Richard Bledsoe “Beekeeper” acrylic on canvas 24″ x 20″
“The busy bee has no time for sorrow.”
See ART QUOTES: Do The Work, Part 1 Here
See ART QUOTES: Do The Work, Part 2 Here
William Blake “The Song of Los”
To create a little flower is the labour of ages.
John Singer Sargent, “Carolus-Duran”
Mine is the horny hand of toil.
-John Singer Sargent
Fernando Botero “The Family”
My work is a self-portrait of my mind, a prism of my convictions.
Georges Braque “Atelier VIII”
One day I noticed that I could go on working my art motif no matter what the weather might be. I no longer needed the sun, for I took my light everywhere with me.
Odilon Redon, “The Cyclops”
The good work proceeds with tenacity, intention, without interruption, with an equal measure of passion and reason and it must surpass that goal the artist has set for himself.
William Blake “Centaur”
“I was walking among the fires of Hell, delighted with the enjoyments of Genius; which to Angels look like torment and insanity.”
-William Blake ( born November 28, 1757)
I don’t believe the stars control our fates, or can be used to tell our fortunes. But life has proven to me again and again the time of year a person is born does seem to influence their personalities.
Why would this be the case? I have no idea. But my observations show me the universe is full of patterns, cycles, all evidence of the great underlying order beyond our limited human perceptions. The pseudo-science of astrology is the result of centuries of study on human behavior. Somehow we find echos of our souls projected out into a cosmic scale; around and around we all go, playing our variations of the 12 eternal roles manifested in symbols of animals, mythical beasts, and human archetypes.
We are now in the time of Sagittarius (November 22 -December 21). They are symbolized by the centaur archer, a summation of their temperament: always galloping around excitedly, while innocently shooting off arrows of tactless commentary.
Can you see the Sagittarius personality reflected in the work and words of these artists?
Walt Disney and friends
“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”-Walt Disney (born December 5, 1901).
Edvard Munch “Four Stages in Life”“My whole life has been spent walking by the side of a bottomless chasm, jumping from stone to stone. Sometimes I try to leave my narrow path and join the swirling mainstream of life, but I always find myself drawn inexorably back towards the chasm’s edge, and there I shall walk until the day I finally fall into the abyss.”-Edvard Munch (born December 12, 1863)..
“My life has no purpose, no direction, no aim, no meaning, and yet I’m happy. I can’t figure it out. What am I doing right?”-Charles Shulz (born November 26, 1922)..
“The true work of art is born from the Artist: a mysterious, enigmatic, and mystical creation. It detaches itself from him, it acquires an autonomous life, becomes a personality, an independent subject, animated with a spiritual breath, the living subject of a real existence of being.”-Wassily Kandinsky (born December 16, 1866)
Alfred Barr, Jr.
Director of New York City’s Museum of Modern Art 1929-1943
Lots of people say they don’t appreciate Modern Art. The term is used as a kind of generic catchall description, often a term of derision for the hokum perpetrated by the out of touch creative class of visual artists.
Technically though, when people refer to Modern Art, they are talking about something that is already in the past.
Modern Art was the future that ended.
For centuries in the western world, art followed predictable formulas, and only changed slowly. Artists focused on creating variations of Classical art, inspired by the masterpieces of ancient Greece, Rome, and the Renaissance.
There was broad consensus on what made for quality art. Order, beauty, and flawless adherence to approved techniques were desirable traits. Support for artworks came from powerful institutional patrons: the church, the state, and the aristocracy. These factions had much to gain from promoting stability and the status quo.
Sometimes an isolated eccentric would create art of a different kind, and challenge expectations. The artistic and cultural establishment of the times reacted harshly to such experimentation. William Blake was called mad, and worked in near total obscurity on his visionary books. J.M.W. Turner faced criticism and ridicule as his landscapes became more atmospheric and abstract. Francisco Goya kept his powerful and morbid black paintings hidden away from his employers at the royal court.
Despite these occasional flare ups from forward thinking radicals, for centuries the art world was a model of social control. Creatives were dominated by the elite. Training and opportunities for artists were under monopolistic control. It’s not that different in today’s commercialized fine art market. Advancement requires conformity to the self-aggrandizement and conceits of the ruling class.
But by the middle of the 1800s, the traditional dynamics changed. Life started moving faster than the establishment could react. The long standing pattern of gradual cultural evolution done in the service of the powerful underwent massive disruptions.
The Modern Age was upon us.
There’s no clear cut definition of the time the Modern Era covered. I define the era of Modern Art as running almost 100 years, bracketed by two art shows: the Salon des Refusés in Paris 1863, to the first major Pop Art show held in New York in 1962. The roots run deeper, and the influence lingers longer, but this is a useful measure for when Modern ideas were the most important in the culture.
Before the Modern age, the conventional understanding was art should present beauty, which represents truth. In modern art, beauty was no longer the highest aspiration, because it symbolized a kind of order and redemptive quality intellectuals had lost faith in.
