What do people think of the "fine art" world?

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I'm in my last year of a BFA (bachelor of fuck all?) and I was wondering if people here had any opinions (or questions) about the "fine art" world?

I'm a big Alex Grey fan - http://www.alexgrey.com/ - although I don't think any of my tutors are.

Alex Grey's work might be thought of as visually over the top; demonstrating a disregard or ignorance for the level of conceptual subtlety much of the fine art world has come to value.

In my experience, demonstrating sensitivity to conceptual subtleties in fine art often means attempting to please very esoteric tastes.

I also briefly did philosophy part time. Its similar to fine art with its vast offering of obscure ideas with obscure uses.

Sam G, Friday, 8 August 2008 13:44 (fifteen years ago) link

I had a teacher in art school, who gave a lecture on fine art vs. commercial art, the basic gist being that commercial art tends to be more emotionally expressive because you are trying to get the audience to identify and relate to the images in a way that conveys a message or point, as with fine art, the expression of the idea or even the idea itself is completely subjective to the viewer.

As far as my feelings towards the "fine art" world, I think its a lot of cleverness for cleverness sake with a few notable exceptions, and a SERIOUS lack of technical ability disguised as "abstraction"

Alex Grey in my mind falls more into the comercial art world, aside from the "edgy" subject matter, it seems that he approaches his work from and emotional place and a spiritual ehtos, whether or not the viewer agrees with it, I personally find some interesting things in his work. I think he also has some great techinical skill which is important, if your going to express something you need to be able to communicate clearly.

Peter definitely finds what I feel is a perfect balance between the two, clearly expessing the idea through superb technical execution, but still presenting ideas where the viewer has to work to see the ideas.

or maybe i sound like a jackass..

Voltero, Friday, 8 August 2008 19:06 (fifteen years ago) link

I'll try not to go on a rant about this, but since you ask--
The most ignominious comment I've ever received was at an animation festival where a gray-haired professor of animation from Prague, after seeing a sampling of Aeon Flux shorts, complimented me on the work, which he genuinely enjoyed. He then asked if I'd cite Roy Lichtenstein as an influence.

I lost control and yelled in his face, "that thief?!!!"
The poor (and pathetic) old man turned pale, turned around and didn't bother me again.

Seen on the front page of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation:

"The contents of this site are for personal and/or educational use only. Neither text nor photographs may be reproduced in any form without the permission of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation.

And apparently, they're serious.

Peter Chung, Friday, 8 August 2008 20:59 (fifteen years ago) link


Matt Rebholz, Saturday, 9 August 2008 02:51 (fifteen years ago) link

Artists like Lichtenstein and Warhol are credited with loosening up the fine art worlds perspective of art in pop culture (and in Lichtenstein's case, perhaps loosening up concerns of plagiarizing). They also added to the Duchampian trend of appropriating cultural artefact's with the typical purpose of destabilising notions of meaning and value (often cleverness for cleverness sake?).

I wonder if the fine art world has become rigidly preoccupied with destabilising things? (I like to view Alex Grey's work as a response to such activity)

Sam G, Sunday, 10 August 2008 08:06 (fifteen years ago) link

Please rant?!?! I love to read your tirades!

Voltero, Sunday, 10 August 2008 17:47 (fifteen years ago) link

and on a side note, I never realized that Lichtenstein's work was "found art"...holy crap

Voltero, Sunday, 10 August 2008 17:49 (fifteen years ago) link

Hey! I like lichtenstein. If you think of an art gallery as a primitive messageboard, lichtenstein is practically the inventor of LOLcats.


Philip Nunez, Monday, 11 August 2008 19:34 (fifteen years ago) link

From Wikipedia:

"When his work was first released, many art critics of the time challenged its originality. More often than not they were making no attempt to be positive. Lichtenstein responded to such claims by offering responses such as the following: "The closer my work is to the original, the more threatening and critical the content"." (Italics mine)

Threatening indeed. I don't buy the idea that challenging the status quo equals art -- you need to do more than that. (Peter's work is a good example, I think.) It's especially bad considering that he was ripping off his contemporaries, comic book artists who may not have been pleased with the results. One might argue that Lichtenstein's approach lets us see this "pulp art" in some kind of elevated light, but I think the artists themselves were talented enough to do that on their own, without the help of the "modern art" world.

Matt Rebholz, Monday, 11 August 2008 20:51 (fifteen years ago) link

@Philip: You're right though, that first frame does remind me a lot of stuff you'd see on 4chan. "Oh exploitable!" as they say.

Matt Rebholz, Monday, 11 August 2008 20:53 (fifteen years ago) link

Yeah, the fine art world mixes up with too much baloney for me. I am the old fashioned type, I like the art that takes talent to make. The great oils, the lovely marbles that come alive with muscles rippling, some of the 1800s art was fantastic.

But I wouldn't mind seeing an exhibit of Aeon Flux cels or paintings in an art museum. They could even include the fan art statue:) on your way in.

Barb e., Tuesday, 12 August 2008 17:46 (fifteen years ago) link

This is the kind of baloney I'm talking about:


I don't know how many of you have been to the Museum of Modern Art in NYC but they like to call themselves 'MOMA' as if they are 'MOM' and so have the right to determine for you the definition of art itself, ie their exhibits. I don't know what their true motivations are but I suspect hype and money.

Or maybe it is a conspiracy to devalue the human spirit as well, because without real art that is what you accomplish.

