Pearls from artists * # 20December 26, 2012
* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
If, indeed, for any given time only a certain sort of work resonates with life, then that is the work you need to be doing in that moment. If you try to do some other work, you will miss your moment. Indeed, our own work is so inextricably tied to time and place that we cannot recapture even our own aesthetic ground of past times. Try, if you can, to reoccupy your own aesthetic space of a few years back, or even a few months. There is no way. You can only plunge ahead, even when that carries with it the bittersweet realization that you have already done your best work.
This heightened self-consciousness was rarely an issue in earlier times when it seemed self-evident that the artist (and everyone else, for that matter) had roots deeply intertwining their culture. Meanings and distinctions embodied within artworks were part of the fabric of everyday life, and the distance from art issues to all other issues was small. The whole population counted as audience when artists’ work encompassed everything from icons for the Church to utensils for the home. In the Greek amphitheater twenty-two hundred years ago, the plays of Euripides were performed as contemporary theater before an audience of fourteen thousand. Not so today.
Today art issues have for the most part become solely the concern of artists, divorced from – and ignored by – the larger community. Today artists often back away from engaging the times and places of their life, choosing instead the largely intellectual challenge of engaging the times and places of Art. But it’s an artificial construct that begins and ends at the gallery door. Apart from the readership of Artforum, remarkably few people lose sleep trying to incorporate gender-neutral biomorphic deconstructivism into their personal lives. As Adam Gopnik remarked in The New Yorker, “Post-modernist art is, above all, post-audience art.”
David Bayles & Ted Orland, Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards)of Artmaking
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