Modern age rationalism and materialism compels that everything needs to be dissected and analyzed. Artists brought this mentality into art, and manifested this questioning both thematically and visually.
As the Modern age unfolded, the ideas imposed by social changes seemed to demand artists abandon art’s enduring function as a tool for bringing harmony and unity into the lives of humanity. A sense of doubt became a standard starting point.
No longer did art look to provide the comforting experience of the beautiful. Modern art featured probing and often critical ideas about the nature of art, perception, humanity, and the values we so often fail to live up to. Pessimism was a safe attitude, depicted with ugliness.
Modern art took on an unstable aspect as artists looked to find something to effectively replace the sense of meaning and purpose that had informed the art of the past. The creative class tried to define possible alternatives, angling for personal advantage and prestige. Theories abounded.
Modernism fragmented into competing movements, schools, and influences. With all the possibilities swirling around, artists were not sure what or who to believe in. In rapid succession, the art world moved through major phases: Impressionism, Post Impressionism, Symbolism, Fauvism, Expressionism, Abstraction, Cubism, Futurism, Suprematism, Constructivism,. De Stijl, Dada, Surrealism, and Abstract Expressionism. Artists built entire careers based on the nuances of these experiments.
Modern art can be observed as a series of trends proposed as solutions to the void introduced into heart of art-and by extension, life itself. Nothing seemed to work for long.
This lead to a terrible burnout, and what we have now: the sophistry, shallowness and will to power of the Post Modern age. But even this horror is coming to an end. We are at the beginning of a new era. Welcome to the Remodern Age. We integrate the fragmentation of the Moderns back into a holistic approach, art as a tool for communion and connection once again.
Max Beckmann “Perseus”
“All important things in art have always originated from the deepest feeling about the mystery of Being.”
Carl Jung “Solar Barge”
“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside awakens.”
Philip Guston “Painters Forms”
image by Scott Adams
BEING SMOTHERED IN THEIR OWN TANGLED WEBS: BBC News Roger Scruton’s “How Modern Art Became Trapped by its Urge to Shock”
Key quote from the article, a summary of how the contemporary art world conspires to inflate inferior productions and specious reputations:
“Originality requires learning, hard work, the mastery of a medium and – most of all – the refined sensibility and openness to experience that have suffering and solitude as their normal cost.
“To gain the status of an original artist is therefore not easy. But in a society where art is revered as the highest cultural achievement, the rewards are enormous. Hence there is a motive to fake it. Artists and critics get together in order to take themselves in, the artists posing as the originators of astonishing breakthroughs, the critics posing as the penetrating judges of the true avant-garde.
“In this way Duchamp’s famous urinal became a kind of paradigm for modern artists. This is how it is done, the critics said. Take an idea, put it on display, call it art and brazen it out. The trick was repeated with Andy Warhol’s Brillo boxes, and then later with the pickled sharks and cows of Damien Hirst. In each case the critics have gathered like clucking hens around the new and inscrutable egg, and the fake is projected to the public with all the apparatus required for its acceptance as the real thing.”
Roger Scruton, the author of the article, is described as a philosopher, so perhaps he is a little more charitably nuanced than I’m inclined to be. He makes a distinction between fakes and lies, the difference being that fakes involve self-deceit, the perpetrators at least somewhat believing in their own falsity.
The destructive outcomes of such practices make me less interested in the subtle psychological machinations underlying the con artists of the contemporary creative class. It’s their results that matter, and they are creating by their consensus a world of garbage that undermines not only the culture industries, but society as a whole.
William Blake, one of the greatest artists of all time, understood the connection. “The foundation of empire is art and science remove them or degrade them and the empire is no more — empire follows art and not vice versa as Englishmen suppose.” Empire in this sense doesn’t refer to a specific form of government but more so a culture, the authority of a way of thought, a sense of shared values. Our post modern friends would refer to this as a hegemony.
But to post moderns nothing is true, everything is relative. They are victims of a kind of magical thinking, believing their attitudes, opinions and theories can alter reality. Presto, this awkwardly stuffed shark is now expensive art!
Most people see the lie in this, and scoff, or just turn away. The self-proclaimed cultural elites reassure each other that anyone who doesn’t buy into their shtick is an inferior who can be safely disregarded.
Only a prosperous and secure society could afford to coddle such a misguided and decadent educated class. But we’re arriving at the point such parasites are killing the host, and destroying the prosperity and security that made their silly mindset possible. The relativistic and deconstructive practices of post modern thought now infects our media, education, and government, and are eroding the functionality and foundations of civilization itself.
Just like the artists did, the wannabe ruling class is putting up ridiculous notions, calling them real, and trying to brazen it out. In each case they can rely on the clucking hens of the arts, academia, and the media to project the fraud at the public with all their might.
Scruton might soften these affronts with some credit for the self-delusion of the participants, but I’m not inclined to. The motivation for these assaults on enduring principles is the effort to gather unaccountable power into the hands of a few, and no good can come from such efforts.
The art world is just displaying symptoms of a vast corruption festering in our culture that must be confronted.