Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Good art / bad art - let's talk quality!

Shared on a private artist list, this article from the FT - Beyond the Froth and Jargon - got me thinking. (and nodding in agreement)

I've always wondered why so much art in the big galleries is unfathomable. Yet when I'm drawn to modern or contemporary work it can be new and different and daring but still be, dare I say it, visually interesting. (which can mean beautiful or shocking, either end of the spectrum) A painting can move me, without needing an explanation with it or the artist's contextual history.

So my question is... why can't we talk about quality? Putting aside the commercial argumentthat there is a market for pretty much anything (which I do agree with) does that mean we as individual art consumers have to accept everything on some greater authority's say-so?

On the level of an individual artist - why do we shy away from just being honest with artists, and ourselves? Why not just say sometimes - "that's a bad piece"?

With social norms insisting "everything is art" - how many of us really believe that privately? Do we just nod along because we're in public? Is there a new sort of political correctness that says creativity is always good? (in the professional realm: galleries, exhibiting artists, museums, art sales sites)

Do we help our fellow artists by not ever giving a qualitative judgement?

Are we helped as artists if we never get brutally honest feedback?

What if our work really is bad and spending time improving our skills would help far more than pat-on-the-back comments?

See the coast paintings


Steve Kohr Fine Art said...

Tina - I see this a lot on wetcanvas with the critiques, where there is way more 'hey, that looks nice', or 'good job with the sky' type of comments as opposed to constructive criticism. These 'positive' comments are beneficial, but it seems most people want to offer encouragement rather than constructive criticism - and I'll be the first to admit to that!


shaving mirrors said...
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cathsheard said...

There *is* bad art and we should be able to say so. Bad, as in nothing to say, and bad due to poor quality. I don't believe the "I have a message so you have to accept my shoddy work practices" is okay. If I buy a painting I expect it to last.

I agree with Steve that places like WetCanvas can be very "that's lovely" without offering real critique and think it shows in our society in other ways. Think of the *terrible* singers on programs such as America's Got Talent - clearly no one has ever said: hey, I love you, but seriously? You can't sing. Yet it would have been doing them a favour before they performed on national tv.

Not sure how we change it though ;-)

Tina Mammoser said...

Glad to see at least a few comments. :) I would say that I'm not out to hurt anyone, really I'm not, and it's all about constructive criticism - if I criticise I try to follow up with an action that can be taken, and point out something good.

Cath I with you on practical quality too. There would be exceptions - if the message is incredible. But that is, and I'd say probably always has been, an extremely rare thing. Most of us are putting our own spin on old messages. But if something like Picasso's Guernica or the Mona Lisa was done with poster paint it would be acceptable. They broke new boundaries.

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