Are there things such as values, principles, norms, standards and traditions in (Western) art? Or, is it a question of anything goes? When confronted with projects and work produced by the darlings of the media the impression is given that anything goes, as long as it provides media with something new, something different, something sensational to play around with.
I leave aside the social factors how such darlings of the media are manufactured, be it a Koons, Emin, Vo, Hirst, et al, and ask the question if there are general or universal values of visual art, principles of visual art and norms and traditions in the Western discourse of this socio-cultural practice. I do not wish to theorize in abstract like a Plato or Kant about beauty and other aspects of aesthetics, but instead wish to explore if these things are revealed by the body of work of individual artists.
I intentionally restrict myself to the socio-cultural practice of visual art and more specifically the discourse of the genre of painting. Other ‘art’ forms, such as performance ‘art’, installations, the new media, land ‘art’, etc will have their own discourses, traditions, standards, norms and practices. I have dealt with them in an articles titled ‘artertainment’ (art + entertainment).
The Stuckist art group was founded in 1999 with a specific anti-Britart agenda by Charles Thomson and Billy Childish; Hirst is one of their main targets. They wrote (referring to a Channel 4 programme on Hirst):
The fact that Hirst’s work does mirror society is not its strength but its weakness – and the reason it is guaranteed to decline artistically (and financially) as current social modes become outmoded. What Hirst has insightfully observed of his spin-paintings in Life and Death and Damien Hirst is the only comment that needs to be made of his entire oeuvre: “They’re bright and they’re zany – but there’s fuck all there at the end of the day.”
A Dead Shark Isn’t Art, Stuckism International Gallery 2003
In 2003, under the title A Dead Shark Isn’t Art, the Stuckism International Gallery exhibited a shark which had first been put on public display two years before Hirst’s by Eddie Saunders in his Shoreditch shop, JD Electrical Supplies. Thomson asked, “If Hirst’s shark is recognised as great art, then how come Eddie’s, which was on exhibition for two years beforehand, isn’t? Do we perhaps have here an undiscovered artist of genius, who got there first, or is it that a Hisrst stadead shark isn’t art at all?” The Stuckists suggested that Hirst may have got the idea for his work from Saunders’ shop display.
In a 2008 Channel 4 documentary called The Mona Lisa Curse, art critic Robert Hughes claimed that Hirst’s work was “tacky” and “absurd”. Hughes said it was “a little miracle” that the value of £5 million was put on Hirst’s Virgin Mother (a 35-foot bronze statue), which was made by someone “with so little facility”. Hughes called Hirst’s shark in formaldehyde “the world’s most over-rated marine organism” and attacked the artist for “functioning like a commercial brand”, making the case that Hirst and his work proved that financial value was now the only meaning that remained for art.
Julian Spalding, British art critic and author of the book Con Art – Why You Should Sell Your Damien Hirsts While You Can, has said “It’s often been proposed, seriously, that Damien Hirst is a greater artist than Michelangelo because he had the idea for a shark in a tank whereas Michelangelo didn’t have the idea for his David,” and “The emperor has nothing on. When the penny drops that these are not art, it’s all going to collapse. Hirst should not be in the Tate. He’s not an artist. What separates Michelangelo from Hirst is that Michelangelo was an artist and Hirst isn’t.”
Stefanie Schneider said on the Gerd Scobel documentary shown on 3sat called “Money or Life” in Dec 2011 that “He may be a designer, but certainly no artist.”
Hirst’s 2012 retrospective at the Tate Gallery, while setting records for attendance, also received many complaints. “Members of the public wrote to the state-funded gallery accusing it of wasting taxpayers’ money by showcasing art that was ‘repetitive’, ‘meaningless’ and ‘almost universally awful’. “
The above from Wikipedia.
Hirst, who employs others to manufacture his work, states that the important thing is the idea in one’s head not the execution of it. I find that the execution is essential, for several reasons. It is in the process of execution that one develops, masters and explores techniques and strategies – as well as the aesthetic-related insights that underlie, precede and accompany them – and, another reason, one frequently develops and modifies a work in the process of executing it. At least in the t type of open-ended processes of working that I am concerned with and emphasize.
