Many tools to create an intersubjective and universal frame of reference to make sense of any art exist., for example art history, labels such as expressionism, impressionism, modern art, contemporary art, Fine art, Visual Arts, Northern Baroque Art, minimalist, post-minimalist, anti-art, anti-anti-art, New Aesthetics, new media, etc and ‘art speak” .
Here are three articles , as examples of the latter –
Why do so many galleries use such pompous, overblown prose to describe their exhibits? Well, there’s now a name for it: International Art English. And you have to speak it to get on. Andy Beckett enters the world of waffle.
International Art English
by Alix Rule & David Levine
On the rise—and the space—of the art-world press release.
“International Art English” was produced by Triple Canopy as part of its Research Work project area, supported in part by the Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.
How to Speak Artspeak (Properly)
A new guide decodes 146 essential buzzwords, movements, and trends of the postwar art world. How many do you know?
Your own art statement forms part of the above, attempting to create a general frame of reference for others to make sense of your art – in the way you wish them to interpret it. But your statement forms part of the discourse of art history and ‘art speak’ (universal or more localized versions) and tries to create the context in which others can dialogue and interact with and make sense of your art.
When reading art statements, catalogues accompanying exhibitions, how galleries, art dealers, curators, critics, reviewers and the media describe art it often seems as if they are not trying to assist one to understand work referred to as they become obstacles instead of aids assisting one to interact with the work.
A few words on one aspect of the social event when someone interacts with a work of art. Talcott Parsons and Juergen Habermas described in detail the so-called single and double contingencies involved in dyadic social interaction. One aspect concerns the assumption that the two individuals involved can ‘understand’ each other and to be able to do this they will share at least certain things that enable them to have some sort of shared frame of reference. For someone to interact meaningfully with a work of art (as the other ) it is necessary that some sort of common frame of reference and understanding exist and that is shared by the viewer as represented, depicted and expressed by the work of art. Many examples when this was not the case exist in the history of art. We are especially aware of such situations exist in modern and contemporary art, for example first vernissages of Impressionist work, the bed of Tracy Ermin, the shark etc of Hirst, etc. It might be the case that this failure by art work to interact meaningfully with viewers existed in the history of art and that we are only aware of more recent situations because of modern mass media.
I feel visual art should speak for itself and if I need to explain an individual work in words then I could have written an article, a poem, short story, press statement, etc instead of using visual media and visual communication. This would be the ideal situation where all all individuals share the one, social, cultural background and universal frame of reference and understanding, interests, values, attitudes and norms. This obviously is not the case and this is the reason why I attempt to create some form of mutual context and frame of reference in which to interact with my own work and art process to those who are new to them by phrases such as the following – minimalist, post- minimalist, postmodern, aesthetic research and experimental exploration of aspects of the Western tradition of Fine Art and more specifically the genre of painting.
Such phrases do not replace the visual work, that always consist of explorations by working in series, in which I try to be authentic and true to myself at each state of the process. Their purpose is not to label my work but merely to propose some kind of loose, common frame of reference for the work and the viewer to approach, make sense of and understand it. Of course the painter cannot compel anyone to view, make sense of and interpret work in a certain way because when he has completed the work it is out of his/her hands and it became an object in the public domain. Perhaps in the same way as we make statements about ourselves, my SELF, by presenting or appearing in public dressed and behaving in a certain manner – how our presentation of Self is viewed and interpreted is out of our hands and it depends on the perception and frame of reference of interpretation and understanding (or cognition), values and attitudes of others we come across and interact with. https://youtu.be/ostkJpJlUXg