Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Who owns the art?

An excellent article in the Wall Street Journal about art ownership, preservation, and the conflicts that can arise between the artist and the purchaser of art.

I think these sorts of conflicts affect those whose art is more in the realm of "untraditional" - i.e. installation artists, sculptors who employ lots of found object, and so on. But even straight painters deal with this stuff from time to time. Having had at least one mural destroyed (I will never paint another mural again, by the way), I can sympathize with some of the concerns in this article. It can happen to anyone, including great and famous artists (such as Diego Rivera, for example).

Friday, August 27, 2010

Time Management

We artists have to be excellent time managers, mainly because most of us pursue our craft as a side job. After working at the "day job", most people go home and veg out. But the artist can do no such thing. He must work on his a little bit craft every day, so he has to come up with a strict schedule and routine to make this happen. This is the case with all serious artists I think. Andy Warhol was known for following a very rigid daily schedule and working well into early evening. As responsibilities multiply, the need for making and following a schedule, and thinking through the artistic process, becomes even more critical. The ultimate game-changer as far as scheduling goes is having children.

We just had our first child and this throws a wrench - a good one! - in everything. Something similar happened when I got married and lost my art studio in Baltimore City a number of years ago. I could not paint in oils in our small apartment, so that was when I got into egg tempera and exploring iconography. Eventually I got back into painting in oils as I found space and my wife and I worked out our schedules. For right now I am still trying to adjust to life with a baby. I cannot bring him up to the studio with me because I am concerned about fumes, so I have to stretch canvases one day, prime them another, do sketches another, paint another, and so on.... all of this around my work and home schedule. I have to paint only when I know I will have a serious block of time available. I have to decide what medium is best to use considering these limitations.... e.g. this may be the time to do some more icons as I can work on them downstairs in the house and there are no toxic fumes.

All of this is to say that, contrary to popular belief, the artistic process has to be very rational, orderly, and well-thought out in order to be successful. An artist has to adapt to the circumstances, such as studio space, time limitations, financial limitations, success, etc. if he wants to even begin to have success.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Modern Art

While I appreciate the rediscovery and appreciation of traditional forms and approaches to art that are out there today with regard to sacred art I am somewhat troubled by the underlying message of some of the proponents of this type of art: namely that neo-Baroque, or neo-classical art and techniques are the best, and that anything modern or abstract is somehow lacking or unsuitable for sacred applications. Some of the greatest sacred art in the western world is in fact very abstract... abstract in the sense of not being representational but not realistic. The flat picture plane of many a painting by Fra Angelico, and the strange perspective of the works of Duccio have much in common stylistically with 20th century masters such as Ben Shahn. Those who think that traditional liturgical or sacred art must be neo-Baroque or neo-Classical are mistaken. The reality is that "modern" art can be used in any liturgical context and blend right in, as in this video of a Carmelite Mass... notice the very modernistic and abstract reredos behind the altar.