• Noble Dust
    3.5k
    I think it's best to get the bullshit out of the way: I hate the artists's statement. It feels like kindergarden show and tell. If a work of art I make requires an explanation, then it's not worthy of anyone's time. The work should speak for itself; essentially, what the philosophical issue is here is that art should express itself on it's own terms. I should not have to write a short essay that logically defines what my intuitive mind threw up on the page. Real art is vomit. If you want to enjoy art, you need to be able to enjoy vomit.

    So what's the counter argument? Do artist statements help the audience situate what they're experiencing? Is this situating important/necessary? Why? If not, then why?

    What would an artists statement about a poem or a story look like? A prelude to a prelude? How does language play a role, if at all? Lots of options, here.
  • Brett
    1.9k


    Agree 100%.

    Edit: artist statements are an academic notion.
  • Brett
    1.9k


    Though the statement is an integral part of the work because that’s how the work was constructed.
  • Noble Dust
    3.5k
    Edit: artist statements are an academic notion.Brett

    Sure, but they are also provided at art museums, and at musical performances. They exist beyond academia; they exist in the artistic wild.
  • Brett
    1.9k


    I think it’s become a style of sorts. It’s like all exhibitions have a title. Academia has totally influenced things, because so many artists come through uni., as do the curators, etc.

    Edit: it’s packaging.
  • Noble Dust
    3.5k


    I don't mind a good title; hell, I love a good title to a novel. But what I'm against is when the artist tells me what their work means. Stop being so precious and precocious. Let your work breath.
  • Brett
    1.9k


    I’m 100% in agreement with you remember. These people don’t have much of an imagination, they’re not really spontaneously creative. They have to construct a work of art from a “concept”. Then they have to explain it because only they know what it’s about. That becomes standard practice once you leave uni.
  • Brett
    1.9k


    Actually let’s say the artist statement justifies the work itself.
  • Noble Dust
    3.5k


    Hmmm, defend yourself.
  • Noble Dust
    3.5k


    The idea that "the artist statement justifies the work itself".
  • Brett
    1.9k


    Do you mean explain it? Because “defend yourself” sounds like you disagree.

    What I mean is that they use the artist statement to justify a work that has very little substance.
  • Noble Dust
    3.5k


    By "defend yourself" I was signaling that I didn't outright agree, but also didn't outright disagree.

    What I mean is that they use the artist statement to justify a work that has very little substance.Brett

    I agree.
  • unenlightened
    4.2k
    I hate the artists's statement.Noble Dust

    Isn't that an artist's statement?
  • Brett
    1.9k


    Isn't that an artist's statement?unenlightened

    Most definitely.
  • Noble Dust
    3.5k


    No, it's not. Demonstrate how I'm wrong.
  • unenlightened
    4.2k
    Well "Art should speak for itself" certainly seems like an ideological/philosophical position that an artist might take or might not take. Your post could be made by an artist as a statement of their position, even if as it happens, you are not an artist, whatever one of those is. "Shut up and look" is a perfectly reasonable attitude to take when your contemplation is being interrupted, but as an op is smacks of performative contradiction, because you are yourself breaking the silence.
  • Noble Dust
    3.5k
    but as an op is smacks of performative contradiction, because you are yourself breaking the silence.unenlightened

    What?
  • Coben
    1.3k
    I think this is a part of a trend towards an aesthetic of ideas. We are suppossed to primarily and often only think when we look at art, rather than also have sensuous facets. A lot of art that is modern or postmodern and then also not so good in terms of the visual experience, but may or may not be interesting in the thinking it provokes. I think this has been a sick trend. I do like many modern and postmodern works of art, but what has happened, it seems to me, is that instead of some of the extremely ugly, abstract versions of this being a contrast or having been made, still, by someone who has skills in design, composition and color (even if these are not used in more tradictional ways) we have people who want to express ideas. Shit, they should write little essays, instead. And I can't stress enough that there are installations and very abstract works and performance art and mroe that I have enjoyed and been impressed by, but this area has now become the center of many galleries and museums. The problem is that much of the earlier versions of this work had power because the contrasted with expectations. They did make us see things differently. They stood in contrast to works with more sensuous qualities. Now they are just to be taken in and of themselves, and most of them cannot bear that weight. They are visually uninteresting, but may or may not be clever mental exercises. It's like every writer decided to write novels in the style Finnegans Wake. Or some minimalist novelist who writes without characters at all. What worked as single experiments by incredibly talented people has now become the mainstream.

