• Wheatley
    650
    Art is a human expression which functions creatively/via the intuition.Noble Dust
    Give me time to digest that.
  • Wheatley
    650
    @Noble Dust

    I'm struggling with the "functions creatively" part.

    Art is human creative expression. How's that?
  • Noble Dust
    3.5k


    Like I said, I don't want to get into a debate about what art is; that's not what this thread is about. If we seem to disagree about the definition...well, there we are. Which cycles back to what you initially said...it's ok to disagree...

    But, I put together that definition on the fly in as succinct a way as I thought made sense. Art is...an...expression. But uniquely human. Does it have a function? It seems that it does: it functions creatively; another way to say that is that it functions via the intuition. Or, in other words, the human faculty for expression requires creativity. Art is the product of that process.
  • Wheatley
    650
    Like I said, I don't want to get into a debate about what art is; that's not what this thread is about. If we seem to disagree about the definition...well, there we are. Which cycles back to what you initially said...it's ok to disagree...Noble Dust
    Oh, well. It's not that important anyways. Artists are going to continue writing statements, whether you like it or not. :wink:
  • Noble Dust
    3.5k


    Indeed; we (artists) will continue to write them, and I will continue to rage against the writing of them.
  • unenlightened
    4.2k
    But the 'artist's statement' has to be understood as the specific thing it is.csalisbury

    Yes, I thought I had conceded the point, but yes i pushed that line further than was justifiable. I fear that art has become a religion along with football and so on. Reciting the creed is more important that following the teaching.
  • StreetlightX
    4.7k
    A work of art 'speaks for itself'...

    Because art communicates via it's own inherent medium.Noble Dust

    I do not understand what this is supposed to mean, nor how it provides a reason for the former. At best, it seems tautologous - does it say anything other than 'art speaks for itself because it speaks for itself?' - but I can't be sure of even that.

    But generally, good art should evoke interpretation, not require explanation. Does that make sense? No?Noble Dust

    But why a disjunction between interpretation and explanation in the first place? Why one or the other? Why even these terms and not others? I'm not taking sides here: I just don't see that there's a genuine debate to be had in these terms to begin here. And even if I were to take sides - why shouldn't some 'good art' require explanation, especially when that explanation is willingly provided? Why not draw connections, why not expand the imagination even more, why not multiply the points of reference? Why this pious insistence on closing art down because - what? It's a very strange gatekeeping, a kind of priestly instance.

    This metaphor simply indicates that art is not primarily apprehended theoretically.Noble Dust

    Who are you to say how art is 'primarily apprehended'? Is this your artists' statement? And why should anyone give a fig about that?

    I'm still waiting for your argument in favor of artist statements.Noble Dust

    I'm don't have an 'argument in favour of artist statements' in general. I'm not particularly 'for' them. I'm simply not against being against them on, as far as I can see, utter spurious grounds. Some artists statements are good, some are terrible. But I'm not here to play art police and specify what ought to be the case in advance.
  • csalisbury
    2.1k
    Ok, so I am on board with an artist saying , if they want : 'I was thinking about this, and this, and here's what I made.' If they want to do that, that's fine. But I think a charitable reading of the OP suggests they're probably talking about how, with physical art, it's become de rigeur. One is expected to have an artist's statement. The response in the op is a response to that state of affairs. (for the sake of discussion, tho, lets pretend the op is suggesting banning artist statements; let's both agree we disagree with that; and then tackle things from there.)

    Presumably, all of the points you've made throughout this thread would apply just as well to poetry or film. But those don't usualy have artist statements. Why? If it boils down to excess upon excess, then why aren't poets explaining their works through image, or film-makers through poetry?

    Of course, I'm ok with them doing that if they want. In fact there's even a word for this kind of thing : multimedia art. But it would be disingenuous not to notice that the above examples feel intuitively different then artwork + artist statement. Most artworks are not considered multimedia projects because they have a prose artist-statement attached. Again, why is that? (But that's the point - we all already know why. We already know that the artist statement isn't the same sort of thing as an artist adding another layer in another medium)

    If we ingenuously follow this thread, we're lead to the fact that the artist statement is not simply an additional multimedia aspect, but something essentially gallery and market-facing. Again, we need to be empirical here. Are we talking about artist statements as they actually function, or are we talking about an abstract idea of 'the artist statement' as it can be slotted into a pre-existing complex of thought involving identity, purity etc.

