising a visual experience to suit a critical discourse. This is the essence of conceptual art now and is a wider condition of contemporary art in general, which must play to and by these rules.

Because this is the relevant stuff: the radical is conceptual, which is the only work worth doing. Innovate and transgress as this is the quickest, clearest way to be taken seriously by serious critics, serious collectors; it is a pass to the big international art fairs and the important downtown galleries. If you are not employing this particular visual and theoretical language you have no place at the Frieze Art Fair, which is where deals and connections make careers. (Careers, rather than bodies of work.)

The work challenges. It suggests. It celebrates. It deconstructs. It encourages unexpected links. It is an exploration. It disrupts and it undermines. It suggests and it investigates. It raises questions. It exposes and it explores. It negotiates and questions. It disrupts and it undermines as it suggests and as it negotiates. It is all about intransitive verbs that make money circulate. The ideas are no longer really there. The visual commitment is merely a game or an unspecified suggestion or an actual evasion. It is all a question of what the work is doing or is said to be doing -- not its meaning, but some alleged and obtuse critique or less direct critical activity. The visual language and media is debased or awash in technology. Fine art has no cultural urgency or function, so is replaced by this illusory circulation of ideas which manages to make money and keep the whole enterprise of galleries, criticism, and dealers going. I would say this is the condition of contemporary art rather than conceptual art, but the more you think about it, the only relevant contemporary art (the stuff that matters, makes the money, keeps the Frieze fallacy in business, say) is the conceptual, and the radically conceptual, at that.

vimothy
23-10-2012, 11:51 PM
Great comments in this thread, Craner.

Where art can possibly go from here seems like something of a conundrum. It can't go backwards, because the old forms no longer have the same meaning. They seem trite and inconsequential. But it can't really go forwards, because it has run out of road. So it just repeats the same loop, over and over, each iteration more pointless than the last, and each more obviously the result of having reached a dead end, aesthetically and intellectually. It's a bit sad, in way.

Leo
24-10-2012, 02:23 AM
Where art can possibly go from here seems like something of a conundrum. It can't go backwards, because the old forms no longer have the same meaning. They seem trite and inconsequential. But it can't really go forwards, because it has run out of road. So it just repeats the same loop, over and over, each iteration more pointless than the last, and each more obviously the result of having reached a dead end, aesthetically and intellectually. It's a bit sad, in way.

at the risk of being the thread's annoying philistine/devil's advocate, i'd venture to say this claim has probably been made at any point in history and in most cases been proven wrong. no one in the past could imagine the new thinking and developments that came years/decades later, and as bankrupt as things might seem now, we have no idea what the future holds.

don't be such a bunch of glass-half-empty types! :)

Mr. Tea
24-10-2012, 02:59 AM
Where art can possibly go from here seems like something of a conundrum. It can't go backwards, because the old forms no longer have the same meaning. They seem trite and inconsequential. But it can't really go forwards, because it has run out of road. So it just repeats the same loop, over and over, each iteration more pointless than the last, and each more obviously the result of having reached a dead end, aesthetically and intellectually. It's a bit sad, in way.

Then why not call time on the whole exhausted enterprise and get back to the things that everyone enjoys and intuitively understands, like games and jokes and stories and music and dancing and sex and food and booze?


at the risk of being the thread's annoying philistine/devil's advocate, i'd venture to say this claim has probably been made at any point in history and in most cases been proven wrong.

It's fallacious to say that just because a certain claim has been made in the past and proven false, it could never be vindicated now or in the future. I mean, people have prophesied the end of the world practically since the beginning of the world, and it while hasn't happened yet it became a terrifyingly real possibility ca. 1960 and remains a plausible scenario.

Is there a potential end point to the number of distinct ideas people can have? It would be nice to think there isn't but can we be sure of that?

IdleRich
24-10-2012, 11:34 AM
This reheated dissensian debate is definitely an example of an endless looping of ideas. Perhaps it could be presented as some kind of artwork and then it really would be eating itself.


