Thursday, 29 August 2013

Space race

everything about this picture is heroic, 
the subject, 
the colours, 
the composition, 
the stance: 
but it still manages to look like an advert for Cliff Richard in Summer Holiday.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The Art of Wallpaper

Is there a difference between something designed for purely commercial reasons and something designed for purely aesthetic reasons?  Is there an overlap?  William Morris' wallpaper was designed to look good, to take advantage of modern (Victorian) materials, machinery and techniques and to stand repeated viewings.  But, art?

Warhol brought Morris' thinking into the 20th century.  Using modern (1960s) materials, machinery and techniques his floating cow wallpaper made some kind of statement.  The statement may have been " I like images worth repeating".

Is itIs it enough to say "I am an artist, this is my art"?  If you use shop bought wallpaper as an album sleeve does it become art just because you were a Fine Art student like Barney Bubbles or Ian Dury?
But aren't cds and records and mp3s commercial products?  If you're a songwriter and performer and you want your songs to be out there aren't you entering this commercial world?  What is the difference between your art and the art of the wallpaper designer?

Sunday, 25 August 2013

now, what's the question?

Wagner said this . . .

I'm not quite certain what I really was intended for; I only remember that one night I heard for the first time a symphony of Beethoven's performed, that it set me in a fever, I fell ill, and on my recovery had become a musician.

Oddly, Ian MacCulloch of Echo and the Bunnymen said exactly the same thing about seeing David Bowie doing Starman on Top of the Pops.


Friday, 23 August 2013

reductio ad absurdum


Art is where you find it

Art is where you find it                                                 yes
Art is where you find it                                                 yes
Art is where you find it                                                 yes
Art is where you find it                                                 yes
Art is where you find it                                                 yes
Art is where you find it                                                 yes
Home is where the art is

Monday, 19 August 2013

Art is a hammer


Here we go again.  What is art?   Is it only art if it is hanging in a gallery?  Tolstoy didn't think so.  Neither does Peter Byrchmore.  Peter, of punk rock bands Goldblade, G.O.R.G.E.O.U.S., The Nightingales and The Membranes, sees art as something that pervades our whole lives, even if it is a blunt instrument.

Tolstoy agrees - even answering the "is wallpaper art?" question by specifically commenting on the "ornamentation of houses".  

Leo also said that man uses words to transmit meaning, but uses art to transmit his feelings. 
NonProphet, Southampton street art, 2012

Friday, 16 August 2013

An American Trilogy

Elvis is generally considered to have had a three act career:

Act one was when we met, I loved you at first glance
You read your line so cleverly and never missed a cue

Between 1954 and 1958 Elvis was the young man with the big beat; the Sun sessions, the early RCA recordings, a couple of movies.  Yessir ma'am, Elvis could do no wrong.

Then came act two, you seemed to change and you acted strange
And why I'll never know.

Out of the army and into the movies: from Return to Sender to Yoga is as Yoga Does.

Act Three was, of course, the resurrection; from the Comeback Special, Elvis Country and Elvis in Memphis to the Vegas years and the inevtiable decline.  But some of Elvis' finest moments came from these final years.

Hitch your unicorn to a rainbow and contemplate this:

Elvis: a true artist

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

The Nature of Art

True art, said Einstein, is characterised by an irresistible urge in the creative artist.  The urge to create, to let it flow out: like children dancing or drunken wedding guests singing.  There's no rhyme, there's no reason.  It just comes tumbling down. 

Art, like dreaming, is a way for the soul, the mind of man, to make sense of the world. According to Aristotle filling in the gaps in nature; according to Chagall trying to improve on nature, but failing.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Vox pop

Chamber's Dictionary 1897 didn't provide a definitive answer to the question "what is art?" so a little crowd sourcing is called for.  Ok people, let's hear it.

This is a fairly common response.  Warning: contains hidden shallows.

Eric Lough suggested "art is the impression of a man's mind".  I once saw a set of photographs taken during a single afternoon by a severely autistic girl.  All of the photos were of tiny details of the world.  There were no vistas, no landscapes, no people.  There were geometric shapes, there were colours, there were textures.  I felt that, for the first time, I was seeing the world the way she did.  The whole world was confusing but by concentrating on a detail she regained control.  


Sunday, 11 August 2013

Define your terms

The original question was not so much "what is art?" as which "subjects of taste" are art and which are not.  For example, ballet is an art form, gymnastics is a sport.  How about rhythmic gymnastics?  Neither one nor the other.  Ballet, gymnastics and even rhythmic gymnastics are practical skills guided by rules, human skill as opposed to nature.  But they are not all art forms.

There is a similar question to be asked about where craft ends and art begins.  Is a well designed chair a work of art or is it always just a seat?  Was Chippendale a craftsman or an artist? Alessi? Issigonis?  Is wallpaper art if it was designed by William Morris or Andy Warhol.  Is wallpaper art if you can buy it in B&Q?

Practical skill guided by rules.  What rules?  Who decides?  Did Joyce or Van Gogh have the rule book?  Human skill as opposed to nature.  Can a photo of a landscape ever be considered art?

Chamber's is a start but it hasn't really helped.  We'll try again tomorrow.

Warhol by Phil (oil on tarmac, 2012)