    ---
    I adore Benjamin (the guy who attempted the Arcade Project, who was meticulously devoted to seeing things precisely, as they're situated in their precise historical setting) but I think his concept of Aura is decidedly the wrong way into this. That's a confusion of levels. I can expand, if you like
  • Brett
    1.9k


    Are we talking about artist statements as they actually function,csalisbury

    I don’t think it has a function for the viewer. It doesn’t help except add another patina to the intellectual or concept level. I do think it’s a curator/ gallery thing. How to write an artists statement is part of the visual arts units at uni. I don’t think things would be any worse or confusing without them. It’s almost like the artists/curators/gallery owners/critics are talking to each other, which is fine I guess, if that’s how they want it, to exist on another level besides the art itself and the audience.
  • StreetlightX
    4.7k
    If we ingenuously follow this thread, we're lead to the fact that the artist statement is not simply an additional multimedia aspect, but something, essentially gallery and market-facing. Again, we need to be empirical here. Are we talking about artist statements as they actually function, or are we talking about an abstract idea of 'the artist statement' as it can be slotted into a pre-existing complex of thought involving identity, purity etc.csalisbury

    I think I mostly agree with this, but here's the case I want to make: in gallery conditions, where the artwork is already so alienated and displaced from the lifeworld - where its aura is already diminished - the statement can function in a compensatory register; it is a reactive effort to give something of what has already been lost.

    The other option - call it the revolutionary option to my reformist one - is to refuse to play the game and say: here's the artwork, in this cold space, take or it leave it: if its aura is missing, thats your(?) problem, these are the conditions under which art is exhibited now, so this is what you get. A kind of identification with alienation ('accelerationist'?). And yeah sure, you can do this, but how effective is this going to be, really?

    So I am trying to be historical-empirical here: this isn't just some abstract-theoretical argument in favour of multimedia experience, but really looking at how the artist statement functions in the conditions of alienated art. I see it as potentially offering a small window into an outside that no longer exists, a tiny effort at reclamation. The artist statement as the union and the dole, if I can make that comparison.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6.6k
    Edit: artist statements are an academic notion.Brett

    It's simple, it picks out an obvious theme, and it usually tries to relate the artwork to the child in some manner. It's not altogether different from - as the OP put it - a kindergarten show and tell.StreetlightX

    I think this is right, the statements are meant to educate. There is a wide variety of reasons for the statements, whether it's to introduce children to what the artist is doing, or to explain to a wider audience, why the artist is doing it. The artist might even be trying to reach a wider audience through the medium of education.


    If you think it's cheesy, then ignore the statements. Or better yet ignore the art which includes statements altogether. Isn't that what we normally do with art that we dislike?
  • csalisbury
    2.1k
    I think I mostly agree with this, but here's the case I want to make: in gallery conditions, where the artwork is already so alienated and displaced from the lifeworld - where its aura is already diminished - the statement can function in a compensatory register; it is a reactive effort to give something of what has already been lost.

    The other option - call it the revolutionary option to my reformist one - is to refuse to play the game and say: here's the artwork, in this cold space, take or it leave it: if its aura is missing, thats your(?) problem, these are the conditions under which art is exhibited now, so this is what you get. A kind of identification with alienation ('accelerationist'?). And yeah sure, you can do this, but how effective is this going to be, really?

    So I am trying to be historical-empirical here: this isn't just some abstract-theoretical argument in favour of multimedia experience, but really looking at how the artist statement functions in the conditions of alienated art. I see it as potentially offering a small window into an outside that no longer exists, a tiny effort at reclamation. The artist statement as the union and the dole, if I can make that comparison.
    StreetlightX

    But that seems even less likely to be effective then the 'accelerationist' option to which you oppose it (and there are definitely more options then lifeworld-accelerationist gallery warehouse - artists statement!)