I recently stated the following when I published a few of my latest work, end July 2015: In my will it states that: no museum, gallery, curator, collector,etc who is in possession of any work from the Koons or Hirst ‘art’ factories, or an Ono, Emin or Danh Vo will be allowed to purchase or hang any of my work, as I do not wish to be associated with what is passed off as ‘art’ by those or similar individuals, who live OFF art and not FOR it.
Other names of ‘artists’ need to be included here, for examples those mentioned in this article – https://ulrichdebalbian.wordpress.com/2015/08/01/artspace-artist-search-calling-all-artists-superheroes-and-villains-of-the-art-world/
Artspace states that: As the summer’s crop of superhero movies send hyper-empowered white knights into battle with their villainous nemeses, we wondered: who are the heroes and villains of the contemporary art world? After all, artists are nothing if not regular people with supranormal abilities, tussling it out on a global battlefield to see who will control the fate of art history—not to mention the world’s supply of disposable mogul income. What follows is a partial roster of the protagonists and antagonists vying for art-world supremacy.
VILLAIN: An enigmatic figure clearly employing some form of black magic, Marina Abramovic has a rap sheet full of mischief, including hypnotizing an entire city just by looking at them and getting into a performance-art brawl with Jay-Z (though the less said about that, the better).
HERO: Leading an army of narcotically amped-up monsterlings, aliens, and Buddhist sages, Takashi Murakami is the foe of Hirst and Koons, battling to gain control of the world’s store of megacollector money so that he can re-channel it to emerging artists of his beloved post-tsunami Japan.
Sherman, Wolfson, Abdessemed, Banksy, et al.
These and others fall under what I labelled as “artertainment’. https://ulrichdebalbian.wordpress.com/2015/07/12/artertainment/ “ARTERTAINMENT”
As observed by Wittgenstein when someone crosses the boundaries (in other words the tradition, principles, purpose, norms, values, attitudes, etc) of a certain discourse or socio-cultural practice without entering those of another discourse, s/he arrives in a a kind of socio-cultural no man’s land and no longer is meaningful or rather his/her propositions produced in that ‘area’ are meaningless. Attempts to manufacture such so called inter-disciplinary discourses by conflating traditions from different socio-cultural practices and domains have multiplied during the last few decades. One example of this is the no man’s land being created by the conflation of the disciplines of sociology and philosophy (as well as literature, fiction, creative writing, etc). One finds this in Germany and France and numerous academic institutions in other countries following authors and their ideas from those to countries.
During the last century we have increasingly being presented with this kind of discourse (tradition, domain, universe) conflation in ‘the arts’. Examples of this conflation of discourses and socio-cultural practices in ‘the arts’ are ‘new media’, performance ‘art’, installations, land ‘art’, digital art, ready-mades, aspects of conceptual art, etc.
I will deal with two factors concerning this ‘art conflation’, a social practice that I label as ‘artertainment’ – art + entertainment. I coin this neologism as it sums up and points to the conflation of aspects from many, diverse ‘art’ discourse or domains (for example, sculpture, painting and other visual arts, theatre, films, videos, fashion, design, photography, graphics, crafts, artisans, music, dance, pop music ‘gigs’ and shows, etc).
The first factor concerns the conflation of the aims, principles, traditions, norms, practices, techniques, frames of reference, etc of these and other discourses. The second factor concerns the usage and function of the word ‘artist’ to refer to those involved in these disciplines.
So as to provide socio-cultural validity for, bestow legitimacy on and give meaning and value to artertainment practices and products they are labelled, treated as and dealt with as ‘art’, and, they (those involved in such practices and their ‘products’) are given space, publicity and treatment by and in individuals (critics, curators, gallerists, collectors, financiers, institutions of teaching and learning such as schools, colleges, universities…, etc), public spaces and media (galleries, museums, Biennales, fairs, films, internet, videos, television programmes, newspapers, books and other publications, etc) AS IF the phenomena being dealt with are ‘art’ and produced or handled by ‘artists’. What occurs here is that the traditions, aims, purposes, principles, values, norms, and other aspects of the traditions of different art discourses, domains and disciplines are projected on these phenomena.
