Thursday, February 23, 2006

Making Aesthetic Judgment

Jack Vettriano

Jack Vettriano may be the most unpopular painter of the last 50 years - unless, that is, you measure popularity by what the general public thinks. "Vettriano is far and away Scotland's most successful contemporary painter... But critics tend either to ignore Mr. Vettriano or to swat him lazily away with the backs of their cultured hands." Is it pure elitism on the part of the critics, or is the public simply blind to such niceties as painting skill? The New York Times 02/23/06

Vettriano is one of those artists everyone has seen at the local "mall gallery". I even have had a few friends over the years that have purchased his prints. But do his paintings qualify as high-minded art? The question reminds me of a story I heard once about Willem de Kooning - he invited an art critic over to his home and on the coffee table was a book featuring a collection of "Saturday Evening Post" covers by Norman Rockwell. Willem immediately picked-up the book and started showing paintings to the critic, rejoicing in the technical prowess of Rockwell.

It is also said that Matisse religiously attended a weekly life drawing class, throughout his entire life.

So who are the critics versus the artists? Artists seem more adept at making aesthetic judgment, considering the fact that they are creating the work. If I make an unflattering remark about another artist's work - I feel that at least I am making it with a bit of first-hand understanding. Remember the term "Impressionism" was a derogatory description placed on artists by an unimpressed critic. - DN

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