    And of course they can't help but want to add words to tell you what to think, since they don't have the skills or sensuous aspects in their work to make it a full experience.

    They have to give you more thoughts.

    I have no rule against artists' statements. I am sure they can work quite well in some circumstances. But the culture of them, I think, is part of this trend toward making people think rather than having a complex sensory experience AND think, after that, and then after the next look and contemplation.
  • Coben
    1.3k
    He's making a statement about art and how it is presented. The OP is not a work of art with an explanation attached. Those explanations, the artists' statements are next to and about specific works of art. He is doing nothing of the kind.

    He is not saying that one should not think about art, he is suggesting something about the act of an artist placing what the work means next to it. It happens to some degree in novels, though extremely rarely. And it is also part of a new trend. It may or may not be a good thing. It may be a symptom.

    But his act in the OP has is not in any way parallel to an artist telling us what his or her art means. The OP writer is not presenting us with a work of art.
  • unenlightened
    4.2k
    So I can talk about art as long as I am not talking about my own art, or as long as I am not presenting art, or something? Seems a bit arbitrary.

    I would have thought that the problem is not that the artist says something about their work, but that the work is not worth talking about. There's a lot of that about I will grant you. Naming no bananas.
  • StreetlightX
    4.7k
    Ah. Policing art in the name of not letting art be policed. Very good.
  • Coben
    1.3k
    ↪Coben So I can talk about art as long as I am not talking about my own art, or as long as I am not presenting art, or something? Seems a bit arbitrary.unenlightened

    You're treating this like legislation. ('can talk about art') I see the discussion as raising the issue of whether it is a good thing or not.

    And also, his OP is NOT him presenting his art by saying what it means. That's not an arbritrary distinction, that is central. His op is in no way telling me what any specific work of art or show means.
    I would have thought that the problem is not that the artist says something about their work, but that the work is not worth talking aboutunenlightened

    To me most works that I love stand on their own. I can spend time with the work as a sensous experience, and then if it is representational, I can mull over the meanings. I think if someone feels the need to explain what is going on in their art, at the place where the art is shown, they don't really trust their artwork. I don't have a rule. I certainly wouldn't come close to banning it or even think of the idea. But the more it happens the more I think it's likely the piece of art itself is missing something.

    Of course there could be mixed medium works with words and painting, say. So, yes, there is no clear line. But the more someone tells me what their work means, the less I think they trust it and the less likely, I think, I am going to enjoy their work on several levels. I think it is more likely their work will only make me think. And I think then it is likely that they are not working in the best medium.

    I wouldn't want to listen to a piece of music that had a narrator telling me what the song was about. I'd be happy to have lyrics that in themselves are works of art, part of the art, and inside it, and likely in the best art not telling me what the music means, but in creative tension with the music that is also telling me what the words mean.

    If I put on a song and it started with a voiceover saying 'in this next piece I will be dealing with male authority figures, using my own father as a metaphor for government....' or whatever, I would be irritated. I can read interviews with the artist, later. And heck, why doesn't the artist trust me to find their work powerful with being told it's secrets.

    Further artists are not necessarily the best judges of their art, though they may be about their intentions.

    To me it's a symptom. Of course they should be allowed to do it. But I think the more it is done, the weaker the art is and the less confidence the artists have in their work, and further, I think, the less actual love of their medium. They don't trust the medium. So, sure, an artist's statement doesn't mean that the painting next to it is any less great, though I think, actually, it might diminish the experience of people who read the statement before having spent some serious time with the painting. The meaning gets narrowed down to whatever the artist is conscious of and we would, in general, I think, 'see' the meaning we are told is there. My sense is that the feeling one should have an artist statement next to one's art is a symptom of something that will also show up in less interesting art work. And I see this specifically with the mass of abstract modern and postmodern art. See, my earlier long response to the OP for what I mean there and also to see I do love, in fact, many examples of both modern and postmodern art. I just think it opened the doors to people who think art is about verbal thinking in the main, and we have lost something.
  • unenlightened
    4.2k
    You're treating this like legislation.Coben

