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Old 02-25-2018, 11:46 PM
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renzo98112 renzo98112 is offline
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Are the Visual Arts more than Decoration?

I watched a BBC video entitled.
" Who's Afraid of Conceptual Art?"
The narrator says, in defense of the 'concept' part of conceptual art:
'Art without ideas is just decoration, isn't it ?”

I assume the point was that the visual arts: painting, drawing sculpture etc.
were what was meant by art without ideas...as opposed to conceptual art which is art WITH ideas.

Is all visual art JUST decoration?
If the work of Matisse, Cézanne and Morandi is NOT mere decoration, what are the qualities that raise it above mere decoration?
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Old 02-26-2018, 12:19 AM
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caldwell.brobeck caldwell.brobeck is offline
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Re: Are the Visual Arts more than Decoration?

I haven’t seen the programme, so I can’t address it directly. But it seems to me there is a tendency among conceptual art theorists to only consider ideas as proper if they can be stated in words. So they tend to miss the point about what ideas are in art.
Cheers,
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Old 02-26-2018, 10:12 AM
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Re: Are the Visual Arts more than Decoration?

I think there is art that IS just decoration, and there is art that IS NOT just decoration. People who do art now often do not realize that art was not something that everyday people could engage in. Most people in the past were hard at work trying to get food and shelter so they would not die. That is how they spent most of their time. Those who had a little leisure time (the rich usually) were able to do a little "decorative work" for their houses, or for the Ladies Club or whatever. Real art was an actual field of study, not just a situation where you read a few books and paint on sawblades and then hang out your shingle as an artist.
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Old 02-26-2018, 01:11 PM
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Re: Are the Visual Arts more than Decoration?

Thanks.

I was hoping to get a response to this essential question:

If the work of Matisse, Cézanne and Morandi is NOT mere decoration, what are the qualities that raise it above mere decoration?

It is a difficult question, I know.
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Old 02-26-2018, 01:28 PM
BeLing BeLing is offline
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Re: Are the Visual Arts more than Decoration?

Of course it's not JUST decoration.

But don't think all these Conceptual Art pieces, usually shown as an installation or event, are particularly indicative of "deep thinking"---to me, a lot of them are gimmicks, meaning, a single act or idea, done in a compulsive way --- over and over and over, or simply enlarging things to ridiculous sizes.

The question always seems to end up, What Is Art? The answer today is, Everything. So I think the question now seems to be, what is it about Art, without the answer being, everything.

But just having an "idea" isn't quite enough.
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Old 02-26-2018, 01:36 PM
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Re: Are the Visual Arts more than Decoration?

I found it on youtube, for anyone interested, it's here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XMsAFi5htzE

I've stopped at around 16 minutes and doubt I'm going back, I found the presentation tiresomely BBC cute. But just before I canned it, and having waded through an interview with Martin Creed, right up on the screen is the sentence "Words can be more meaningful than images". Yawn. It seems to be the mantra of people who never learned to look, never learned to draw, never learned to colour, never learned of the long conversation that is art, but still want to present themselves as artists.

W/r to the OP and the question of ideas in art, and what is decorative, and what is more than that - that's often up to the viewer as an individual decision. (FWIW, I look at conceptual art as neither, it's merely distraction for the lazy and stupid). You come across this question a lot, for example, when people import work from a foreign culture because it's "pretty" or "interesting", while in it's original culture the object carries religious or spiritual significance. Understanding a work of art often means trying to get yourself out of one's own little perceptual cell and coming to terms with another's perspective.

And if you want to discover what meaning there might be in a Matisse, for example, you have to first ask what to you is "meaning". Is it only thoughts that can be expressed in words? Or is there something more? I look at meaning of an object as all the associations one makes with it, so if you want a sense of what meaning Matisse was trying to express, one should not only look at his art, but at his life, and at his cultural context. Listen to the music he was attracted to; he was significantly influenced by it. Look at the other artists he was engaged with. Learn about the effects of WWI on French society and culture, that sort of thing.

Cheers;
Chris
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Old 02-26-2018, 11:43 PM
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Re: Are the Visual Arts more than Decoration?

Thank you all for your well considered responses.

I used to take school groups through a local museum. I would point out to them that in the course of a single day they saw hundreds of images...in magazines, online, in advertisements. Just a stroll through a supermarket meant viewing many dozens of images. I said that perhaps they had become desensitized to the pictures they saw. What makes a painting that is hanging on the wall of a museum worthy of special focus? What makes it stand apart from any of the other pictures they saw each day?

Then I heard that quotation from the guy in the video who said that if it wasn't conceptual art ie. art based on an idea then it was no more than
decoration. And I had to ask myself if what he said was true or not! And if it was not true, why wasn't it?
What is the raison d'etre of Manet's flowers? or Seurat's Grand Jatte?
There are paintings that have a message: The Raft of the Medusa, Guernica etc.but a landscape or a still life or a portrait?
How do I argue that they have more to recommend them than their decorative properties ?
Underlying my question is the suspicion that only someone who is engaged in painting can offer a worthy answer.
So I ask it here.
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Old 02-27-2018, 01:03 AM
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Re: Are the Visual Arts more than Decoration?

I think viewing a great work of art opens one to the beingness of the artist, and by doing so opens oneself up to one’s own beingness, thereby suspending exisistenrial isolation and heightening one’s sense of being alive. It’s sort of like falling in love.
Cheers,
Chris
Ps. If you are looking for formulae, I doubt you’ll find them. See Nietzsche’s The Gay Science, §373. I’ve put it on my own blog, here:
http://halifaxcb.blogspot.ca/p/nietz...y-science.html
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The primary palette: Attention, observation, memory, imagination, execution

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Old 02-27-2018, 11:22 AM
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Re: Are the Visual Arts more than Decoration?

I am in grad school (again) and am presently taking a class on Literary Criticism. I am not too far along, but have been paralleling literary criticism to art criticism, as both seem to have parallel "periods" reflecting the zeitgeist of time and place. You will find that each period, each school of criticism works on a different, and often reactionary level of (literature in this case) or art. We happen to be in a period of postmodernism, which is a period in which "anything goes." Yes, in a sense you might consider it lazy, but it can also be considered inclusive and egalitarian. It is quite okay to work within a critical school which is not the present postmodern period. It does not make you less of an artist, it just means you are out of the loop when it comes to what is recent in academia. (Frankly, MOMA et.al. and all the rest are of a certain "school" and most artists do not fit into it). I quit art school back then (somewhere in minimalism because it did not fit my ideas of art, and I basically thought it was a kind of intellectual laziness (as caldwell.brobeck so eloquently states). Personally, I like those Santa Fe western art galleries, and they would never be acceptable to the more modern schools of art, though somehow they are worshipped like the golden calf by collectors.
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Old 02-27-2018, 01:44 PM
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Re: Are the Visual Arts more than Decoration?

Art without the maker having some sense of connection with the subject is just decoration. There are two arguments going on in this thread and obviously two ideas about the meaning of the very word -Art.

Art is what artists do and what an artist does is express their feelings in the making. What some painters (sculptors, flower arrangers, furniture makers, builders, dancers, cooks ...) do is a job. Produce something into which they invested nothing of themselves.

Now the viewer may not see the effort or inspiration behind what hangs on wall or borders the street. This does not make what the artist does any less a piece of art. I do not like much 'western' art in the style the Sante Fe artists produce but that in no way qualifies me to claim they are not artists. I find the works of Rothko and Pollock deeply moving and the pre-raphaelites dull - but this gives me no licence to label one group artists and the other not.

I will express some distaste when I see badly designed and mass produced works such as those of the western 'classicists' who so decried the impressionists when their own work was derivative. Let's not confuse our own prejudice with truth
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Old 02-27-2018, 01:50 PM
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Re: Are the Visual Arts more than Decoration?

[quote=renzo98112]. . . if it wasn't conceptual art ie. art based on an idea then it was no more than decoration.
And I had to ask myself if what he said was true or not! And if it was not true, why wasn't it? . . .
QUOTE]

It's obvious to ME that it's not true. Ideas, to me, are intellectual. Literature has to have ideas; poetry, though, seems to be in a class of its own.

The visual arts can be, and often are, results of feelings. Things you can't verbalize, or even think about in an intellectual way. To the visual arts belong the mysteries of . . . higher powers?. . . rhythms of relationships?
What Roger Fry (early 1900's) called the imaginative life. You might like his "An Essay In Aesthetics".

Indeed, I think it would be hard to explain this to young students, who will tend to see only what is represented in a literal way (at least, that's how I was). It took me a long time to discover a good painting wasn't about the subject depicted, it's about the "thing itself." The more realistic (photographic) an image is, the harder it is to see it as anything but a copy of any idea, or decorative.
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Old 02-27-2018, 08:04 PM
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Re: Are the Visual Arts more than Decoration?

I figure calling something decoration is a passive-aggressive way of saying my art (or our art) is more legitimate than your art. We are artists and you are a hack-- something like that. Every generation has done it. They did not let the impressionists into the salon because they were amateurs who knew nothing about art. They couldn't even use paint in a conventional way!Goodness. It is almost like the biggest insult that art can give an artist is that your stuff is no good because it is in a middle-class living room rather in a millionaire's chateau. Mear decoration above a couch, etcetera. Makes one laugh.
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Old 02-28-2018, 11:14 AM
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Re: Are the Visual Arts more than Decoration?

As long as people believe there is something more to life than pleasure , purely decorative art (particularly of the faddish or couch matching sort) is going to be seen as a lesser form. Why shouldn't it be? I have nothing against eating the occasional candy bar, but I wouldn't make such an integral part of my diet.
Cheers;
Chris
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I suppose I have to do this too (my blog, & current work). My Visual Arts Nova Scotia page.
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Old 02-28-2018, 12:26 PM
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Re: Are the Visual Arts more than Decoration?

As part of my role as gallery guide to school groups, I was introduced to a process called Visual Thinking Strategies.
Here is a link to a short video that explains how it works:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKb4uuRAymM

I think that people often pass by paintings in a museum as if they were leafing through a magazine, seeing each painting as just another picture.
That is how I approached art works before I began to paint, myself.I thought that a picture either told a little cryptic story or was decoration.

When I heard the man in the video " Who's Afraid of Conceptual Art " say that
the Visual Arts ( painting, drawing etc.) were just decoration, I said to myself, " He thinks that because there is something he doesn't know about art".

But I couldn't put my finger on just what it was that he didn't know.

I came upon this list of observations that school children had about viewing art before and after experiencing Visual Thinking Strategies:

I used to think…..
I thought when you looked at a painting or a sculpture, what you saw was the whole picture and nothing was the center of interest or thought provoking -
I used to think there wasn’t a lot to say about art.
I used to think that art had no point or meaning.
I used to think art wasn’t exciting and I didn’t think that it stood out to people’s eyes.
They were just pictures, had no hidden meaning, no hidden secrets, nothing more than paint.
Music and pictures, I never looked deeper into it, to see the message
I used to not pay attention to detail and the mood of the artwork or music. I would look
at the artwork superficially, only paying attention to what was right in front of my face such as the color.
I never delved deeper into what the artist was trying to get across
I used to think that art was just for people who were good at it.
Art was only from a long time ago.
The artists had to be the best of the best

Now I think
Art can have many questions in it
Art can tell a story, or set a mood, or even let you figure out what it’s telling you!
Art is very complex and there are a lot of observations you can make and there are a lot of view points in art
Now I try to look at small details and things that don’t and do stand out
Now I think art has lots of meanings
Now in class when we look at art…we think more specifically and really discover what this artwork makes us feel and want to know and learn.
Now I think that every picture has a message, a meaning that exists within the pictures.
You just have to take the time to find it…
It’s not just a picture it’s a symbol for something more.

If a person thinks a work of art is just another picture or decoration, he is like an uneducated child.

I wish more people could be opened up to the value of the visual arts !

Thanks for all of your replies !!
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Old 03-02-2018, 01:44 PM
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Re: Are the Visual Arts more than Decoration?

Quote:
Who's Afraid of Conceptual Art?

Art is the greatest concept…
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