Volume I, Number 1, Fall 2004

STATE of the VISUAL ARTS

The following is an article is from Media partners MSNBC OCVive.com myOC.com, Saturday, October 5, 2002 relating to an article written by Jeff Kramer in the Orange County Register, July 16, 2002.

Here is something that I am sure you all will get a good laugh about. Don't you just love being an artist?!

Can this modern art movement.

Today, we have an important art-news update from England, or Great Britain, or the United Kingdom, or whatever they're calling it these days.

As you may recall, the last time we checked in on the British art community, it had awarded a major art prize, plus 20,000 pounds (about $30,000) to an artist named Martin Creed, for a work entitled "The Lights Going On and Off". It consisted of a vacant room in which the lights went on and off.

Yes. He got thirty grand for that. Why? Because "The Lights Going On and Off" possesses the quality that your sophisticated art snot looks for above all else in a work of art, namely: No normal human would ever mistake it for art. Normal humans, confronted with a room containing only blinking lights, would say: "Where's the art? And what's wrong with these lights?"

The public prefers the old-fashioned style of art, where you have some clue as to what the art is supposed to represent. This is why the Sistine Chapel frescoes painted by the great Italian artist Mike L. Angelo are so popular. The public is impressed because (1) the people in the frescoes actually look like people, and (2) Mike painted them on the ceiling. The public has painted its share of ceilings, and it always winds up with most of the paint in its hair. So the public considers the Sistine Chapel to be a major artistic achievement, and will spend several minutes gazing at it in awe and wonder ("Do you think he used a roller?") before moving on to the next thing on the tour, which ideally will be lunch.

The public has, over the years, learned to tolerate modern art, but only to the degree that it has nice colors that would go with the public's home decor. When examining a modern painting, the public invariably pictures it hanging over the public's living-room sofa. As far as the public is concerned, museums should put sofas in front of all the paintings, to make it easier to judge them.

This kind of thing drives your professional art snots CRAZY. They cannot stand the thought that they would like the same art as the stupid old moron public. And so, as the public has become more accepting of modern art, the art snots have made it their business to like only those works of "art" that are so spectacularly inartistic that the public could not possibly like them, such as "The Lights Going On and Off".

Which leads us to the latest development in the British art world. You are going to think I made this development up. Even I sometimes wonder if I made it up, although I know for a fact that I did not, because I am looking at a story about it from the London Telegraph. Here is the key sentence:

"The Tate Gallery has paid 22,300 pounds of public money for a work that is, quite literally, a load of excrement."

Yes. The Tate Gallery, which is a prestigious British art museum, spent 22,300 pounds - or roughly $35,000 - of British taxpayers' money to purchase a can containing approximately one ounce of an artist's very own personal ... OK, let's call it his artistic vision. The artist is an Italian named Piero Manzoni, who died in 1963, but not before filling 90 cans with his vision. According to the Telegraph, "The cans were sealed according to industrial standards and then circulated to museums around the world."

Now if somebody were to send YOU a can of vision, even sealed according to industrial standards, your response would be to report that person to the police. This is why you are a normal human, as opposed to an art professional. The art museums BOUGHT it. The Telegraph states that, in addition to the Tate, both the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Pompidou Museum in Paris have paid actual money for cans of Manzoni's vision. (Notice that I am tastefully refraining from making a joke involving "Pompidou.")

Anyway, here's what I'm picturing. I'm picturing a British citizen, a regular working guy who's struggling to get by on what money he has left after taxes. He wakes up one morning, grabs his newspaper and goes into the bathroom. While he's in there, he reads about how art snots have spent tax money - more money than he makes in a year - on this "art." The guy becomes angry, VERY angry. He's about to hurl the paper down in fury, but then, suddenly, while sitting there...

...he has a vision. And as he does, it dawns on him that he has a golden opportunity here, a chance to make, at last, some serious money.

I'm talking, of course, about art forgery.

Copyright 2002 The Orange County Register


Editorial Commentary
by Dennis Paul Batt

Well what an interesting story, if only it weren't true. My interpretation is rather simple. Here in the artists' community we have a saying about the situation in the "Art World." "There is a virus rampant throughout all of our institutions." What I mean by this is, a deadly disease infects most of the people involved in the decision-making as to what art is shown where it is shown. This virus consequently infects the public as well.

The symptoms are: (What symptoms does the public exhibit when it is infected with the virus?)

1.) The public does not buy art from local living artists.
2.) The public holds the artist, the art connoisseur, and the art professional up to constant ridicule and derision. (Have you heard the latest Van Gogh joke?)
3.) The public does not understand modern art.
4.) Museums of Art have a minimal attraction to the public in lieu of other venues of entertainment, sports, movies, music, drinking, gambling, need I go on?
5.) The artists starve for recognition and money, unless they are good marketers, businessmen, or have sucked up to the powers that be and play the game. (This means only producing art tailored for whatever lack of good taste that is the current fashion.)
6.) Most local artists except for an elite few are discriminated against by most of their local museums.
7.) Artists compete against each other for scraps (chump change and blue ribbons) and ridicule each other and each other's styles constantly.
8.) Money for art goes to professionals who for the most part can't create art even with practice.
9.) Money for art goes into programs and construction that do not involve input from artists.
10.) Money does not go to the artists who are the best of the best according to their peers. (This includes all styles of art.)
11.) Artists are venerated as mystical imaginary crazy beings that produce art only in traumatic lifestyles. (Seen the movie "Pollock" lately?)

The cure is: (What treatment needs to be administered?)

1.) The artists are allowed to select the art. (Most of us judge art as to whether we can "Do this", or if we can, "How difficult would it be?" This includes both skill levels and concept. It is the same premise used by the rest of the world. What happens, is when a non-artist in a position of power judges art, all e sees that e can do is the concept, therefore skill and craftsmanship have been eliminated from most art institutions of higher learning and most museums.)
2.) Artists celebrate each other's artwork and achieve solidarity through their organizations.
3.) Artists need more representation on the boards of museums throughout the world.
4.) Local artists most be given oversight on all acquisitions of local art and all display of local art.
5.) Artists must be celebrated as the true creators of art during exhibitions that feature their work. They are not a sideshow but the main attraction. (Having the collector or assembler as the recipient of all the credit is an abomination.)
6.) Abstract art, the "poetry" of art, can only be understood by the public if it is put in context with other forms of art that the public more readily comprehends, such as landscapes or wildlife art. (Exhibiting only cutting edge art is dead. Variety and diversity of art is in!)
7.) Selection of art using a multiple of techniques including democratic voting must be used.
8.) A meritocracy must be established in the art world, "If you can't hit a curve ball, you shouldn't be paid." The public recognizes this and appreciates real talent.

After the cure the results will be:

1.) Museum membership rivals other entertainment choices.
2.) Artists can make a decent living off their work.
3.) The finest artists as judged by their peers make salaries commensurate with their entertainment brethren, athletes and movie stars.
4.) Children respect creativity and aspire to be creative.
5.) Public art is respected.
6.) Art world professionals get huge increases in salary that equals corporate executives.
7.) Gallery owners make record profits on the sale of local as well as all other forms of artwork.
8.) Art museums and galleries are no longer intimidating to the public, but regular stops on their routines.
9.) Everybody's happy.

back to top

© Copyright 2004