"One way that avant garde art works is by exploiting the tension between obeying the rules and subverting them. That can't go forever, though, because at some point, the rules start to lose their authority, and then it's no longer subversive."
Yeah, as Stallabrass said, the rules, despite being broken are conveniently back in place for the next work to break them again.
I broadly agree with what Craner says - the art world is a busted flush and so is the music industry and so on and so forth, and yet, within these dead scenes I still find music or art that grabs me and moves me and makes me want to dance or whatever. Seems to be a contradiction there, as soon as you find something you like there is a natural urge to explain how and why you like it and this almost inevitably leads to one trying to fit it into a theory of art/music in general. But seeing as these all seem so depressing this process tends to either end in failure, or, worse, talk you out of liking the original thing.

IdleRich
24-10-2012, 12:01 PM
As a corollary to the art-world being finished... then maybe outsider art is where true authenticity can flourish. That may or may not be true but outsider art is problematic in that art that is separate from any art world can surely not ever progress and is, almost by definition, a kind of interesting dead-end. And that's not even considering that outsider art has now become a way of packaging hitherto unsellable art together to bring it to the market....

Mr. Tea
24-10-2012, 12:47 PM
Outsider art is certainly interesting but becomes problematic when it becomes an official 'thing'. I mean, you can't deliberately create outsider art, can you? In fact I have a feeling you can't create outsider art if you're even aware of the concept of 'outsider art'. It's an inherently Establishment term.

Mr. Tea
24-10-2012, 01:23 PM
Also, I'm not sure (modern) art and (modern) music are easily and directly comparable, for two reasons.

Firstly, ordinary people consume far more music than they do art. We buy music to listen to at home, in the car, on portable players, we listen for free on Spotify and YouTube, we go to gigs and nightclubs. Sure, we might go to galleries occasionally, perhaps even buy a postcard or a print of one of the pieces, but even if we're talking about public participation with art/music, I should think the average person goes clubbing/gigging or at least puts 50p in a pub jukebox more often than they go to a gallery or art museum.

Second, there's the fact that the Western tradition of secular 'high' art stretches back to, what, the Renaissance? I mean this was around the time that people who were wealthy but weren't part of the higher aristocracy or senior clergy started commissioning and collecting art, wasn't it? Whereas before that, art was generally either monumental or religious, or else was the folk art with which people decorated everyday things. So you have a tradition of an academic high-art establishment stretching back at the very least several hundred years.

Now 'pop music', in the most general sense (meaning rock, reggae, hip-hop, r'n'b, techno, whatever) dates back roughly to the middle of the last century. Sure, before that there was Delta blues and swing and jazz, and the music hall tradition before that and so on and so on, but I think you can date the appearance of 'pop music' as such to the '50s when record players and radios started becoming things that ordinary people, and specifically young people, owned en masse. So there's been somewhat over half a century for people to have crazy new ideas, compared to half a millennium in the high-art tradition.

A further thing that's worth considering is that while there musique concrete around the same time as Duchamp and the dadaists, it certainly wasn't what people were boogying to in dance halls at the time. There's been lots of experimental music since then of course but its mainstream popularity remains low compared to music with a tune, a beat, a verse and a chorus. I suppose an obvious exception would be instrumental dance music that consists of a beat and not much else.

IdleRich
24-10-2012, 02:59 PM
"Outsider art is certainly interesting but becomes problematic when it becomes an official 'thing'. I mean, you can't deliberately create outsider art, can you? In fact I have a feeling you can't create outsider art if you're even aware of the concept of 'outsider art'. It's an inherently Establishment term."
No, you can't deliberately create it but a curator or collector or whatever can gather a load of it together and label it outsider art and use that tag to sell it.

