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Did Painting Die?

 
 
Reply Sun 27 Jul, 2003 08:44 pm
Major international installations such as the Venice Biennale focus more and more on installation art. Many of the most reviewed gallery spaces in major cities seem to promote art that involves almost anything but paintings that are meant to hang on walls. Digital art is coming into its own..or is it? Is traditional painting - abstract or representational - dead as a doornail? Much of the "new" art has expanded the envelope of what is thought of as "visual art".

Do you think this apparent change in art interest is true? Are you stimulated by the changes and use new ideas in your own work? Are you displeased by the shift from traditional painting/sculpture, bemused by it, or delighted by it (if you think there has been a shift)?
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Vivien
 
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Reply Mon 28 Jul, 2003 11:42 am
conceptual/installation art doesn't excite me. I think a lot of it will not stand the test of time as it is derivative and unimaginative and has backed itself into a dead end. Some of it should be classified more as contemporary film or theatre rather than art.

Painting is alive and well but the major galleries are very seduced by appearing 'cutting edge' and show some very dubious work!

During my degree i noticed a real change - the degree shows at the start were totally abstract/conceptual. When i finished, at my degree show there were a considerable number of figurative painters and there does seem to be a move back towards it. Personally, I hope so.
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ossobuco
 
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Reply Mon 28 Jul, 2003 12:04 pm
I like some pieces in most kinds of visual art...that I can think of, and I like that the "envelope" is expanded. I have been unhappy at different times that there has been such emphasis on one type of visual art with seeming sneering at others, exclusion of others as passe.

As I get older I see how fast time really flies and how much is left unexplored. I remember how I was dismayed when I first started painting in the early seventies that painting portraits or genre scenes or landscapes or still lifes seemed to be dismissed across the board..at least in the weekly I tended to read-to-learn...and just when I was beginning to look around at art history, see photos of the world's paintings in books, and finally starting to see more paintings in the flesh.

Since then I have changed my mind, there is a lot of room for exploration even within representational painting (certainly within abstract, and the abstract/representational interface...) and some of the exploration is appreciated by viewers, sometimes even reviewers.

New use of digital technology opens up a route that excites some more people, and some of that work will bounce back and affect perhaps the painting of the plainest still life, or how we perceive ones done before.

In architecture, Frank Gehry started fooling around with bending titanium sheeting somewhat before the computer came around to make that easier (the Bilbao Guggenheim wasn't worked out on computer). So bending and torqueing in building surface wasn't only due to the new technology, but the technology and subsequent proliferation of these architectural forms will help people see buildings as more malleable, even if they or we hate that in a building. I see it as a kind of mannerism of building form... whatever one's reaction, the stretching adds a tool of seeing to the kit of all visual artists, even those whose work gets more distinctively rigid with forms, say, in a piece of sculpture or painting, as a kind of counterpoint.

I have become more interested, for example, in formal landscape design, after many years of exploring rather free form, inventive, site planning. There is a push pull going on, even within myself.
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Portal Star
 
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Reply Mon 28 Jul, 2003 01:43 pm
I think a good measure of whether somthing is "dead" or not is the amount that subject is taught. Most grade schools, high schools, and colleges offer art/painting courses, so I would not say it is dead. Unpopular in the art world is not the same as dead, in fact, dominance of one type of art is usually the cause for revolution and new movements.

One thing I am worried about is figurative sculpture. That is only offered at a few universities, and I haven't seen anything realy outstanding in that area since Rodin. (Moore isn't wholly figurative...) I think production is more the issue in the success of art today. Because mass production at little cost is available (and of your favorite artworks through history) people aren't commissioning huge works of original art anymore. Kind of like transcript monks after the invention and popularity of the printing press. I think painting is still safe because it's relatively quick, inexpensive, and portable. People like it. Cavemen liked it. My neighbor likes it, I don't even have to ask.
I don't know what will happen to the future of sculpture, tapestry weaving, metalworking, etc. Now that mass production in art is so prevalent. Mass produced art has a tendency to be bad art, I think it's a lowest common denominator sort of situation. Most mass produced art sort of appeals to everyone, and few really hate it.
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Vivien
 
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Reply Mon 28 Jul, 2003 02:08 pm
I agree with a lot that both of you say.

The conceptual stuff that i can't relate to is the sort of thing that you take in in one second flat and then think ...and so????? it doesn't sustain. Some is thought provoking and that does.

