Monday, September 07, 2009

Designing With Purpose.

I hate artists.

I have a lot of friends that are either currently in, or have gone to, art school. There is a strange prevailing notion that if you must survive by selling your art in a commercial sense, then you have failed. As though not getting people to part with god-awful gobs of money for your artistic flights of fancy which you have barfed onto paper, or clay, or stone, means that you are not a TRUE artist.

I think that this is entirely backwards. Art for art's sake is art, but it's also useless. Unless you attach a purpose to it, then you've achieved nothing. Is the purpose to inform? To entertain? To enlighten? Great books live on, enriching and delighting people generation after generation. There is value in that. A painting can have purpose, but the artist must know what it is. The artist must know what he is trying to communicate.

Art is best when it has that purpose. Art without purpose is aesthetic masturbation in the same way that the more esoteric aspects of philosophy are mere mental masturbation. Fun for the person doing it, but why should anyone else care?

I hate artists who think of themselves as geniuses. Andy Warhol, for all of the cool things he created, was not a genius. He was a self-centered twat who thought the absolute world of himself. If Warhol had never lived, the world would be damn near identical to how it is, now. And what have you done as an artist? Why is a painting by any of the manifold artists alive today worth a gajillion dollars? What value does it have that any other aesthetic production doesn't have?

You do not succeed as an artist by selling blowing an artistic cum load to people who are so puzzled by this strange thing whizzing past them called life that they need to reach out and grasp at experiential things to validate their own seemingly meaningless existence. Art critics, grand galleries, bah! It's all worthless.

From an economic standpoint, I cannot argue with the financial value of many of the paintings. They are worth what someone will pay. If someone is willing, regardless of whether I think them an idiot or not, that's how much it's worth. But the entire system built up around that process. The critics who give thumbs-up or thumbs-down, the rich fools who fall in line and purchase and re-purchase as though they have some fundamentally valuable resource.

I find it no surprise at all that all the hollow, ridiculous fools who populated Wall Street, donated such epic amounts of their money to the arts. They began to realize how inconsequential and pointless their little life of number games was. And what do fools without a sense of existential confidence do? The turn to art. Half of the museums in New York announced financial problems as soon as all the rich twits funding them went bankrupt.

There is no value to art for art's sake. It must do something. That end goal may be artistic, but the application must be understood. Some pompous shit can't just barf onto canvas and expect that someone will want it for $50,000. He must know what his art is for.

And that's the key problem. So many artists think that art is an existentially pure entity. They think that it can exist by itself, free of other things. I argue that it cannot. It must be attached to something. Whether it's a painting for a room, or a wall; or a sculpture to welcome people to a stadium. Art is the icing on the cake, but artists think that it's all that exists. A room without a painting is still a room that can be lived in. What is a painting sitting in a field? It's nothing. It's paint on paper in a pattern that is meaningful to only a few.

I love art. Flights of artistic fancy in architecture give a building character, communicate something about the architect, the time, the place, truly the zeitgeist of the building's construction. An artistic building is more valuable than a non-artistic building, but it must still be a building.

Even a great work of art like Starry Night. Once it is created, people enjoy it, they stare at it. But what do they do with it? They put in on their computer desktop. They get a poster of it for their bedroom. They get it on a credit card (like me). They enjoy it as art for its own sake, but they apply it to things. They apply it to the trappings of life, of which art is not a part. They use art to make life better, but art without that life is worthless.

Why am I ranting about this? Because I think that pestilence of opinion in art schools does a disservice to art students. Instead of encouraging them to find new and novel ways to apply their art to things, they are told that art as anything other than a mere expression is inferior. And if you fail at that, well youre' just not good enough.

In economic terms, you are making a product. It is your job to make people want your product. I got to the websites of artists who only upload low-res versions of their work, and then try and sell prints. No! No no no no! You should be doing your best to disseminate your work, get it out there. Give it away! If you don't know what to do with your work, let others see it and decide. You may get a commission to do a mural on a wall. Or a portrait of a family dog. Art was once like that. The great artists of the renaissance usually made their money appealing to the vagaries of the wealthy. They loved their art, but they knew what they made. They made a product that they damn well better sell.

By that useless art school paradigm, 99.9% of artists will fail. By my paradigm, you can become a world-renowned artist, or a great local one, and everything in between. There are many different levels of success in a world of art-as-product, but very few levels of failure.

No comments: