Saturday, December 17, 2005

art and influence

Mery Lynn McCorkle writes in her December entry:
Art is a commodity. In art school, in art history classes, it's promoted as a search for meaning but it's a commodity, even when designed to be temporary and outside of the commodity market. Then documentation becomes the commodity. Art reviews exist mostly to tell readers what to buy, other artists what to emulate. One Charlie Finch review at was about what art he would like to buy as he strolled through NY galleries. Consumerism is so much easier than trying to develop a coherent observation.
This is such a hard topic to grapple with - it really gets down to what art means to our (capitalist) society, if art can have any meaning and value at all in such a society that transcends commodity. It's not a new struggle - the artists of the sixties and seventies tried to escape the trap of commodification of their art through locating them in remote locations (earthworks) or making them ephemeral (performance, conceptual art) and yet, as McCorkle points out, even these attempts were sucked back into the system through their documentation once the artist became known.

Sometimes, perhaps naively, I think that museums (especially public institutions) can partially transcend this by showing art in a location that isn't directly linked to buying and selling. Only, the system is so interdependent (museums depend on the gallery system for the most part in order to sift out the wheat from the chaff, as it were, and even public museums depend increasingly on the contributions of corporations and wealthy patrons to remain open) that to view museums as "pure" is ridiculous.

Art with a capital A has never been "pure", outside of the influence of one institution or another - from the Renaissance patron system, to the Church, and before that art either served religion (organized or not) or culture (as functional objects reflecting the beliefs of a society). But at the same time, the most interesting art in my view has always pushed at that influence, either with the wish to undermine it, critique it, or just expand its horizons.

Anyway, many many writers have dealt with this more coherently and eloquently than I could, but it's a question that remains on my mind.


At 11:53 AM, Blogger Scenic Artisan said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 11:54 AM, Blogger Scenic Artisan said...

interesting post.

what is it that you grapple with, exactly?

whats the question that remains on your mind?

whether or not art is a commodity? or why critics critique?

or if there can be purity in art?

At 2:32 PM, Blogger Amy said...

I guess one big question I grapple with is not if art is a commodity (it is) but what it means for art to be a commodity - does it become solely property to be bought or sold or can it transcend it's status as commodity?


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