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  #1  
Old 03-21-2003, 10:36 PM
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fritchie fritchie is offline
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Lightbulb Is art really representative of our time?

A second idea expressed by redrajah and Jarrod is that work should relate to its time and place, but this concept often is misunderstood in reference to both the past and the present. What we know about Classical Greek art, for example, is what has survived for about 2500 years. Mostly the large pieces are marble, though a handful are bronze. It has to be assumed both that these pieces represent what commissions of the time rewarded, and that they simply have withstood the vicissitudes of 2.5 millennia. Bronzes, for example, may have been melted into weapons or other tools, and many of the marbles have lost extremities.

We often forget the first part of what I just said - “these pieces represent what commissions of the time rewarded” - and say that what we (the artists expressing opinion)s do or want to do represents our time and place. Certainly that is what I say and what I try to do, but in fact the marketplace determines what gets put into the public treasury and is preserved. Most artists lament the poor choices of the marketplace, and I share this feeling to some degree also, though I feel rewarded by the reception I have received.

I believe that what all thinking artists do is hope that our work will receive a good reception, and proceed to do what we genuinely want to do anyway, with little concern for how it is in fact received, except for the obvious proposition that we may run out of resources if the work is too expensive and difficult to continue its production.
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Old 04-11-2003, 01:20 PM
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Victoria Victoria is offline
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Red face Is art really representative of our time?

Is art really representative of our time?
I answer this question with another question and that is; "what is art?"
If we could answer the question "what is art" with collective agreement, we would have the answer to many questions including the first one; "Is art really representative of our time?"
More to my point today though, is: "what the hell are they thinking?" Not the artists, the call for artists people (but yes, some of us artists too). I am so tired of entering competitions where specific instructions are given, and then the art that is chosen has absolutely zip to do with the original instructions.
On top of that. So many calls for artists expect the artist to spend time and money on specific requests without any remuneration whatsoever. On top of that, there is an entry fee!!! And some of us are stupid enough to comply.


But "is art really representative of our time?" If we answer calls for artists and our works are chosen according to the prescription, then perhaps yes, art is really representative of our time. I see us not necessarily as artists in these submissions but rather as accomplished artisans.

My thoughts on "what is art?"
Art is the work of the artist much the same way as banking is the work of an accountant or architecture the work of an Architect etc., etc.. Human beings each bring something different to the equasion. Artists are merely part of the collective scheme to represent humanity. When I was younger I wanted my place as an artist, to shake the conscience of a nation. In the end I realized it was my conscience that got the shaking. These days I concentrate on doing the best job possible regardless of it's importance to others. And while I still care about the human condition, I am more focused trying to pay the rent with my artistic talents than I am screaming "foul play!"
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  #3  
Old 04-13-2003, 12:44 PM
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cheers frichie,
your point is well taken. certainly every civilization has produced great works of art beyond the few that have endured the trials of time and besides those that were championed by their local patrons. just as today there are many great works that will remain in obscurity, lost to fashion and fragile environments, governments, wars and manic depression. this doesn't discount those that do make it nor does it make them less representative of their time.

all of our work represents our time, some perhaps more universally than others, but it is the only time we know. we are being moved by events in our lives, by what we think and how we feel. these are real things happening in real time and if we aren't representing them and responding to them, well then what are we doing?

and whether our work sells or not is simply a reflection of that particular committee or that particular commission or that gallery or that buyer or that friend. nothing more, nothing less. our concern is the work itself and to keep making it better than the last time. if they don't like it you find someone that does. too often unselected artists make the mistake of thinking themselves more enlightened than the selection committees.
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Old 04-14-2003, 11:43 PM
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I'm interested in two threads you've started, this one and 'art contrast with craft" but I thought the question is 'art respresentative of our times?' What does that have to do with whether it sells or not? I guess you're all saying that if it sells, it will last, and that's how we'll be remembered.

So much art I see these days is just the same thing done over and over. So many artists are really stuck in old mediums, old ideas. The world changes so fast these days (whether that's good or bad, I don't know, depends on which side of the bed I got up) but it seems like on the highway of life, art took the outer road. Maybe that's good i.e. "view from the outside" or maybe that's bad i.e. "you're really out of it!"

Of course there is a lot of good stuff too. But I guess that's the way of the world, there will always be good and bad, and what's thought good now will be bad in say about 20 years, then good in 40, then bad, then REALLY good in about 200 years.

I agree that artists have to pay bills, and I think the art world is really screwed up and makes it hard for artists to do this. I can't think of any other profession where people get more criticized if they happen to make some money, as "sold out--too commercial, etc."