This projection and the conflation of the ‘aesthetic values’ of different art discourses and traditions do not only give the (misleading?) appearance that what is being dealt with is ‘art’ (and that the phenomena involved much be treated as such), but that the phenomena has the same value (frequently expressed in monetary terms) as those of some and/or all of these domains. Those involved in this misleading treatment of such phenomena select at will and vary the discourses they employ in their projections and conflations and the aesthetic values (standards, aims, purposes) they wish to employ when dealing with the phenomena involved.
Of course the phenomena being dealt with IS and much be perceived and viewed as someone or something sacred, untouchable, for the cultural elite, the initiated clique and superior intelligence only as they represent ‘ART’ (be it someone’s bed, underwear, shark, expressions, presence etc, such as those of Hirst, Koons, Abramovic, Ono’s dawn, dusk, midnight in a bed, doors, half a room, carton boxes covered in gold leaves, etc). Place it, do it, show it in a gallery, museum, Biennale, fair etc, then of course it unquestionably IS ‘art’. If you fail to accept or see this then you reveal yourself as a cultural Philistine with lower intelligence.
The second, of many socio-cultural factors that is loaded with lots of unquestioned cultural baggage (and in this manner introduce and involve numerous, uncritically accepted, implicit assumptions and pre-suppositions) is the notion of ‘artist’. When someone is referred to (by himself and/or others) by this term al most anything s/he does or does not, thinks, wears, eats, touches, excretes, digests, etc instantly might be perceived as ‘art’. Only superior beings, special individuals, the highly sophisticated cultural elite is able to grasp and act on this divine truth. When one of the above or other ‘artists’ fart, walk, sit, is nude, etc they do not merely fart, but s/he farts art, s/he is not merely nude but reveals ‘art’, when they remove or have their vestments removed, that act is ‘art’, the vestments and everything touched, thought, collected, thrown away, etc by those who assume the role of artist, becomes art, is valuable, can be exhibited, viewed, collected, auctioned and can be given a monetary value.
These are merely two of many factors involved when the words art and artist are employed. They are treated as special almost sacred words. They cannot be analysed or questioned, they are covered in many layers of mystique, they may only be handled by the self-appointed aesthetical elite, the culturally s/elected and ordained, high priests and priestesses of culture in the inner sanctum of the holiest of holies.
Ulrich de Balbian 12 June, 2015
Examples of the above – artertainment – is the performance of Jay Z, with/without Abramovic – Performance Artist Marina Abramović Says Jay Z ‘Used’ Her …
May 19, 2015 – Performance Artist Marina Abramović Says Jay Z ‘Used’ Her for Picasso … was inspired by Abramović’s 2010 performance The Artist is Present, …
“I will never do it again” | Spike Art
When Jay-Z adapted Marina Abramović’s performance “The Artist is Present” (2010) for his video “Picasso Baby” at New York’s Pace Gallery in 2013, many …
Marina Abramovic Was Wrong About Jay Z, Rapper Did …
May 20, 2015 – Performance artist Marina Abramovic slammed Jay Z in a new … Baby” music video, mirroring the star’s signature Artist Is Present style. Now …
You visited this page on 7/31/15.
Marina Abramović: Jay Z ‘completely used me’ | Art and …
http://www.theguardian.com › … › Marina Abramovic
May 19, 2015 – The artist, who collaborated with the rapper for his 2013 video for Picasso … in 2013 while the artist performed her work The Artist Is Present, in which … For his video, Jay Z riffed on Abramović’s work – sitting opposite a string …
JAY Z – Picasso Baby: A Performance Art Film on Vimeo
vimeo.com › DERTV › Videos
Dec 3, 2013
JAY Z performs “Picasso Baby” at the Pace Gallery in New York City. Explicitly inspired by the artist Marina …
Jay-Z Raps at Marina Abramović, or the Day Performance …
Jul 10, 2013 – This afternoon Jay-Z rapped his new art-inspired song “Picasso … Thumbnail image for Hans Haacke on “Gift Horse,” Gulf Labor, and Artist …
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The Rapper Is Present – The New Yorker
The New Yorker
Jul 11, 2013 – Marina Abramović and Jay-Z paced around, staring intently into each … Three years ago, when the performance artist Marina Abramović sat in …