Monday, October 11, 2010

What Do You Want From Art?

What Do You Want From Art?

I read an article in passing recently that asked the question, “What does the public want from art?”. The article-- which, if memory serves me correct was featured in the Illinois Times, focused on current art market trends and the complications between what the public desires to view compared to what is coveted by art institutions and galleries. The piece targeted regional artwork and the local art scene-- however, this rather broad question obviously has global appeal. After all, in the last decade alone we have seen various forms of protest throughout the world concerning art and how and where it is viewed-- and what should be viewed.

This question is one that tends to open up a large can of worms for the majority of art enthusiast-- mainly because there are as many answers, if not more, to the question as there are people interested in art. After spending 5 years ‘connected’ to art world buzz and opinions online I must say that I’ve seen hundreds if not thousands of opinions on the issue-- as well as variations of stances on the matter. Some take a hard line stance on what they expect from art-- the Stuckists for example-- while others are open to anything and everything.

The idea of certain forms or styles of artistic expression being excluded by the global art market-- or by prestigious galleries and art museums-- when in reality the public desires said work as a visual definition of who we are today is prominent within this ongoing debate. That said, the concern for many is that-- due to this information driven age-- how art is defined within the context of culture will somehow become a game of creative inclusion/exclusion. In other words, there is concern that only what is “in” will define art and thus shape culture no matter what direction the public embraces-- as art tends to do.

To put it bluntly, there are those who feel that culture-- as far as art is concerned-- is being hijacked by the higher echelon of the art market and the very institutions that should strive to focus on how art defines us as a people today based on our respected geographic or regional locations. To those there is a sense of cultural loss-- or cultural manipulation depending on how you view it. Those who take that view feel that our collective visual culture is being raped by the mainstream art market, art institutions that seem to embrace artwork based on controversy or value within the current market alone, and media hype-- which often focuses on said factors rather than the artwork itself.

With that in mind I ask you to ask yourself-- what do you want from art? Will the art that is praised as defining us as a culture today be a true reflection of who we were tomorrow? Will future generations ‘see’ us for how we really were based on visual interpretations of the artwork created-- and coveted-- during our lifetime? What say you?

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin

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