IdleRich
24-10-2012, 03:16 PM
Also, I'm not sure (modern) art and (modern) music are easily and directly comparable, for two reasons.
Firstly, ordinary people consume far more music than they do art. We buy music to listen to at home, in the car, on portable players, we listen for free on Spotify and YouTube, we go to gigs and nightclubs. Sure, we might go to galleries occasionally, perhaps even buy a postcard or a print of one of the pieces, but even if we're talking about public participation with art/music, I should think the average person goes clubbing/gigging or at least puts 50p in a pub jukebox more often than they go to a gallery or art museum.
Second, there's the fact that the Western tradition of secular 'high' art stretches back to, what, the Renaissance? I mean this was around the time that people who were wealthy but weren't part of the higher aristocracy or senior clergy started commissioning and collecting art, wasn't it? Whereas before that, art was generally either monumental or religious, or else was the folk art with which people decorated everyday things. So you have a tradition of an academic high-art establishment stretching back at the very least several hundred years.
Now 'pop music', in the most general sense (meaning rock, reggae, hip-hop, r'n'b, techno, whatever) dates back roughly to the middle of the last century. Sure, before that there was Delta blues and swing and jazz, and the music hall tradition before that and so on and so on, but I think you can date the appearance of 'pop music' as such to the '50s when record players and radios started becoming things that ordinary people, and specifically young people, owned en masse. So there's been somewhat over half a century for people to have crazy new ideas, compared to half a millennium in the high-art tradition.
Yeah, people listen to music more often than they go to art galleries - so what?
And I'd beg to differ in saying that pop music was invented in the fifties. Popular, folk music (as in music of the folk) has been around as long as art has I reckon. But even if it hasn't, again, so what?
Even if, for argument's sake, I accept that music is more popular and newer than art, what's the step from there to demonstrate that they are not parallel traditions which ultimately appear to follow the same trajectory? To me they are both made up of various movements which either claim to be the new thing or have that claim made for them by someone else. Within those movements there are innovators and leaders and hangers on etc Eventually a movement is exhausted and something else comes along and replaces it. At the moment both art and music are subservient to market capitalism and there is a constant tension between artists and movements being "real" and yet meeting the demands of the market enough to get rich (or just eat). In each case you have to exhibit an enormous amount of double-think to claim that Hirst or Lady Gaga is a rebel and yet many do.
Broadly speaking, I think that "the arts" includes art, music, film and literature. There is probably a good reason why these things have always been categorised together.

vimothy
24-10-2012, 04:29 PM
Here’s a way that maybe art and music are alike. Take jazz, for example. In the latter half of the 20th century, Jazz went through a similar process of overthrowing itself. At some point, it got to Ascension and Free Jazz and all that sort of stuff, and what more can you do with that idea really? You'll certainly never have the same impact the second, third, or fourth time around. But you can't go back and play be-bop or whatever either, because now it sounds corny and lame. So you’re stuck.

craner
24-10-2012, 05:07 PM
You can add strings, like Alice.

IdleRich
24-10-2012, 05:11 PM
Exactly. I think this process is repeated to a greater or lesser extent in most/all art-forms. You have a few new paradigms and a few people tinkering with and refining those paradigms... and then what? One chink of light comes from the idea that those new paradigms were impossible to imagine for most people before they had arrived so you can't categorically state that another thing won't come along and redefine everything. But obviously it gets harder and harder to do within a given discipline.
But let me say again that that doesn't mean that it's not possible for individual works or whatever that you enjoy to come along even if you subscribe to this idea.

IdleRich
24-10-2012, 05:16 PM
"You can add strings, like Alice."
That's the tinkering bit isn't it? Not to knock it, I don't think that the most groundbreaking work is often the most enjoyable in a given scene. Stuff that is always trying to move things on misses the chance to consolidate or, more simply, to actually be good.

IdleRich
24-10-2012, 05:17 PM
Another parallel - surely private press records are almost exact analogues for outsider art? Often made by eccentrics and collected by those who want to reject the realities of the mainstream and its canon.

Leo
24-10-2012, 05:37 PM
jerry lee lewis and elvis shocked the world and caused outrage to the status quo. i'll bet few people at the time imagined anyone could possibly take it a step further...and then a couple of decades later, the sex pistols did just that. who's to say what will happen in another 20 years?

vimothy
24-10-2012, 06:32 PM
That's a fair question, Leo. Since nobody knows the future, who's to say that it won't be just like the past?

