Maybe (with regards to my last post) we shouldn’t be concerned about the fact that art is decoration for the rich. It seems, on a fundamental level, art has always functioned in this way (works for the church, portraits for the bourgeois and so on). And honestly I’m not as concerned with the fact that art makes a wall or space more aesthetically appealing.
I think what is more important, maybe a “problem” with contemporary art I can identify, is the fact that it is sensational. Hirst with his sharks and animal parts in formaldehyde, Serra and his massive pieces of steel looming over you, or Kapoor with his gargantuan red or metallic structures—these are some of the biggest art brands of the contemporary market, and they all function within the realm of sensationalism.
I liken it to a Hollywood movie. Action packed with all the bells and whistles. Hits you over the head sort of experience. This is where I could identify a space where contemporary art jives with contemporary culture maybe a bit to seamlessly.
But lets not throw the baby out with the bath water. Just because the rich want to support the arts isn’t a tell tale of a sell out (I mean, somebody needs to support art!). And maybe they aren’t buying art because its beautiful—maybe it’s our culture’s response to sensationalism that is racking up record numbers in the market, and making so many of us cynical about contemporary art.
So my call is this. Don’t make sensational art. Let’s face it—we’ll never be more sensational than Hirst—and I believe the critical capacity of this type of art is nearly (if not already) spent. A critical departure from sensationalism is subtlety. Don’t give the masses what they want—leave that for the movies. I’m calling for art that requires the viewer to look—to spend time to see why the work is important/powerful/moving. To make art that reminds the viewer what it means to look at something differently/more discerningly/ more critically.
But please, make it beautiful—in a subtle way, of course.