    I don't like to do things people hate, if possible. But of all the problems with the sort of conceptual art that seems to do the circuit of European public galleries, the labels seem the least offensive to me. If the art is good, who cares about the labels? And if the art is bad, who cares about the labels?
  • Lif3r
    306
    I like to include insight with art because I am also a writer. Often times the words that go with the piece are completely unrelated. I don't care.
  • Lif3r
    306
    If you don't want my word vomit to go with my physical vomit then don't buy it and move along.
  • Lif3r
    306
    Or hell buy the arr and give me back the word vomit. Make your own meanings regardless of mine. If you can't do that then why are you buying art?
  • Coben
    1.3k
    And if the art is bad, who cares about the labels?unenlightened
    The art is often bad and I think part of the problem is that people think the verbal thinking aspects of the art are enough. It is a symptom, but also like the phrase 'do over' in a game of chess or something. If you are thinking any move you make can be taken back by calling out this phrase, you will not put as much effort into that move you are going to have to live with. If you think you can make your work meaningful by telling people what to think, you are not going to focus as much on the non-thinky parts of the art. In general. I am sure some do. See, something you know you can or will do in the future can affect what you do now, while making the art and while conceiving of what makes it powerful or beautiful or great.

    This works in other ways. Who cares if your golf or tennis follow through is right, if you hit the ball well, you hit the ball well.

    Well, if you are not intending to make that follow through what comes before that absent follow through will not be as good.


    If the art is good, who cares about the labels?unenlightened
    If the art is good, the artist saying the meaning can and I think will in most cases detract from the art, since it will be seen through a narrower lens. I also think that it is part of the same wave as the NOT paying attention to the sensuous values. If people did not think they were going to make their art work through explaining what it means, they might realize they need to make powerful art in and of itself, and this power will include things that are not related to verbal thinking.

    I made these points already and I don't think you addressed them. You're deciding to simply repeat your position, despite the fact that I actually did respond to it, and to not respond to me did give me a chance to reformulate, but hey...why not respond as if I actually said something?

    I'll wait for others to chime in. (and yes, my posts were long. I am not expecting you to respond at length or to all my points. But you responded by simply repeating yourself as if I had said nothing.
  • unenlightened
    4.2k
    If the art is good, the artist saying the meaning can and I think will in most cases detract from the art, since it will be seen through a narrower lens.Coben

    I have a neat solution to this; look first, read afterwards if you like what you see. Perhaps the artist is also interesting when he writes and perhaps not.

    If people did not think they were going to make their art work through explaining what it means, they might realize they need to make powerful art in and of itself, and this power will include things that are not related to verbal thinking.Coben

    I suspect it is usually the other way about. That one cannot get one's work taken seriously by the gatekeepers of the establishment unless one has a good line of bullshit. And this is the problem, not what the artist says but that they cannot make art that will be exhibited without saying something 'conceptual'. Curators give the bullshit all the importance because they have no 'ground' by which to measure value otherwise.

    I suspect we more or less agree about this, you me and the op, but it really isn't the bullshit that's the problem, it's taking the bullshit seriously. And that comes from the gatekeepers of the art establishment who naturally value what they do most highly.
  • frank
    4.3k
    A Leonora Carrington artist's statement:

    "Neo-proletariat politics based on the ever inflating ethics of anarcho-organized government, a system of circular dissentation to promote the growth of rice mutations within the arctic circle. A question of well-planned drainage from Gleneagles golf course to South Chile only to enter the hole of the poles with Stratoproads from recent outerspacial recent artifacts.

    "That the general public are now adequately informed on the simple but arduous projection of the Artist from the humid warmth of genealogical gestation to the dizzy freezing point of oil paint on canvas in well established Morphology going from one vicissitude to numberless combinations of zoological color gnodes to ambivalent orquestration of strangely timed psyclograms deftly intershot with sparrowhawks pressed into the tablets of concentrated malice only to explode here and there with the soundless perversity of zero sirns in an incalculable gesture of suspended astonishment."
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