The loneliness and the controversy of working in and with art.
…technique is like ten per cent
Working with something creative means developing original ideas and using your imagination, which is something almost everyone does today, e.g. in engineering and design of cars and gardens and so on. Being creative is a part of being an artist, as well as it is for designers, engineers and businesspeople. But when it comes to working with art, someone once said to me: ”…technique is like ten per cent, the rest is you” No one tells you what to do in fine art, you have to think for yourself and that is the tough part, as we sadly see evidence of too often in the art world (Marina Abramovic said in an interview, quoting a former teacher,”…in your lifetime you will probably have one good idea if you´re really good artist – if you´re genius two good ideas…”).
There are no rules and as Jesper Rasmussen, principal for the Jyske Kunstakademi, writes in his text to the Danish minister of culture, Marianne Jelved, art students are taught to work with something nobody asks them to do. Imagine standing with no real tools but yourself and no one, who will be a 100% able to tell you: ”good work!”. Because you don´t need a certificate to gain approval, unlike e.g. architects, and despite your degree in Fine Art, anybody can claim you´re a fake.
The same old question
Today increasingly more artists graduate from various art academies throughout Europe. There is a broad aspect of fine art, but art academies are trying to teach artists a responsibility and an awareness of why they do the art they do. There´s many definitions of what art is, and the question is a bit weary to discuss. The question of what is and what is not art, is to some extent relevant when you work with it (”is this a performance or is it a yoga exercise?”), but there are so many different answers and no definite answer, so one should not get too hung up on this question. The loneliness comes with the existential part of being human, increased with dealing with the controversial art world (to mention but a few topics: the art market, the difference between craftmanship and fine art etc.).
They know the price of it, but not the value*
Furthermore it seems like people generally has a hard time distinguishing between groundbreaking artists and the work of great PR (trying to tell you that a certain artist is groundbreaking). With good PR and friends in the right places you can achieve anything, not to mention being at the right place, at the right time, in the right social mood (and many other components!).
Now, more than ever, money is easy to access (especially with the right kind of network) since there are fundings to seek help from and unnamed private persons with ridiculous amounts of ”value”. Much art is generated and the art market is overflowed by the right names, e.g. was the public recently presented to a painting of a one dollar bill to a value of $26m at Sotheby´s (by Andy Warhol). Former outsiders, like street artists Shepard Fairey and Banksy are being hauled into contemporary galleries. Everybody can ”become” an artist without education, while hardly anyone would call oneself solicitor without some level of education.
The art market and its workers seems not to be too interested in the emotional or intellectual value of art. Auctioneers at auction halls excitingly deliver tales of record-breaking prices. Known names like Francis Bacon and Tracy Emin are thrown at us with exclamations of how they, like no one before them, captured the true pain in humanity or some similar impressive expression – all this to increase the ”value”. Monet was a skilled artist, no doubt, but the media fuzz about his, until now, undiscovered small painting, makes Monet seem like the missing link to the discovery of the cure of some deadly illness. Art is truly important for society and the well-being of the human soul in most of its forms and -ismes, but the talk about it surely drives people crazy in its vagueness and fakeness. It´s hard to find a proper dictionary-definition of art, so don´t let anybody fool you with their ”knowledge ”.
Things to enlighten your view on art and the use of it all (well maybe not, but at least it tried to):
– A little short animated video about art with the philosopher Alain de Botton: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/video/2014/sep/10/what-is-art-for-alain-de-botton-guide-video
– Why we need art academies (in Danish): http://politiken.dk/debat/kroniken/ECE2602647/jelved-ved-ikke-hvorfor-vi-har-kunstakademier/
Credits to Anna Vibe for making the drawing for the essay.