I guess the worry is that "going one step" further has become an end in itself; that there's no there there any more.

Music and art both became caught up in the great drive to Change the World. People wanted to tear the old order down and art and music were instrumental in that process. This made them seem glamorous and exciting, romantic and relevant; above all, it made them seem important.

The old order is pretty dead by now. That doesn’t mean you can’t dig up its corpse and hang it again, of course, just for old time’s sake. But it does mean that there’s no longer any struggle for art to attach to. It’s not exciting and dangerous, it’s nostalgic. The corpse isn’t fighting back.

Leo
24-10-2012, 06:56 PM
that make sense, vim. maybe i'm just trying to be optimistic. :)

IdleRich
24-10-2012, 07:13 PM
"I guess the worry is that "going one step" further has become an end in itself; that there's no there there any more."
That's what I was trying to say above.


"jerry lee lewis and elvis shocked the world and caused outrage to the status quo. i'll bet few people at the time imagined anyone could possibly take it a step further...and then a couple of decades later, the sex pistols did just that. who's to say what will happen in another 20 years?"
Also what I was trying to say above.

Mr. Tea
24-10-2012, 08:02 PM
Yeah, people listen to music more often than they go to art galleries - so what?

So music has greater mass appeal than visual art. Most popular singers and musicians didn't study music at university. It's not academized in the way that art is.


And I'd beg to differ in saying that pop music was invented in the fifties. Popular, folk music (as in music of the folk) has been around as long as art has I reckon.

Yeah of course, but I specifically meant pop music in the sense of the super-spectrum that derives largely from black American R'n'B and soul music of the 1950s and gave rise, via rock'n'roll, to basically all modern guitar music on one hand, and, via funk and disco, to hip-hop and dance music on the other (with a secondary stream running from reggae and ska through dub and dancehall to hardcore, jungle, grime and so on).

So yeah, there was popular music a hundred, two hundred, however many hundred years ago (as distinct from classical music), but is there really much continuity between what (say) working-class Londoners listened to a century ago and what they listen to now?


But even if it hasn't, again, so what?

Well my very tentative and probably wrong thesis is this: that modern art (be it conceptual or not) is the latest incarnation of a highly academic, Establishment-sponsored tradition of high (as opposed to folk) art that goes back centuries, whereas pop music (in the modern sense) derives largely from various forms that became popular with young people, first in America and later elsewhere, about sixty years ago. So modern visual art has simply had that much longer for people to have ideas.

My other main point is that self-consciously challenging music is not mainstream in the way that self-consciously challenging art is. If you can make a very broad and general equivalence between a pop song you can dance and sing along to and a painting that most people would consider 'nice' then you can make a corresponding one between very 'unmusical' music and very abstruse art. A room with a light turning on and off won the Turner Prize, but Merzbow does not win Grammy Awards.

Dunninger
24-10-2012, 10:33 PM
I don't think you can compare pop music with conceptual art. I'd rather say that contemporary art is much more accepted than its equivalent in music, there are certainly a lot more people walking through Tate Modern, Guggenheim, MOMA etc. than attending Wandelweiser performances. Of course, you still hear the occasional 'my three year old daughter could do that' with modern art, but in general this stuff is a big, fully established segment of the art world. But if you look at most music programming, even the usual new music heavyweights (Stockhausen, Cage etc.) don't appear that often.

IdleRich
24-10-2012, 11:32 PM
Well Ollie (Tea not Craner), I'm not saying that art and (pop)music are identical. I just think that they follow very similar trajectories and ultimately face pretty much the same problems with regard to originality and undergroundness (or authenticity or rebellion or whatever).
It's probably true that art tends to be thought of as more high-brow than pop-music and viewed in a way that is more self-consciously intellectual but that's evident from the start isn't it? If that's your problem with art then I can't argue but I thought you were saying something more than that.

Mr. Tea
24-10-2012, 11:33 PM
I don't think you can compare pop music with conceptual art.

Well I was trying to compare modern music generally with modern art generally - probably not very successfully, but hey.


