Eye of the beholder

What is art? I know it is difficult to determine exactly what art is, it is a subjective animal that changes every time we look at it. I like art, I went to art school, usually art history class was my time to catch up on sleep from partying the night before but it grew on me. I started to see movements and stylistic arcs that would fit into a timeline, coinciding with political and spiritual movements. Some were navigated by the rich, others by aesthetics, but most by were controlled by who was in power.

One thing that always interested me was the subject matter. You look at the Renaissance, a ton of paintings from this period were of Jesus, saints, the crucifixion, Madonna and child (the mother not the singer). This was because the church was the power centre, they had the money to paint all of the murals, churches and so on. Andy Warhol, with his celebrity based artwork which took people like Marilyn Monroe and created cultural archetypes was an interesting shift in the new media based world we live in. However you look at it the power has shifted from the church to the rich, the new cultural elite?!? The collectors now are still the rich and powerful and what art is, is determined by who buys. If there are only a few that can afford the work, do they determine what is popular? I feel art should be for the masses. This is my take, art can be subjective but I don’t care who you are, you know what you like. With music, it is pretty cut and dry and the success is driven by sales. But with everyone downloading everything these days sales are no longer a determining factor (or at least they shouldn’t be). I believe all musicians will go back to a patron based system like they had in the middle ages.

Patron definition: One that supports, protects, or champions someone or something, a sponsor or benefactor.

So it would be the Britney Spears tour brought to you by Huggies or Aerosmith’s new album brought to you by Pepsident. You can see the shift start to happen as all of these retail outlets that used to sell music and movies start to close down (just recently HMV and Blockbuster). So I believe the power is coming back to the people, so stand up and demand what we deserve, we have been gouged long enough. We need to pay what it’s worth and now we can be more selective. Of course pay the artists, but art should be available to everyone, whether it is a painting, a story, a song or whatever our species as a whole comes up with. Also download what you like but if you like an artist, support them. Go to their concerts or by a shirt, whatever, reward them for the work they have done that has inspired you. But if its shit, don’t pay for it. And there is a lot out there that is shit, but my shit might be your masterpiece. That is what I love about art, it speaks to us all differently. What makes a painting of a woman so popular, the Mona Lisa is not that impressive but it is behind bulletproof glass and there is always 7 people deep crowd around it at its home in the Louvre. But it is the enigma and the virtual value we ourselves have put on it. And on the flip side we have japanese billionaires that want to cremate themselves with paintings that by no right should be destroyed by the owners.

So in closing, we need to have more museums and places we can see art, I feel it is an important part of our cultural fabric and without it we are vanilla, bland, without substance. Leo Tolstoy said “Art is a microscope which the artist fixes on the secrets of his soul, and shows to people these secrets which are common to all.” but Herman Goering also said “When I hear someone talk of culture, I reach for my revolver”. So my challenge to you is, go out and see some artwork. Go to your local museum, make your own desicions on what you like. Your soul will thank you for it.

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