Barb e., Monday, 18 August 2008 13:35 (fifteen years ago) link

whether you call it art or not, i think this is pretty cool (sold at the moma store):

I don't think moma is unique or pioneering in the imposition of money/hype into art.

I'm not sure I understand the beef over "fine arts" -- it's something that's almost totally absent from most people's radar -- if a few tax dollars are thrown its way, so what? It doesn't intrude on anyone nearly on the level of say... miley cyrus. I guess Christo might come close...?

Is this different for people who work in the field? Is "fine arts" the Paris Hilton for cartoonists/animators?

Philip Nunez, Tuesday, 19 August 2008 21:12 (fifteen years ago) link

I've noticed that many painters who have a homepage are very reluctant to publish their paintings in high resolution availible for download.

Do these idiots honestly think that because I can download one of their paintings and have it as wallpaper they will sell less paintings? Or is it because they are so misguided as to think that paintings needs to be framed and put on a fancy wall in a fancy house for it to be "art"? Is my desktop not worthy?

nalle, Thursday, 21 August 2008 21:09 (fifteen years ago) link

I think "pop surrealism" is the Paris hilton of the art world..

Voltero, Friday, 22 August 2008 21:55 (fifteen years ago) link

More than ever, the technical production of artworks can be found to demonstrate a small, or not so important portion of many artists talents. As far as much of the fine art world is concerned, the artistry is more crucially involved in how artworks engage with their contexts (culture, art world etc).

At a basic level this can mean things like being sensitive about how each artwork an artist makes functions as a context for prior or previous artworks. For example, people might be more inclined to believe in an an artists sincerity if they see the artist has done so much work that they must have enjoyed it. Or if an artist exhibits abstract sculptures when they had previously shown portraits, that may generate a sense of surprise and dynamic that merits more praise than either exhibit would have alone. These are pretty base examples, but they show how appreciation for an artists work can quickly go beyond what any one artwork contains in and of itself.

For many fine artists, the context beyond an artwork is part of the artwork, so contextual sensitivity is often highly important. The concern is to produce art works that do interesting things with their contexts.

For example, putting something common place (Soup can pictures, a urinal, etc) in an art gallery where only "special" things were supposed to be displayed challenged cultural boundaries, creating a dynamic and engaging relationship between artwork and context.

Its as though the 'context' is the artwork and the artist creates work to develop the context in some way. Of course, any artwork fundamentally interacts with the outside world, and various great historic painters have contributed significantly to the development of the art worlds context just as have the more conceptual likes of Duchamp or Warhol. But artists like Duchamp and Warhol have helped get the ball rolling towards a lot of insular and esoteric conversations between artworks in the fine art world.

I like the Paris Hilton comparison to fine artists because she's a good example of someone who can only be so successful within the right context. A great deal of fine art is just like that.

Sam G, Saturday, 23 August 2008 06:14 (fifteen years ago) link

I like the Paris Hilton comparison to fine artists because she's a good example of someone who can only be so successful within the right context. A great deal of fine art is just like that.

So is this good or bad in your view?

nalle, Saturday, 23 August 2008 15:33 (fifteen years ago) link

I'm pretty ambivalent. I suppose a lot of open mindedness and sensitivity is being encouraged when the Tate modern exhibits a heater.

The fine art world has opened up very interesting creative territories, and its obviously decided to revel in them for a while. But all this preoccupation with conceptual innovation has detracted from things like atmosphere and emotional depth. Maybe sometimes its like Barb said, maybe there is some devaluing of human spirit occurring.

Sam G, Sunday, 24 August 2008 02:15 (fifteen years ago) link

Just like rap.

Kerm, Sunday, 24 August 2008 02:46 (fifteen years ago) link

While I love rap, I'd have to interject that there's little preoccupation with any innovation, conceptual or otherwise, right now. I think most of the underground peeps and the big artists would love to have the clock turned back 10 years right now.

To contribute to the above conversation, everyone's made some valid points. But I also think that a lot of us are giving the work a bit too much context - at the time when Duchamp and Warhol came about, the kneejerk response and ensuing critical discourse was what they wanted (obv). I think we're somewhat past the time for that conversation, though. By either subconciously or consciously taking into account post-Duchamp modern art (at least the kind we're talking about), the frame of reference for the debate that they and contemporaries wanted is shifted and different. I think it's difficult, even impossible, to have that conversation after we've had Lichtenstein, Nagel, Koons, and the thousands of bullshit and legit artists that have followed in their paths. I think both the original artists and their critics on both sides of the debate would have wanted something new by now. I guess my point is that it's less important at this time to bring Warhol and Duchamp into the debate than it is to try to find something new and interesting (as Peter aims to do) or to trash people like Tony Rosenthal (like I enjoy doing. "CUBES!" "ACCUMULATIONS!" Not to devolve into the "Pollock's paint splatters? EVEN I could do that" mindset, but seriously. Circles, lines, and piles of stuff. Even I could do that.)

I think either way - whether you still think Warhol is trash or you still enjoy their play with artful context - they're laughing at us and giving us the thumbs up from their graves.

And I concur - Lichtenstein is a fuck.

skygreenleopard, Monday, 25 August 2008 08:00 (fifteen years ago) link

Wow, I just realized you're THAT Peter Chung. I tip my hat.

skygreenleopard, Monday, 25 August 2008 08:09 (fifteen years ago) link

Hehe, what other Peter Chung would it be in a place like this?

Matt Rebholz, Tuesday, 26 August 2008 00:49 (fifteen years ago) link

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