    So, I understand your argument, like I think it's conceptually well-formed. I just don't think it seems to reflect what's actually going on? If the artist's statement is primarily a marketing tool - something most artists experience and approach the way the rest of us approach putting together a CV -but a pecuilar marketing tool in that, for it function, it has to pretend to be something it's not - then what I think you've produced is a an artist's statement about artist statements. It fits in with an extra-artistic discourse, but in a way that seems aimed at satisfying the demands of that discourse, so everything fits in to place. It reminds me a bit of Zizek's anecdote about being on some kind of panel show and talking about the frame of the frame (or something) and becoming despirited (he claims) when the other panelists didn't realize he was handwaving.

    The question isn't: Can we conceptualize the artist's statement as a stopgap which seeks to compensate, however meagerly, for the artwork's alienation from its lifeworld? Because we can, of course.

    I think a better question would be : how do artists understand the artist's statement? How do they approach it? What use do artists put it to? How do dealers understand the artist's statement. What use do they put it to. How do curators? Critics? and so forth.

    Anecdotally : Almost without exception, all the professional artists I've known do not like the artist's statement - they see it as something like a CV - and it's the type of thing they mock endlessly when 'off the clock.'

    So I am trying to be historical-empirical here: this isn't just some abstract-theoretical argument in favour of multimedia experience, but really looking at how the artist statement functions in the conditions of alienated art. — streetlight

    When you say 'really looking at how they function', what do you mean by really looking?
  • StreetlightX
    4.7k
    how do artists understand the artist's statement? How do they approach it? What use do artists put it to? How do dealers understand the artist's statement. What use do they put it to. How do curators? Critics? and so forth.csalisbury

    I think these are fair questions. I do think they are overdetermined though, by a focus on mandatory artist statements, which is not something I'm at all in favour of. I agree that's shit, and it's awful that they've become, as you've said de rigueur. But I also want to hold out for their value, and especially against the idea - most prominently argued in the OP - that the statement in someway compromises some imagined purity of the artwork in it's experiential capital-P Presence. My problem being more directly about the principle than than the conclusion, as it were.

    I'm also not arguing that artists statements' are 'effective' in the 'accelerationist' sense of breaking the mold of the art industry or whatever. I don't think they even try to! They are quite clearly tailored, sociologically speaking, for that industry. But they don't have to be that. That's why I like the kids' statements and why I reckon they're a model for what an artists' statement should be like. If you want a 'revolution' in the experience of art you're certainly going to have to look beyond the form and content of artists statements - a relatively meagre and trivial thing, all things considered.

    I also like their pedagogic element. I'm no art expert. I like having certain things drawn to my attention that I might not have otherwise thought of. Sometimes, a great deal of the time, the statements are silly and can detract rather than add to the artwork. But again they don't have to be! I've definitely learnt to see or feel or listen or think differently as the result of some, and maybe that makes me some kind of phillistine, but then, fuck any elitism that expects everyone to 'get it' on the strength of their own art-analytic powers. That's what informed by charge of elitism too. There's a great deal of political nievity (at best) or simple class contempt (at worst) in the argument that art simply ought to stand on its own.

    (Which is not an argument that all art should aspire to pedagogic transparency, or to pedagogy at all. Just as it should not be required that all art should have artists' statements, there should equally be a space for art to be challengingly opaque and 'difficult'. It's just that the one should not rule the other out. But I think there's something to be said about aspiring, however minimally, to a democratic culture of art appreciation, of which artist statements, when done well, can contribute to).
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6.6k
    I think a better question would be : how do artists understand the artist's statement? How do they approach it? What use do artists put it to? How do dealers understand the artist's statement. What use do they put it to. How do curators? Critics? and so forth.csalisbury

    Don't forget, the artist is a cunning creature, sly as a fox. With the growth in media, public critics abound, and they may seize the artist, interrogating with questions of what does this mean, what does that mean, sometimes to the point of harassment, because these critics haven't the confidence, or capacity, to produce an authentic interpretation. I think the artists have simply developed a preemptive strike to fend off the critics. It's a prepared response to the critics.
  • csalisbury
    2.1k
    :up: I think we're converging on a mostly shared middleground.
  • matt
    138
    Whats wrong with the artist's statement if it provides a little context?
  • Congau
    89
    If you are a visual artist, a painter or an installation artist, you have presumably chosen that profession because you have something to tell the world that can only be expressed in the particular language of your art form. If your message could have been articulated using words from the spoken language, there would be no reason for you to dabble in visual art. In that case you should be a writer instead since after all, a natural language like English, however fallible, is the most efficient way to communicate thoughts from one person to the next.

