Wednesday, December 07, 2005

When is a gallery visit of value?

Here is the mother of all questions.... What makes something art?

Click on the link to read a well-done critical analysis of the "place" for performance art in galleries - When is a Gallery Visit of Value?

"... That's why people still go to art galleries. And that's why people still want to own art: so they can look at it again and again, and always find something new. It's the same reason some people go to church. To experience something so magnetic, and so mysterious, that it's almost sacred. Few works on video, no matter how smart, and no matter how fancy the setting we watch them in, have that pull." - By Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post, Dec. 2, 2005

Now keep in mind, he did not say all videos are "one-timers", just the majority. So is he right? Is the internet the best venue for performance art? Should the galleries remain relegated to art that can be bought and sold? How does that influence innovation? Does it stifle creativity?

Or does it force the artist to return to the "idea" and process of making art. Humans are a "quick-study". This is proven by the overwhelming number of children dominating the internet. It is easier in this time, than any other, for an artist to master styles and techniques to the point of boredom.

Michelangelo said - what I create here destroys all those who come after me. He knew that masterful technique had been accomplished. That from then on, it was a matter of looking within the artist for new ways to interpret and create. Think about it this wasy - is there only one master plumber in the word or millions? Technique is mechanical. Thinking, now that's fresh.

Once the technique is mastered is when the "intellectual" aspect of art must take over (especially if it has been missing until now) for the work to continue.

I was raised in the school of realism, but have evolved into an abstract painter. I mastered traditional works, such as the portrait, years ago. It was after the mastering of technique that I turned inward to find the source of my art. Without this constant flow of questions, I would never have artwork to create the answers. Are there new questions in traditional realism? Of course, but it is still a matter of the intellect.

The works I condemn are the realist paintings and sculptures that are quiet. The ones that have no answers, because they ignore the questions associated with the most general "WHY?". I spent the past two years in northern Montana, where Charlie Russell and all his copycats are king. I eventually broke through the barriers to get a footing in the market there. But it was not without some effort. I went to the mountains to see them through my eyes. Not to recreate them through the eyes of an artificial cowboy. I didn't care about glorifying the terrain or cattle. I only wanted to use paint to interpret how average people instinctually utilize philosophy, religion and literature to deal with a beautiful environment that constantly tried to kill them with weather, emptiness and wild hardship.

I really have quite the appreciation for performance/video works. But I am basically an action painter, and the slow tedious preparation put into video artworks is in direct conflict with my creative process. Its the same reason I keep my sculpture works to a minimum. I produce over 200 paintings/year, because I have a lot to say. More than I feel I can get across in six-months of prep to make a video project. - DN


Anonymous said...

Interesting to equate CMR as an artifical cowboy? Since he is not. It would be irresponsible to place him as not a realist since he was very exacting in detail much more than Remington. Action or statements, yea, they are there. I would say his is the best of all western painters of realism. Too bad, you did not get to appreciate him and his work. I guess you may then stay as you say a Missouri artist. said...

My reference of "artificial cowboy" was to his numerous followers. I'm aware that he was a working ranch-hand.

As far as CMR, himself - he found his nitch and remained in its safety throughout his career. He disliked modern art and was closed to all its influence. This was his downfall and led to his popularity being predominately lost outside the western United States (Montana, Wyomingg, Utah, etc.) CMR is not considered important by most Art Historians, outside the realm of those in the business of "Cowboy Art".

Did he command a strong new movement of western art? Yes. Is that time past? Yes. I'm looking for art with a fresh approach, rather than technically-skilled work that is simply trying to make a few dollars off an easy to copy genre in a hot market.

As far as de-classifying me as a Montana artist - well that is also untrue. I love Montana and took the time to explore and interpret it through the lens of new perspective.

As far as I'm concerned, I took more time to "become" a Montana artist than the guy that sits in his studio trying to figure out how to reposition the horses in his hack-reproduction of a CMR painting.