I'd rather say that contemporary art is much more accepted than its equivalent in music, there are certainly a lot more people walking through Tate Modern, Guggenheim, MOMA etc. than attending Wandelweiser performances. Of course, you still hear the occasional 'my three year old daughter could do that' with modern art, but in general this stuff is a big, fully established segment of the art world. But if you look at most music programming, even the usual new music heavyweights (Stockhausen, Cage etc.) don't appear that often.

Yeah, this is pretty much what I was getting at. Basically, stuff that's conceptual, transgressive or otherwise highly challenging is far more mainstream in modern art than in modern music.

On the point about what constitutes 'transgressive' or 'shocking': yes, Elvis outraged white Middle America but that was because his music and performances were explicitly sexual (and implicitly black, of course) in a very repressed, conservative era; the Sex Pistols upset people because they had songs about anarchy and abortions and spat at their fans and said "fuck" on television. So really those are quite specific ideological reasons why they offended people. They still sang and played instruments, which is how people have made music since the beginning of time. They weren't immersing microphones into pans of boiling water or back-masking recordings of their farts or whatever would be equivalent to modern conceptual art. It was the content rather than the form of the music that shocked. With modern art it's often the form itself.

Also, it seems hard to imagine how performances could possibly be any more transgressive than some of the stuff COUM Transmissions/TG were getting up to in the '70s, or Einsturzende Neubauten's infamous ICA gig in which they made a spirited attempt at destroying the venue as part of the performance. I think an artist tried to recreate that gig a couple of years ago but of course had to tone down a lot of actual destruction. But this kind of stuff is more performance art than it is music, or at least lies on the boundary.

Sex is the big thing that still shocks of course but for how much longer? A lot of videos on MTV are not far off being porn (oh god, now I sound like someone's dad), so while parents and religious people might not like it, it's pretty mainstream in terms of commercial acceptance. In fact it's completely commercial, if you want something to sell you put some T&A in it, don't you?

mistersloane
25-10-2012, 05:27 PM
To talk about Hirst et al as barometers of an art world is like talking about the X Factor as a barometer of the music world - it's true, but, please.

Art is still shocking and provocative -

Pussy Riot, Viona's massive cock

http://youtu.be/MYajNxa_UrU

Brett Murray's 'The Spear'
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/10/south-africas-review-boar_n_1954892.html.

blacktulip
25-10-2012, 08:19 PM
But were you shocked or provoked by either?

Mr. Tea
25-10-2012, 09:20 PM
To talk about Hirst et al as barometers of an art world is like talking about the X Factor as a barometer of the music world - it's true, but, please.

Sure, wasn't trying imply that billionaire YBAs are all there is to contemporary art, though they do seem to represent the logical end point for a certain kind of art.


Art is still shocking and provocative

Yes, it can be, but it's shocking and provocative because it antagonizes a certain regime, isn't it? It's not really that shocking outside of the context of the country and culture it was produced in. In terms of its form, it's still singing and painting. Whereas Duchamp shocked people by suggesting that an upside-down urinal could be considered 'art', and that was nearly 100 years ago. And even before that, people were shocked by impressionism, whereas these days Monet and Degas is the kind of stuff that might adorn place-mats at your gran's house.

mistersloane
25-10-2012, 09:42 PM
But were you shocked or provoked by either?

Course not. I hate art.

blacktulip
25-10-2012, 10:11 PM
Tangentially, I know business-speak has been discussed here off and on... "Blue sky thinking" and all that... but art-speak seems to me to be way more nebulous and Orwellian.

mistersloane is a meta-master of it rather than a victim, but I have one other artist friend who (how to put it?) hasn't been so lucky. I popped into White Cube in HK and had an eye-opening discussion with the staff, in the respect that they all sounded precisely like him. I wish I could spin out examples with the adeptness they demonstrated. I could try perhaps when I'm less tired (just spent the night assembling a couple of hundred CD sets). Essentially the gift is cloaking rather mundane observations in complex-sounding, mostly referential vocabulary.

Does anyone have the dimmest recognition of what I'm talking about?

