Art for money’s sake

I blame two things for the current state of modern art: the camera and the denigration of faith. When art was both the sole way to record this life and the most reverent way to pay homage to faith and the after life, artists brought their best efforts to play, and both buyers and viewers had appropriately high expectations.

When art lost its two raisons d’être, artists were reduced to producing decorations or to claiming that they offer the great unwashed some “deeper” meaning and insights through their “creative” efforts. Some are really trying; others are pretentious boors; and still others are scammers, pure and simple.

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  • Danny Lemieux

    I would blame it on one more factor: public subsidization – both of “art” and of artist wannabees with no talent to offer.

    The artistic greats had to earn their commissions through proven talent. Many, like the impressionists,  toiled for years in poverty to gain respect.

    By contrast, today’s entitled and subsidized artists feel that their lifestyle is owed, rather than earned.

  • Leah

    Art reflects the soul of a society – regardless of the tools used. Art has often been used to glorify – either God or history – it never intended to be an accurate portrayal  of reality.
    The good art today is either in product design or the crafts – ‘art’ simply means ugly angry and anti establishment.

  • Charles Martel

    “A bag of rubbish that was part of a Tate Britain work of art has been accidentally thrown away by a cleaner. The bag filled with discarded paper and cardboard was part of a work by Gustav Metzger, said to demonstrate the “finite existence” of art.” (Emphasis mine.)
    Exactly! A kudos for the cleaning lady.

  • suek

    Hah! My fortune is made…

    We have about 6 ft of spontaneous fantastic artwork out in the garage. At one time, my husband considered it a work bench, but these days, it just seems to collect “concepts”…


    We have about 6 ft of spontaneous fantastic artwork out in the garage.
    Ahem….garage you say. No. No. It’s a  gallery. Just post a sign “les bois” with a hefty price tag and voila – you, too, can be in the art business.

  • JKB

    You remember the poor dear with her MFA and lots of debt?  Well, if she gets a job in her field, this is what we get.  It is true though, “public art” funding has a lot to do with this garbage.   Otherwise, they’d at least have to appeal to the 1% to get this funded.  

    But let’s not overlook the grand performance art going on right now.  In cities across the country, the world even, we are privileged to see a live dramatization of ‘Animal Farm’.  pjmedia…131094/


    Chris Ofili, an artist who creates his work using elephant dung, has won this year’s £20,000 Turner Prize. It is the first time in 12 years that a painter has won the prize. The French fashion designer agnes b presented the prize. Mr Ofili joked: “Oh man. Thank God! Where’s my cheque?” Then he said: “I don’t know what to say. I am just really happy. I can’t believe it. It feels like a film and I will watch the tape when I get home.” Mr Ofili, 30, incorporates lumps of elephant dung in every work ….

  • Indigo Red

    Then there was the that time in 1908 when Claude Monet took a look at one of his paintings – then valued at $100K and took 3 yrs to paint – decided it wasn’t good enough and amid protests took out a knife and paint brush and permanently defaced the painting. Ethics discussion broke out: does the artist have the right to deface or destroy his own work? And, of course, the age old question – what is art?

    I spent several years in university on two continents and received a degree in Art/Art History and still have no idea what art is and isn’t. I know that Picasso made a bunch of money signing scraps of paper for rubes who thought anything signed by him was art. I’ve seen Modern Art and Ancient Art that ain’t worth crap and, as Sadie points out, some of it was literally crap.

    Years ago, I found a broken red broom handle. I cut the shivered end smooth, drilled a hole into the flat end, inserted a male-male screw (no, not some SF porn reference) and installed the red stick on the wall so that it was poking straight out. An unsophisticated friend came over and asked what it was supposed to be and I said, “a red stick” to which he chortled a rude remark. Over the years he saw the red stick many times, but said nothing more. When I finally moved from the area, my unsophisticated friend asked what I’d done with the red stick. I told him it had been thrown out with the rest of the junk collected over the years. To my surprise, he was actually dismayed that I’d done such a thing, why hadn’t I offered it to him? My unsophisticated friend came to really like this stupid piece of trash art explaining that it represented to him the real and imaginary continuous line or string of numbers described in mathematics when the same digit in a number is repeated ad infinitum. I was and am sorry I threw it away.

    Still, I have no idea what art is and isn’t.   

  • Libby

    In addition to public subsidization, I would also blame the need for artists to now provoke instead of please its audience. So many modern art exhibits just give me an emperor’s new clothes vibe, where to admit that one doesn’t get the message of, say, a video of a woman who has chained her ankle to a post in a field who then hops in a circle and squawks (saw this at Mass MOCA a few years ago), is to admit that you are a neanderthal. There’s a good movie about the pretentiousness and idiocy of modern art called “(Untitled)”.


    The word “art” has certainly been tossed around to include; cooking, shaving, happiness, education and even the art of trolling and seduction. I guess if one is willing to pull out their wallet and pay big bucks for a cooking class or pulp art – declaring it official art whether it’s hanging in a museum or on your dinner plate possibly justifies the expense by calling it art.
    Me, I call a lot of it somewhere between craft to crap, with the exception of those wonderful surgeons who can make a child with a hair lip smile for the first time – that’s artistry.

  • Indigo Red

    At one time, ‘art’ was simply something made by man as displayed in the words artificial, artifact, artifice, etc. Only recently – last 100 -150 yrs – has art come to mean something beautiful and pleasing to put over the sofa to cover the unsightly stain on the wall. Art was the process, not the product, and like anything else, if you don’t like the product don’t buy it, don’t look at it, and most importantly don’t encourage it. We look back at Michelangelo, Rafael, Leonardo, and the rest of the ninja turtle wannabes of the Renaissance and say they were great artists, but they weren’t ‘artists’ at all, they were painters and sculptors and masons. Leonardo told the Sforzas that along with engineering he could “paint and sculpt a little.” Vermeer was a painter. Durer was a printer. Artists simply did not exist as we know the term today and the term artist was rather pejorative even in Impressionist France. All I can determine from the alleged art work in question is that I don’t like the photo of it; I’ve no idea how it really appears just as my first viewings of La Gioconda (Mona Lisa) is art class was one of admiration and awe. Then I saw the painting up close and personal and thought, “Leo took 16 years to paint this?! What a rip-off.” I liked Franz Hal’s “Gypsy Girl” on the wall opposite that he spent maybe a month on.

  • Jose

    It’s time again to dust off Tom Stoppard.
    “Skill without imagination is craftsmanship and gives us many useful objects such as wickerwork picnic baskets. Imagination without skill gives us modern art.”

  • Charles Martel

    “Imagination without skill gives us modern art.”
    One crucial skill that’s gone by the wayside is the ability to draw. So few modern artists can draw beyond the advanced stick-figure level. Apparently learning how to draw detracts from spontaneity and creativity, much like learning rules of grammar interferes with good writing.