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Pretentious art writing

Discussion in 'Fine Living, Home, Design & Auto' started by Kent Wang, Mar 28, 2009.

  1. Trapp

    Trapp Senior member

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    Her aim was to create a painting that emphasized its frontal plane in a way that would echo the wall behind it, suggesting the architectural character of the painting's shape.

    Where in the original text is the writer claiming to know or represent what the artist thinks?

    The quote above is the closest I can find. Granted, it might be safer for the writer to say "Here she created a painting that emphasized..." (or what have you) rather than claim it as the artist's aim. But this could be a valid statement, taken from something the artist herself has said, written, or otherwise expressed (perhaps in an interview). Artists are often asked that question and they often answer it. Myself, I don't know. I'm not familiar with the artist. And if this were an academic paper, or part of a longer feature, I'd expect both expansion and the support of reference notation (referencing an interview, for example.) But the claims are benign, even conservative, and if I understand the OP, this is just a panel of text appearing near the painting--a blurb for context. I don't see (or sense) pretension in it.

    Everyone has their own bullshit detector, though, and it's wise to listen when it rings.
     


  2. Trapp

    Trapp Senior member

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  3. Stazy

    Stazy Senior member

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    How does one get a job writing these descriptions? I think I would be quite good at it.
     


  4. merkur

    merkur Senior member

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    ..
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2011


  5. Kent Wang

    Kent Wang Affiliate Vendor Dubiously Honored Affiliate Vendor

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    But the claims are benign, even conservative, and if I understand the OP, this is just a panel of text appearing near the painting--a blurb for context. I don't see (or sense) pretension in it.

    Everyone has their own bullshit detector, though, and it's wise to listen when it rings.

    No, not pretentious in the sense that the writer is not actually good at writing about art. Maybe pretense is not the best word; how about just bullshit? Then again, passing off bullshit as something legitimate and intellectual sounds pretty pretentious to me.

    The paintings as posted by the OP (since we're viewing them at a size of approx. 2x2 inches) are probably not a fair representation of the actual work.
    Trust me, they are. You're not missing out on any details seeing it in real life.
     


  6. tagutcow

    tagutcow Senior member

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    I think there's a dynamic quality to the brushwork that, combined with the fluid composition, creates an almost Kandynski-like emotional resonance.

    Western art has traditionally defined itself by the frame-- the imaginary border that exists between surface and text. Within the frame lies the illusory promise of natural, unproblematical reading-- an artistic expression that can be considered self-contained, and discrete, separate from the viewer. This binarism, of course, bears the trace of the traditional Western metaphysic of self and other.

    Jo Baer's vertical diptych Horizontals Tiered problematizes this binary. The visual emphasis lies, not in the "content" of the art, but rather in the rectilinear black forms of the frames, against which they stand in stark relief. Indeed, what is framed here is the act of framing itself. Just as the frame is foregrounded visually, so too is the viewer's collusion with the artist in arbitrating this border foregrounded conceptually.
     


  7. Philosoph

    Philosoph Senior member

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    Does hating the pretentions of modern art make me pretentious?
     


  8. otc

    otc Senior member

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    Having never actually taken a painting class (the at class I was in last spring liked to focus in the wishy washy "artistic" elements while ignoring the fact that the entire class had zero technical instruction), I have to wonder... How'd you get such straight lines in the mondrian knockoff? It looks great. I can never get my lines that straight/even. and just to throw it out, here is a mondrian knockoff I did for the aforementioned class (the assignment here was something along the lines of appropriating a style into another medium). [​IMG] Its painted on panes of glass with each color on a separate pane. Has some cool visual effects since from angles you can see between the black lines and the colors but could defiantely use some refinement if I were to try again
     


  9. Trapp

    Trapp Senior member

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    Does hating the pretentions of modern art make me pretentious?

    Not at all. Hating pretentions that appear anywhere is both honest and healthy.

    Is all modern art pretentious?
     


  10. A Y

    A Y Senior member

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    On the one hand, writing about art is futile: if the art is any good, then it's expressing something that only that medium can express, so you can't really describe the artwork very well using writing. On the other hand, art criticism and writing can be great guides to a piece. They can place a piece of artwork in context by pointing to other pieces that may be related to or reveals something about it. Where some art may seem arbitrary or even random, an art writer can help explain why it may be the way it is, but it's not necessarily done by trying to find the meaning of the piece, or reading the mind of the artist.

    BTW, the artist's intention is severely overrated and often irrelevant for any piece of art.

    --Andre
     


  11. Kent Wang

    Kent Wang Affiliate Vendor Dubiously Honored Affiliate Vendor

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    Western art has traditionally defined itself by the frame-- the imaginary border that exists between surface and text. Within the frame lies the illusory promise of natural, unproblematical reading-- an artistic expression that can be considered self-contained, and discrete, separate from the viewer. This binarism, of course, bears the trace of the traditional Western metaphysic of self and other.

    Jo Baer's vertical diptych Horizontals Tiered problematizes this binary. The visual emphasis lies, not in the "content" of the art, but rather in the rectilinear black forms of the frames, against which they stand in stark relief. Indeed, what is framed here is the act of framing itself. Just as the frame is foregrounded visually, so too is the viewer's collusion with the artist in arbitrating this border foregrounded conceptually.

    This is good, but you failed to use the essential phrase "challenges the viewer".

    How'd you get such straight lines in the mondrian knockoff? It looks great.
    I used tape and spraypaint. How'd you do yours? It looks pretty cool, though I've seen it done by someone else before.

    On the one hand, writing about art is futile: if the art is any good, then it's expressing something that only that medium can express, so you can't really describe the artwork very well using writing. On the other hand, art criticism and writing can be great guides to a piece. They can place a piece of artwork in context by pointing to other pieces that may be related to or reveals something about it. Where some art may seem arbitrary or even random, an art writer can help explain why it may be the way it is, but it's not necessarily done by trying to find the meaning of the piece, or reading the mind of the artist.
    Yes, writing can be helpful, but then there's just bullshit. For the Baer work, this phrase is the most bullshit:

    Indeed, the work echoes its own edges with its two interior border markings, and even replicates itself in two panels, yet it denies any allusion to a window, the conventional association that has accompanied the framed panel or canvas since Renaissance times.​

    How does it deny any allusion to a window? Who would even allude that it is a window? I challenge the assertion that the window is the "conventional association that has accompanied the framed panel or canvas".

    The reference to "Renaissance times" seems both out of place and downright inaccurate: if indeed the window has been the "conventional association", why did that start only in the Renaissance? Wouldn't it be associated with pictures since the dawn of painting or framing?
     


  12. Huntsman

    Huntsman Senior member

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    Where in the original text is the writer claiming to know or represent what the artist thinks? The quote above is the closest I can find. Granted, it might be safer for the writer to say "Here she created a painting that emphasized..." (or what have you) rather than claim it as the artist's aim. But this could be a valid statement, taken from something the artist herself has said, written, or otherwise expressed (perhaps in an interview). Artists are often asked that question and they often answer it. Myself, I don't know. I'm not familiar with the artist. And if this were an academic paper, or part of a longer feature, I'd expect both expansion and the support of reference notation (referencing an interview, for example.) But the claims are benign, even conservative, and if I understand the OP, this is just a panel of text appearing near the painting--a blurb for context. I don't see (or sense) pretension in it. Everyone has their own bullshit detector, though, and it's wise to listen when it rings.
    As you mention, it needs to be longer for the context in which to judge the writer's basis. To me though, the phrases beginning with "she was committed," "Her interest," and "her aim" all smack of that representation. I am being hard on the piece -- it is a result of the one constant sadness that criticism holds: it presumes, from a position of authority, to say that this is what the artist meant, or this is what this piece means. And though this may not always be the case, the reality that it is not the case has been constantly pushed aside, slowly, to the point that this understanding is now mostly gone. Further it seems so challenging for critics (of most any medium) to acknowledge that there are at least three fundamental meanings of any work: 1) What it is (objectively, or as near as we can get) 2) What the artist intended it to be 3) What the critic thinks it is ~ H
     


  13. Philosoph

    Philosoph Senior member

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    I'm with Andre and Huntsman.

    1) What it is (objectively, or as near as we can get)
    2) What the artist intended it to be
    3) What the critic thinks it is~ H


    One of my main problems with modern art is that, in my opinion, it makes hugely exaggerated claims about 2 and 3 which are not at all supported by 1. But maybe I'm just shackled by the talons of propriety.
     


  14. johnapril

    johnapril Senior member

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    I love good literary criticism, not so much because the writing is something that I agree with, but because when I read criticism of an author I adore, I receive a feeling akin to what I felt as a child collecting baseball cards.
     


  15. designprofessor

    designprofessor Senior member

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    While I agree that the writing can be over the top, it is usually requested by galleries /patrons. So the artists writes a statement. It is equally frustrating when the statements are taken for granted or neglected all together. Yes, the work could and should speak for itself -but -
    Also bear in mind 4+ years of art school will get you talking and thinking this way. (not saying that is good, just shop talk)
    Pretentious , yes at times, but listening to just about any specialist can have this complaint.

    Wang, yours read rather well I thought[​IMG]

    Writing I do like? Robert Hughes and Peter Schjeldahl
     


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