Leo
25-10-2012, 10:39 PM
ha...yeah, i've experienced that. it's weird, i seem to accept complex art-speak more when it's in print rather than when spoken. people who blab that stuff risk sounding very pretentious.

Mr. Tea
25-10-2012, 10:39 PM
Does anyone have the dimmest recognition of what I'm talking about?

I'd be lying if I said it didn't excite a certain semio-subliminal cortical resonance.

DannyL
25-10-2012, 11:15 PM
Tangentially, I know business-speak has been discussed here off and on... "Blue sky thinking" and all that... but art-speak seems to me to be way more nebulous and Orwellian.

mistersloane is a meta-master of it rather than a victim, but I have one other artist friend who (how to put it?) hasn't been so lucky. I popped into White Cube in HK and had an eye-opening discussion with the staff, in the respect that they all sounded precisely like him. I wish I could spin out examples with the adeptness they demonstrated. I could try perhaps when I'm less tired (just spent the night assembling a couple of hundred CD sets). Essentially the gift is cloaking rather mundane observations in complex-sounding, mostly referential vocabulary.

Does anyone have the dimmest recognition of what I'm talking about?

I've just read the handout for Hannah Sawtell's piece at the Bloomberg Gallery on Finsury Square so, yes. I still liked the piece though- I think it collapses a lot of the divisions between conceptual art and visual beauty discussed in this thread, and says something interesting about late capitialism but BY GOD the blurb is tedious.

mistersloane
26-10-2012, 01:10 AM
Tangentially, I know business-speak has been discussed here off and on... "Blue sky thinking" and all that... but art-speak seems to me to be way more nebulous and Orwellian.

mistersloane is a meta-master of it rather than a victim, but I have one other artist friend who (how to put it?) hasn't been so lucky. I popped into White Cube in HK and had an eye-opening discussion with the staff, in the respect that they all sounded precisely like him. I wish I could spin out examples with the adeptness they demonstrated. I could try perhaps when I'm less tired (just spent the night assembling a couple of hundred CD sets). Essentially the gift is cloaking rather mundane observations in complex-sounding, mostly referential vocabulary.

Does anyone have the dimmest recognition of what I'm talking about?

I think you might be talking about this :

Marvellous Negative Capabilities :

http://vimeo.com/44050003

padraig (u.s.)
26-10-2012, 01:32 PM
there's no there there any more...The old order is pretty dead by now

but the old order never really died so much as it just conceded appearances, a concession which actually strengthened it given the vast amounts of energy diverted into pop culture (and the inevitability of recuperation). also there's still a there, it's just that the bulk of the physical manifestation of there - i.e. where things are actually made - has been moved so that the middle-class consumers who power the engine can't see it (which is now being repeated down the line in, for example, the Chinese textile industry outsourcing low-end production to SE Asia or Bangladesh). granted those consumers are the same people who (have the resources to) produce a majority of art so that POV is over-represented.

labrat
26-10-2012, 02:00 PM
Tangentially, I know business-speak has been discussed here off and on... "Blue sky thinking" and all that... but art-speak seems to me to be way more nebulous and Orwellian.

mistersloane is a meta-master of it rather than a victim, but I have one other artist friend who (how to put it?) hasn't been so lucky. I popped into White Cube in HK and had an eye-opening discussion with the staff, in the respect that they all sounded precisely like him. I wish I could spin out examples with the adeptness they demonstrated. I could try perhaps when I'm less tired (just spent the night assembling a couple of hundred CD sets). Essentially the gift is cloaking rather mundane observations in complex-sounding, mostly referential vocabulary.

Does anyone have the dimmest recognition of what I'm talking about?

http://canopycanopycanopy.com/16/international_art_english

muser
26-10-2012, 02:16 PM
I think hirst's horrible new sculpture thing really shows what terrible artists alot of these people secretly are. Its funny though its vbecome such a big thing in modern art even people making skilled/aesthetically interesting things seem to have to conceptualize what they are doing or add some gimmick, to feel secure scratching the chin too.

