Monday, January 07, 2008

contemporary art: idea over process

An article in the Boston Globe yesterday discussed the current situation of art nowadays and how the idea is much more important than the process of art-making. Since the "invention" of conceptual art, art became more object and product oriented. Everything was based on a philosophical stance or explanation. This is what Tom Wolfe also called "tenure art" during his closing speech at the 10th year anniversary of the Derriere Guard.

It's true that I find it disappointing to attend a gallery/museum show or exhibit and know that the large drawing on the wall is some concept thought about the "artist" and the idea was executed by "assistants" who are really gallery employees. Many painters still practice this way of working in their studios and workshops, such as Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst. They instruct and provide directions while younger artists who are trying to make their own art but need to pay the bills execute the work. As the article mentions, Rubens and I believe, Raphael, had their studios full of assistants helping them execute their work. I don't agree that the artist's hand should be removed from the process and though the modern world may justify the practicality in having your assistants transfer a drawing for you, or trace a "reproduction" of your work, providing an idea to museums with instructions on how to build the art object is going too far.

What does the audience feel? Do they feel fooled? However, many collectors buy into it and money talks. As an artist, especially since my focus in on representative art, studying technique of draftsmanship based on 19th Century ateliers, I find the trend disturbing. Have we reached the point of no return? I think there is a place for everything, but after leaving the world of installation art to concentrate on painting and painting really well, I wonder where this will all lead to. I love contemporary images and pictures, but when do we rebel and define our limits? Does technique still have a place in the contemporary art world or will it forever be seen as passé?