Thursday, December 15, 2011

Art as Expression

Art is both beauty and expression. For the artist who wants to express beauty, it is not for the world to say, "Don't express it." Likewise, there is a place in art to express horror, despair, hideous things. Art exists ~ expression exists ~ outside of the monopoly of the institution, which would categorize it, label it, decide what will be hung, what will not be hung in a museum or gallery. Perhaps the museum of the 20th century made the mistake of scrambling to keep up with trends, to say, "We will not make the mistake of the past, we will not prostitute ourselves to that which is fashionable in art, thus ignoring the true artist." And yet, didn't they do just that? Falling all over themselves to promote only the harsh, only the odd, only the strange? To make a god of Dada? Museums are necessarily places for the viewing of the art of the past, the ideas of the past. Those ideas need a home. The world is slow to catch on, anyway. Art of even 100 years ago is still "modern." And always, comes one who will view it with new eyes. It is right that the museums collect what is done. The nature of galleries is that they will hang what is new, what is not yet vetted ~ each gallery having its own voice, its own slant, its own mishmash of styles. As always, it is the collector, the rare visionary, and the sieve of time and history that will decide what to bring forward into the centuries to come. The artist creates in order to express. For many if not most, that expression shall not be a commercial endeavor, that creation shall not be a "product." Such a difficulty it is for the artist to make a living... but then, why did the artist ever fall prey to the idea that art must necessarily be for the making of a living (or the making of a fortune)? And then let the galleries and museums say, "Do this," or "Do this," for, "This will sell"? Haven't artists simply fallen prey to the sway of the garish headline? "Picasso Sold for $4,000,000" it blares, and the poor artist, like Pavlov's dog,  responds... Art is to be expressed. If it must also be bought and sold, let that not be its only mission. If the gallery won't take your work, drop it off at the nearest Salvation Army. Let us not sell our souls with our art. That's all.

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