Switching a light bulb on and off is so shallow - ok yes we get the point - but now what? Some installation work using light can be incredible. I worked with a sculptor who was using LED lights in engraved perspex that changed colour through an incredible spectrum that he programmed - now they were sustaining and very beautiful.
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Violet Lake
 
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Reply Mon 28 Jul, 2003 03:22 pm
Painting will never die. Nothing else can do what painting does. Take a look at the painting of John Currin as an example of someone who is keeping the form alive and well.

http://www.carnegieinternational.org/html/art/currin.htm

http://www.serpentinegallery.org/future2.html
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JLNobody
 
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Reply Mon 28 Jul, 2003 06:31 pm
art
I agree with your evaluation of John Currin, at least regarding The Pink Tree. It is SO mysterious, so evocative of strange almost unconscious understandings and feelings. And it is connected both to earlier traditions and modern art. It has many of the virtues of the best abstract art. Very encouraging.
My objection conceptual art is its failure to appreciate the role of vision in the plastic arts. To the extent that there is some attempt to engage the audience visually (as oppoed to the readings of Kosuth) it connects the eyes to the intellect rather than to the heart. The intellect is never as deep as are feelings. Art is deep or it is merely illustration or pretty pictures.
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Portal Star
 
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Reply Mon 28 Jul, 2003 08:24 pm
I don't know if I would argue feelings over intellect, intellect can be a great element in a painting. I think many abstracts fail to have intellect, feeling, or visual stimulation, resulting in base art.

Don't forget though, that about 90% of the art being produced is bad. Especially if it's movement is popular (more people are in it for the money). This holds true with many art movements, and abstraction is no exception. Thankfully, the scope of history tends to weed out the better art for future generations to see, leaving the bad un-remembered.

For example, would probably hate/be annoyed with grotesque art if I lived near the end of the height of it's popularity, however, because it is somthing I see only the best of and on rare occasion, I enjoy it.
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ossobuco
 
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Reply Mon 28 Jul, 2003 08:45 pm
A whole plethora of criteria/responses are important for me in looking at art, or ..anything at all. One or more comes to the fore at any given time and they may or may not vie with each other. The topic about favorite paintings has been really interesting for me, as I have tried to figure out favorites that represent my feelings, perception, intellect, right now, and see I haven't weeded out much, at all, by saying that, when I look at old favorites...I mostly still like them.

It is a little like looking at sports on tv. I haven't watched pro football or even tennis in at least a decade, maybe more. I liked watching sports, once upon a time; I was a teen sports spectator, that is, one who used to read sports stories. So if you put me in front of almost any game (not hockey, no, no, no) I would soon start to work out what is going on and get into watching it. So I can get involved in discussion about almost any art, mentally. My own visceral choices are reactive, to the work, gut takes. Lately, I can start to say why I care about one more than the other, and for the most part, I still appreciate the early pieces I liked, so either the early feelings were informed (let me say I doubt it) or the later ones have some feeling base, particular to me, besides all the analytic words.
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ossobuco
 
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Reply Mon 28 Jul, 2003 08:49 pm
But I have blown off topic, no? painting is valuable to many of us, but will it live as something other than, cough, a hobby, or better word, avocation, or, better yet, passion?
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JLNobody
 
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Reply Mon 28 Jul, 2003 10:41 pm
art
Cough! cough! COUGH!! Oh, that last one hurt. O.K. Osso, passionate avocation. Decades ago when I was an art student (the mid-fifties) and greatly enamored of the expressions of abstract expressionism, I realized that I was not brave enough to become a professional artist. So I did something else (academics). Now that I'm retired and have been painting full time since 1998 and with no concern for what will sale, art (specifically painting) has become the closest thing I have to a religion.
But when I paint, or when I look at others' paintings, I seek the "gut" or visceral reactions, as Osso put it. I greatly appreciate the life of the intellect, the sharp and illuminating insights of analysis, but art goes much deeper into the--I must call it, despite my atheism--spiritual recesses of my being. Aesthetic experience IS the face of God. Nothing else. It is the qualitative grasp, as opposed to science's quantitative picture, of reality.
Pardon my purple prose. I need to indulge myself right now.
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ossobuco
 
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Reply Mon 28 Jul, 2003 10:55 pm
Wow, I didn't mean you, JL, re the hobby (yikes, I know it isn't a hobby as in pasttime for you. and besides, I am not against hobby, though that is another subject), but whether painting will continue to engage the eye of the world, either the world in the form of the media, or of individual people...
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farmerman
 