    True art can’t be translated from one form to the other. The purpose is to communicate ideas that can only be transferred in this particular way. This particular hue of red gives me a certain feeling and I want to try to convey that feeling to you: naturally I show you that color, I don’t try to explain it in words.

    If an artist’s statement is needed, it means that work of art is uncapable of fulfilling its purpose of communicating the intended idea, and consequently it is worthless.

    (A written interpretation is something different. It’s not a part of the work and the artist himself is not necessarily the best interpreter.)
  • Punshhh
    1.3k
    If an artist’s statement is needed, it means that work of art is uncapable of fulfilling its purpose of communicating the intended idea, and consequently it is worthless.
    I think this is to simplistic, some works of art are carried out, or conceived of by the artist which are not evident in the finished work. There is a case, especially if the artist wishes it to be so, for some kind of explanation.

    This is a work I produced a while back, I won't give an artist's statement at this stage, but I might later on to qualify the work.
    IMG-9035.jpg
    What as a viewer do you see (as a work of art)?
  • Punshhh
    1.3k

    As I see it the artist's statement became mendacious with the advent of conceptual art. There was a point where artists were presenting poor artworks and then propped them up with a lengthy ambiguous concept which they used to justify and qualify the piece. I experienced such artists being cross examined by critics, who were attempting to defeat the attempt to qualify the piece. It left me with a bitter taste in the mouth and I disregarded the piece out of hand. I don't think I am alone in this.
  • Congau
    89

    I could try to interpret the work but whether I’m able to do it well or poorly is not the point. I’m sure you could do it better, being intimately acquainted with it, and since you are probably an articulate person, I don’t doubt that you could do it better than other artists interpreting their work. But even though you yourself is the artist in this case, that is no guarantee that you could produce a better and more truthful interpretation than any other critic. In fact, being the artist doesn’t give you any special interpretive authority. What if you told me that the painting depicted the war in Syria. Maybe you had that in mind while painting it, maybe it inspired you, but so what. It’s not there for any other viewer and including such a statement as a part of the art work would be nonsense. (Although it would be interesting to know what inspired the artist.)

    Your painting is not in need of a statement to be a work of art. I was saying that if a work can’t exist without an artist’s statement, it’s worthless. A painting speaks the language of paint and if a written word must be included to give it meaning, it’s not a painting.

    PS: I like your painting
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6.6k
    But even though you yourself is the artist in this case, that is no guarantee that you could produce a better and more truthful interpretation than any other critic. In fact, being the artist doesn’t give you any special interpretive authority.Congau

    The author has no interpretive authority? Isn't that kind of contradictory?
  • Punshhh
    1.3k
    I wasn't trying to catch you out, that would fall into the category of artists and critics trying to defeat each other's arguments about the merits and meaning of the artwork.

    I'm simply pointing out that you can't remove the artist from their work entirely, and that if the artist thinks that a statement of some kind is required to appreciate the work, then that is valid, a valid aspect of the work.

    This is entirely different from the contortions of a conceptual artist trying to legitimise the work they have produced in an atmosphere of conceptually validated works. Or a sterile establishment comment by a critic.
  • Noah Te Stroete
    2.6k
    My whole life is a tortured, beautiful piece of art. My making (with God’s canvas and medium).
  • Punshhh
    1.3k
    Is it a Dali, a Toulouse Lautrec, or a Picasso?
  • Noah Te Stroete
    2.6k
    A Pollack? It’s a mess, but you can still pick out some form here and there.
  • Punshhh
    1.3k
    Then a Kandinsky, or a Miro? (I won't mention Escher)
  • Noah Te Stroete
    2.6k
    Not sure. I never studied much art history, though I took three years of art in high school and a painting course at Loyola.
  • Punshhh
    1.3k
    Just a bit of fun, I think you would look like a Miro myself.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6.6k
    I won't mention EscherPunshhh

    My life's an Escher.
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