Mr. Tea
26-10-2012, 02:40 PM
I have a very old-fashioned and unfashionable regard for technique and virtuosity for its own sake. I like Glenn Brown, I think:

http://images.tate.org.uk/sites/default/files/styles/grid-normal-8-cols/public/images/glenn%20brown%20dark%20angel%20for%20ian%20curtis. jpg http://static.blogo.it/artsblog/GlennBrown.jpg http://www.booooooom.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/artist_glenn_brown_03.jpg

I mean sure, they look kind of like they could be on the cover of a cheesy sci-fi novel, but I think they're very beautiful.

I guess the logical end point of virtuosity for its own sake is photorealism. But I wonder if this isn't almost a kind of conceptual art in itself, despite having the appearance of being the complete opposite? The concept being, here I am using a traditional medium to produce an image which is essentially indistinguishable from a photograph - photography being the technology that kick-started the move away from naturalistic figurative art in the first place?

vimothy
26-10-2012, 03:14 PM
but the old order never really died

Dude, it's dead, kaput, finished, finito--it's stiff, bereft of life, it rests in peace. How do you think you guys ended up at the top of the food chain, anyway--your winning smile? Manifest destiny?

padraig (u.s.)
26-10-2012, 08:46 PM
^we were talking about different things. if you meant order in the literal sense of the pre-WWII order of the world, then yes, that is well and buried (or at least mostly dead, it kind of lingers on as a shambling corpse). when I saw "tear down the old order" I thought modernism, zang tumb tuum and whatever. or a 1968 kind of thing. but the level of cultural production, anyway.

there's a woebot bit I remember where he says Neu (I'm pretty sure it was Neu?) was the final legitimately new thing in rock, after which everything is either imitation, or synthesis (postpunk) or variation (say, grindcore) of something preexisting. I think I'm remembering that right.

padraig (u.s.)
26-10-2012, 08:55 PM
also, I dunno if it's relevant but it made me think of this: "chaos was the law of nature, order was the dream of man", penned by the quintessential yankee aristocrat to express his utter bewilderment at the dawn of modernism. actually I think he wrote it the same year marinetti got into the car accident that birthed futurism.

mistersloane
27-10-2012, 10:58 AM
I guess the logical end point of virtuosity for its own sake is photorealism. But I wonder if this isn't almost a kind of conceptual art in itself, despite having the appearance of being the complete opposite? The concept being, here I am using a traditional medium to produce an image which is essentially indistinguishable from a photograph - photography being the technology that kick-started the move away from naturalistic figurative art in the first place?

Yeah, this kinda why people like/d photorealism. See? You're getting it! Art speak and art language is just like walking through a hall of mirrors, in your head, with words. That's all it is though.

blacktulip
27-10-2012, 12:04 PM
You good people nailed art speak.

One more thing: this book covers many of the area's contradictions and peculiarities and, in fact, did so when most of them emerged way back when. It appears prophetic now since a lot of these concerns have made an impact on the popular consciousness in the past couple decades. It's a really, really great read. Sorry if it's obvious to you folks.

http://www.amazon.com/Art-Worlds-Anniversary-Updated-Expanded/dp/0520256360

mistersloane
29-10-2012, 02:03 PM
Dave Hickey don't like it :

http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2012/oct/28/art-critic-dave-hickey-quits-art-world

IdleRich
29-10-2012, 02:38 PM
But that's the art-world in general and the effect it has on the work that's produced isn't it? I mean, he's not saying he hates conceptual art, just that big-money leads to conservatism in all kinds of art. Which is right I'm sure.

mistersloane
29-10-2012, 02:54 PM
But that's the art-world in general and the effect it has on the work that's produced isn't it? I mean, he's not saying he hates conceptual art, just that big-money leads to conservatism in all kinds of art. Which is right I'm sure.

Yeah. I actually thought I'd written "Dave Hickey has had it" but my mind musta been elsewhere. Weird.

Nice article I thought.

blacktulip
29-10-2012, 02:55 PM
I have only one more thing to say about conceptual art; I fucking love Chris Burden and particularly everything he did in the 1970s.