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Reply Mon 28 Jul, 2003 11:25 pm
The question has been distilled down to the essential oil here. IS there still a universal need to create? the means and media are merely one persons pallete vs another. I dont feel that theyre relevant differences to warrant an us vs them polarity.
As digital art gets more attractive to, and is more manipulated by the creative people, there probably will be a whole new era of digitally manipulated works that will be no different in how theyre appreciated than are pastels or pencil, or oils are now.
Right now, most all of the digital works Ive seen are produced by toolboxes of effects that are plastered on the paper . Its amazing how many times Ive seen the DAli-like melting subjects being passed off as profound, when they are merely applied trick number 12 in the toolbox of effects in PAINTSHOP. Bleeecchh
We were at a show a few weeks ago back home and there were 2 digital-manipulators there showing off their PHOTOSHOP tricks. One guy said to a bunch of his admirers. "this will be the end of watercolors because I can turn any photo into a watercolor by the effects pallete"
That was so much bullshit. He forgot the interaction between the artist and subject. Whereas all his "watercolors" looked like paint-by-number works, of an existing photo he wasnt a creative enough person to see what he really could have done if he had the talent to start with that which was in his brain(if anything) and then bring that into existence, . Instead, he was only able to screw with a photo and "trick it out from a set of tools that were presented him in some software"

I find most digital art like that today. Im not saying that someone out there hasnt really discovered the process of ruling the media and producing from their minds desire. I just havent seen it in my travels yet.

No Virginia, painting isnt at all dead, the old craft merely gets redefined every century or so.


Im going to go and do a search in the next few days . Im going to try to find one of Thomas Eakins lectures that he presented concerning the death of painting resulting from the growth of photography. (Nothings new guys). When I find it Ill post it.
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ossobuco
 
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Reply Mon 28 Jul, 2003 11:32 pm
Eakins, perfect, I love it! Especially re painting dealing with the emergence of photography, which I also love.... Hope you find the lecture.
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Vivien
 
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Reply Tue 29 Jul, 2003 01:11 am
I totally agree with the visceral reaction and the passion.

I need to be deeply interested in and passionate about a subject to produce a painting of any depth - then the feelings, emotions, sense of place/space/mood or whatever appear in the work - that is the intellect working but at a deeper level and secondary to the visual/emotional response.

re: digital imagery - i agree that much of it is slick and unimaginative - like 'making a watercolour' - they are DREADFUL! just pure technique and nothing remotely like a true passionate watercolour!

Having said that - I create digital imagery and i consider it equal to my paintings. The images take as long to create, consist of many many layers just like a painting and exploit the potential of the computer in the same way as i exploit the potential of charcoal or paint. (you can see some on my site - they are not reproductions of anything but exist only within the computer)
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Violet Lake
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Jul, 2003 05:54 am
Digital art is a new medium with a unique toolkit, and inherent limitations. Simple as that. As with any medium, what counts is what one does with it.

farmerman, I'd like to see what happens when your photoshop guru tries to peddle his "watercolors" to the art world Laughing

Let's not confuse art with design... the automatic watercolor effect has its place in an advertisement or brochure, but its use in art is limited. That said, I agree with Vivien that it's possible to create digital art with as much "art" in it as any painting... well... almost as much... maybe 93%. 9 out of 10 art historians agree Wink
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farmerman
 
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Reply Tue 29 Jul, 2003 01:36 pm
violet. This guy is peddling his stuff to photo buyers and gives a line of total crap about the artistic merit his work displays. There are many out there who talk and dont walk .
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Lightwizard
 
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Reply Tue 29 Jul, 2003 02:16 pm
Digital art is painting if the artist is using the program as a paint brush. I don't believe picking up paint with a brush, painting knife, stick or whatever is ever going to die. It goes back to the first caveman picking up a stick and using natural pigments to create art. Keith Haring basically brought this elemental style of art (the first cartooning) back into vogue almost singlehandedly.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Jul, 2003 07:12 pm
I agree, glight, I think it is a very inborn trait in humans, to make marks to communicate, and then to make those marks nice...

hmm, were some hieroglyphic or stele markers terrible at it? Did only the best get to do the cave painting? oh, to be a fly on the wall...
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Portal Star
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 Jul, 2003 01:30 am
well, public steles weren't popular art, they were comissioned by kings and pharos and whatnot so they were usually executed by good artists. However, there is a period of time where the steles suck and are badly copied from other steles, but I forget when and where this is. Sorry, that class was a while ago.
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