Conceptual Art and art with context, vs.Naive art ( intuitive art, self-taught art). This was the subject of afternoon tea today. A lot was said about the complexities of conceptual art and the validity of niave art, but the underlying thread was the unavoidable value judgements placed on all art when catagories are imposed.
What is art ( la question la plus répétée), and why does it have to be fillet into these crazy sections?
When I make art, i deal with concepts, some of which are to be grasped and some of which elude any difinitive explanations. It is the way of the art. I think that when I make something and decide to inject it into the arena Art, then i can expect some of the addressees to consider it in the context of the genre Art. As such, i feel an obligation to embue that "work of Art" with the wealth of context that informs it. The adage is that "art is not created in a vaccume". I take this to mean that art is influenced by everything. If i say "I just made this because i wanted to make something" or " there's no meaning behind this", or " I just came up with this", then you can point to the fact that there are concious and subconcious decisions that go into everything that we do as human beings. One can no sooner make a declarative political statement and retreat, than one can apply what they make as art and declare that it has no meaning. There are certainly decorative arts and commercial arts( again with the catagories ) that are no less important as objects of beauty, but is art an all inclusive, all access 7-11 of human expression? I don't know the answer.
This is not to say that art requires an art degree or an academic treatise, but rather that if one puts an object into the arena of art, than it has to be critiqued as art, an as such it's context and content come into play.
... I think categories provide a viable conduit between art/artist and their addressees. The creation of categories however, invariably includes the one and excludes the other. So then the criteria for these categories can also be critiqued in the context of understanding better what is before us.If I say, "good concept", "good form" or "good conveyance", what do I mean? What is "good"? Who establishes "good" and how objective is that descriptive? Or can it be objective?
The academic response to that can easily be said to favor culture, environment and experience, because for instance what Michael Auping at the Modern considers good form or conveyance, is not the same as, say the "curator" at the thrift store on Jacksboro Highway! You know what I mean? The anticipated response to that is “well, the thrift store guy is just accepting donations, putting them out and pricing them." That process fascinates me because it is the same context in which a museum curator works. Curator visits galleries, peruses catalogues, view other collections, and buys at auction what is "good", in concept, form and conveyance. Thrift guy goes through donations, looks on eBay, views what else is out there on the thrift floor and "values" the piece based on what's out there. It seems conditioned by what has come before, more so than a scrutinized and constant investigation of the established criteria.
So what I’m saying is that in order to appreciate art, one not only has to find ways into the art that are less traveled, but one must put in the extra time to go beyond the categories, the context and the criteria. One must blaze a trail to the thing itself and let the flames of that blazed trail melt away the brush and thorns, the overgrowth of established ideas, and the waxy veil that obscures that consummation with the object of our disdain or desire.