IdleRich
29-10-2012, 04:12 PM
Yeah. I actually thought I'd written "Dave Hickey has had it" but my mind musta been elsewhere. Weird.
Nice article I thought.
Yes. And loads of comments too unfortunately. I have a real problem with stopping myself reading comments, does anyone else get that, it's probably the sort of thing The Wire will identify as a modern disease?

Mr. Tea
29-10-2012, 09:16 PM
See? You're getting it!

Heh, there's hope for me yet, in other words?

Mr. Tea
29-10-2012, 09:19 PM
I bet someone's done this years ago, but I'd love to mount a tobacco pipe on a little plinth with a label on it saying Ceci est vraiment une pipe.

you
02-11-2012, 07:25 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yea4qSJMx4&feature=relmfu

http://vimeo.com/17431354

Leo
05-11-2012, 10:14 PM
...and is the "concept" still valid if it's all washed away?

http://www.vulture.com/2012/11/jerry-saltz-devastating-visit-to-chelsea-galleries.html

luka
06-11-2012, 08:07 PM
craner having a lucid moment is always a joy. when the clouds of madness part and the light shines through. the rest of you come across as quite thick im afraid.

vimothy
07-11-2012, 12:48 PM
Cut it out, Craner, you're making the rest of us look bad!

baboon2004
07-11-2012, 03:00 PM
I bet someone's done this years ago, but I'd love to mount a tobacco pipe on a little plinth with a label on it saying Ceci est vraiment une pipe.

The double entendre here could give you other options as to what to place on the plinth.

Mr. Tea
07-11-2012, 04:39 PM
The double entendre here could give you other options as to what to place on the plinth.

Yes, and it would be a good way to judge how much smutty French slang the viewers know.

baboon2004
07-11-2012, 04:58 PM
exactly! And what purer purpose could there be?

woops
11-11-2012, 05:04 PM
Fools! 'Mount' is not a French word.

rewch
13-11-2012, 02:23 AM
.

Mr. Tea
13-11-2012, 02:38 AM
Yeah, Jeff Koons kinda pisses me off too.

craner
13-06-2014, 11:46 AM
I am deeply indebted to the person who pointed me towards this superb 1999 Art Review essay by Brian Ashbee (http://www.ipod.org.uk/reality/art_bollocks.asp), which gleefully attacks the aesthetics and rhetorical tactis of Art Review itself and says a lot (if not quite everything) that needs to be said about contemporary art. What's amazing is that, in the 15 years since this was written, absolutely nothing has changed.

Mr. Tea
13-06-2014, 02:39 PM
I am deeply indebted to the person who pointed me towards this superb 1999 Art Review essay by Brian Ashbee (http://www.ipod.org.uk/reality/art_bollocks.asp), which gleefully attacks the aesthetics and rhetorical tactis of Art Review itself and says a lot (if not quite everything) that needs to be said about contemporary art. What's amazing is that, in the 15 years since this was written, absolutely nothing has changed.

Some great stuff there. I particularly liked:


"X's work
{wryly/mockingly/cunningly/innocently/intelligently}
{deconstructs/subverts/disrupts/parodies/appropriates/undermines}
{popular notions/stereotypes/archetypes/conventions/the mythology/strategies}
of
{gender/representation/style/sexuality/commodification/identity}
by ..."

It's the same interchangeable, meaningless cant I talked about in my first post, along with the obligatory laughable pretentions to being somehow radical or subversive in a school of art that's been the Official Art of the cultural and academic (and, by extension, financial/commercial) Establishment for the last half-century or so.

craner
13-06-2014, 02:45 PM
Exactly.

Timewriter
14-07-2014, 10:32 AM
Thank you all for entertaining me during a quiet spell in the office.

craner
17-07-2014, 08:48 PM
Pleasure.

craner
21-09-2015, 01:41 PM
What artists do is throw things together and hope that some curatorial genius will apply meaning. If you wiped away all the curators, the art world would be in total disarray because no one would know what to say or think.

RIP Brian Sewell