I know it's not always true, but in the fine art world, there seems to be a kind of snobbery that puts down crafts - and yet when you ask the question "how are people remembered?" it is true that a civilization is remembered for its high end crafts just as strong or stronger than as it's bronzes or marbles (of course many cultures don't even have such things.) I find as much delight in crafts as the art of the personality of a community as I find in the art of the ego of one intellect.
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Old 04-24-2003, 10:37 PM
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This is so true. Are we all inspired by the cryptic signs of these times? We don't craft beautiful objects for living with anymore...we consume crap - (unless we can afford otherwise.)
To simply make beautifully crafted and functional objects for the sake of the moment is not profitable, but it is still a perfectly valuable human activity.
I persist in my craft, but luckily for me I have the odd patron to ease things a bit when the hand doesn't quite reach the mouth.
What I find a bit sad is that some people just assume there is no truth, no beauty, no originality anymore. Everybody has to make a living even if they don't really know what living is. Also, being a poor but passionate artist is contemporarily out of fashion. I feel priveliged to finally get away with it here in Byron where the snob factor is genuinely laughable.
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  #6  
Old 04-26-2003, 06:09 AM
gordonrogers gordonrogers is offline
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our time isn't now

Historians will decide later what is or isn't significant about now. As a student I found a skip outside a library full of 'Studio International' magazines going back to the late fifties. I've still got them and its interesting comparing the artists who are now becoming 'art history' with those that arn't. Looking at the journals o f the day, theres little to distinguish them. But history relys on a logical, linear progression - x influenced y leading to z. Your name goes in the history books usually on the strength of just one or two works that can be used to illustrate a point retrospectively.

So some people and some artworks are remembered, but simply as points a journey which in reality isn't happening.

Its interesting to see that more stone statues survive from ancient Greece, than bronze, perhaps the key to becoming history is to make art with a low scrap value.

How odd to be remembered and cherished for all the wrong reasons. We all have an electric element in the rear window of our cars, the guy who invented the technology had been trying to make fish fingers that would cook themselves.
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Old 04-26-2003, 10:24 AM
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Re: our time isn't now

Quote:
Originally posted by gordonrogers
How odd to be remembered and cherished for all the wrong reasons. We all have an electric element in the rear window of our cars, the guy who invented the technology had been trying to make fish fingers that would cook themselves.
too funny!

"Throughout his long prolific career, Calder produced more than16, 000 works, at an average of one work a day for fifty years. The quality of his work was consistent, always imbued with a joy, pleasure and a child like quality. His work never became banal or sentimental. Calder died in 1976, a few weeks after a retrospective at the Whitney Museum."
borrowed from articons

too inspiring!
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Old 05-01-2003, 03:48 PM
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The "problem" is neither the question nor the answer...don't forget that! For all this perpetual turmoil over a yes, a no or any other way to address the issue here, is draining our energy for nothing really! It matters for each one of us to "know" what is "right". maybe this is a professional biais that has infiltrated our way of doing things, our way of seeing, understanding...whatever. The reality stands still and finally the answer is our reflection. Yet and to avoid confusion, one must keep focusing on a choice that is: to do one's work or to debate over the landscape...It's all about what one choses.
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Old 05-10-2003, 12:10 AM
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Cool Time and energy wasted??

Sidney - I appreciate your reflection “For all this perpetual turmoil over a yes, a no or any other way to address the issue here, is draining our energy, ...........”.

I suspect that each of us, in the quiet of the night, or sometime other, asks just why we are making sculpture. Part of the reason, surely, is to offer ideas to others down the road, even if the name on the sculpture, like some in museums, might be “Master of the ....”, with our actual name lost.

And we constantly hear the admonition, “Make work which is of your time.” I posed some of the difficulties exactly to let people evaluate the meaning of this phrase, and a proper response.

I like the comments here, and hope to hear more.
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Old 05-12-2003, 06:47 PM
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To make art that represents our time...... I think we are ahead of ourselves in this question. Our time has not yet happened. Our time is not one person's life time, but a cumilation and overlapping of centuries. Of course we are producing "in" our time but to stand back before we complete it is like seeing the fired piece before the clay is pulled from the lake. This answer cannot be answered in your lifetime.

Just a thought
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Old 05-12-2003, 10:11 PM
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The future is our judge

Aurora - You’re right, of course, but we hear this phrase, “Make art which is of your time!” repeatedly, and each of us needs a personal reaction to it. I guess I have formulated the thought that I do just what I think is best, and I have to leave any reaction to the future, just as you say. Thanks for this additional insight.
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Old 05-12-2003, 11:48 PM
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Perhaps I don't move in the proper circles, but I have never been admonished to "make art that is of your time." In fact, that thought never even occurs to me. I think it is inevitable that "my time" will influence my work to some degree.

But I do doubt whether the singular vision we have of past periods is factually accurate. Some things are remembered, some are forgotten, but mostly I think our human urge to impart form is at work in how we regard history. Those works which do not fit the accepted story are left out and relationships are blurred to make movements more coherent. It is entirely possible that there is as much creativity involved in defining the times as there was involved in creating the works of those times. I actually tend to have more sympathy for works that were not "of thier times." Perhaps they were even ahead of their time.

Bottom line, make your work and let the critics sort it out. They are bound to mess it up anyway, and there is nothing you can do about it.

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Old 05-14-2003, 03:14 PM
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I have always wondered what the "art of your time" comment really means outside an art history perspective. I think that critcs edit the art that gets included much like the victor writes history. And yet I don't know how to sculpt anything that isn't directly about my place in my world at this very moment. So I discard the question and consider it irrelevant until I pick up a magazine and wonder why people are sculpting images outside their own culture in a realistic manor without even a hint of commentary or question, usually my response to some of the American Indian pieces. Perhaps the past in some way still exists in the present for these artists? Personally I am motivated by the possibility of a new view of the world and I need that drive to get me through the many hours of welding and grinding.
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Old 05-14-2003, 06:59 PM
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I suspect the art of our time is some mysterious thing set out by the administrators and lawyers that control the public funds of major museums and galleries.

... and would require a 10,000 word thesis to pretend to explain.
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Old 05-14-2003, 09:40 PM
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Ideas of our time?

Bettye - It is exactly the ideas I think lie behind your comment, “I discard the question and consider it irrelevant until I pick up a magazine and wonder why people are sculpting images outside their own culture in a realistic manor without even a hint of commentary or question, usually my response to some of the American Indian pieces”, which led me to post this question in the first place. I work in a figurative mode, and in a sense am on the receiving end of that sort of perhaps unintended criticism.

It seems to me that”art of our time” commonly is assumed to consist of welded or otherwise assembled forms but not of forms which are developed freely from nothing, either by modeling (“building-up” from scratch) or by chiseling (“subtracting” by removal from a larger solid, the original meaning of the word sculpt).

I’ve been thinking for a couple of days about a new thread called something like “ideas of our time” which would examine the role of these age-old sculpting techniques, put to use expressing contemporary ideas. It seems to me that ideas, and not techniques, should define “sculpture of our time” so far as anyone outside of later art history can do so.

Enjoyed your comment, and I hope to see those images onboard soon!

Last edited by fritchie : 05-14-2003 at 09:45 PM.
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Old 05-15-2003, 05:22 PM
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Araich

I am intrigued by your 10,000 word (pretended) thesis. Maybe you could start a thread on the subject of corporate control over the arts. I think it is well worth looking into.
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Old 05-16-2003, 05:59 PM
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a lump of clay in my hands and the right day and i'm off, and everything makes sense and i am dead thrilled to be a part of it and i am humbled by it's beauty. and i do aspire to make art of my time every single day i do. and i hope to affect people with my work right now. it is amongst my greatest ambitions. our time defines itself and we as artists simply make record of it.
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Old 05-18-2003, 05:07 PM
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Fritchie-
I think my distaste was more firmly rooted in the cross cultural than figurative. Since I've already put my foot in my mouth I will be blunt. I don't understand why Anglo people are sculpting American Indians in historical costumes. I conclude that it is market driven until I run across a piece that is vital and arresting and it discounts my theory. Further investigation usually reveals an artists living with the tribe and sculpting the neighbors. So I wonder if it passion for the subject that makes the connection.

As long as we live in our bodies, how can figurative sculpture be not of our time?
You made refernce to a prejudice about medium. I see this a lot in my part of the country, but I think I see a different phenomena than you implied. I see that bronze is king and stone (the harder the better) is for the sculptor's sculptor. Welded work is more often relagated to craft, particularly if it is representational. I personally feel that medium is such an intimate connection between the artist and the work, that only the end result should be judged. So the prejudice in the market and museum confuses me. Am I niave or uminformed, or worse, both?
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Old 05-18-2003, 09:45 PM
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Different perspective on medium

Bettye - I'm completely sympathetic with all of your points, but my recent posts might not show that. Also, I think you raise many deep points, which were alluded to in the first two posts between you and Randy. If you can review posts from about 2 months ago, you will see that I said nearly the same thing about the apparent market orientation of American Western art.

One of your points I find revealing is our different perspective on market forces. I think you are quite right that the Western region favors bronze and stone, but my impression has been that the national market favors constructed pieces, mostly welded and non-figurative.

On your question, “As long as we live in our bodies, how can figurative sculpture be not of our time?”, the answer partly is in the American Native and Cowboy sculptures you describe. Many artists, not only sculptors, find it easier to work in a proven mode than to take chances doing fresh things. Obviously, you are doing your own work, with a fresh, personal viewpoint, so this doesn’t apply to you.

I hope you won’t be offended if I refer to another of your points: “I personally feel that medium is such an intimate connection between the artist and the work, that only the end result should be judged.” This is a very complicated idea, so let me give some of my reactions, for others’ comment as well as yours.

The medium largely defines what is possible. Stone, for example, is hard to work, heavy and difficult to move, and fragile with respect to gravity - it breaks easily if unsupported. Bronze and clay share some traits with stone, in that both can be put into essentially any shape, and both are relatively strong and permanent, more resistant to damage than stone.

Steel and other materials which commonly are used today in fabrication are at the highest end of the spectrum in strength, but limit the sculptor severely in what can be made. You, for instance, work with steel to make figurative pieces. To do that (I assume - I do hope to see your actual images as soon as you can get them up), you fill the piece with empty space, constructing something which probably is fairly impressionistic. (I consider Impressionism one of the best movements in painting, so take this as approval, not criticism.)

You may actually be quite realistic in your sculptures, but the medium of welded metal limits the degree of realism.
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