Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Enlightenment

Life feels like a trudge at the moment. I feel that my type of art is unpopular, time consuming, painstaking detailed surrealism is just totally out of fashion. I feel that people haven't really got the time to understand art, that people want something quick, snappy, pretty, instant gratification. I was reminded of Rothko, who painted landscapes (and surrealism) for decades before a short stint as an abstract artist; that stint he became famous for.

Looking at contemporary art these days there is some good creative stuff. There are well painted flowers/kittens/pretty girls/jars of sweets and things for people who would be equally as happy with a photograph, yet like the idea of something hand crafted. Those pictures are too stupid and twee for up-market galleries, so those galleries seem to show abstract art, which is often just as meaningless, and bought by decorators, designers, and people who like the look or colours for their home because it's seen as more intelligent than the twee flowers and pretty girls.

Somewhere in there, there is proper art, that is art that has a meaning and convey what the artist was feeling and thinking at the time. Odd that there's so little of this around, but yes, there is some.

I'm reminded while reading about Haydn and Beethoven that the French Revolution and The Enlightenment guided their art tremendously, the idea the art can unify humanity, and can guide and improve civilisation. National anthems appeared at this time, and public education included songs because music was seen as a unifying force for good. What an unfashionable idea that is?! That art can improve humanity.

To a modern businessman, art is a commodity that can sell as decoration, or for a curious "high end" of art, become an investment. The a modern government art can regenerate slum areas to a degree, but generally has little use. To an artist art is the world. To most people it's a mix of those things, but in the form of music or films, can be entertaining.

But these days, outside of museums and history books, art is never great, never guiding for humanity, not transformative or inspiring or uplifting, or joyous. History painting, those great scenes of battles, old heroes and events, hasn't been popular in a century. Nobody paints history paintings now, yet at one time it was considered the highest of all genres.

So, sword in hand, or brush, I'll make a history painting, well, of sorts, a totally uncommercial weird piece of wood and sand and gold and black blood that nobody would like at this time, that no designer would commission and no investor would gap at, a modern relic called Tony Blair's Soul. It's a start.

Come, artists. Make history art!

1 comment :

John Salmon said...

I think you are right.