Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Shallow End

I got to thinking, if in our current age is so shallow, has there been other shallow periods in time? Well that answer is a resounding, YES. The Roman Empire had several period of great shallowness. The French Rococo period was shallow city. One of the great painters of the Rococo, the Jeff Koons of his age, is Jean-Honore Fragonard (1732-1806) made plenty of paintings with a wink and a nudge. The French Rococo was all about giving what the collectors wanted, i.e. sex, powerful portraits, and more sex. Don't get me wrong, the work is beautiful and not Everything that came out of that period reflects those ideas, but a Lot of the work was tailor made for the idol rich. Shallow customers = shallow art.
So, if the problem is the tastes of the collectors driving the tastes of the museums, then how do we create non-shallow collectors? You have to appeal to their non-shallow side, because I can assure you everyone has that side. For example, the Neo-Classical art romanticized about Republics, Democracy and Egalitarianism. (Two out of three is not bad). Those collectors believed in something greater than themselves and it reflected in what they bought and the artists they promoted. How do you appeal to the non-shallow side of the current collectors? I don't have an answer, but I am willing to listen to some ideas.

1 comment:

Troy Camplin said...

How about nonshallow critics? Let's be honest, the majority of art collectors -- especially nowadays -- don't really understand what it is they are buying. They buy what they are told is important or significant. The critics are the ones who determine that. The collectors pay attention to what the critics say about art, and buy accordingly.

In other words, we need to educate the public about art. We need to educate them about meaning and value in art. THe postmodernists are out there promoting artists left and right, and those against postmodernism are simply criticizing, when they need to give positive examples of what it is they support.

Not long ago someone said something to me that really gets at what the real problem is with the arts in general: we have either lowbrow or highbrow art, but no middlebrow art -- like Shakespeare or Mozart or Michaelangelo. Shakespeare had high wit and dirty jokes, as did Mozart. Michaelangelo was commissioned to make works that would inspire churchgoers, but also impress the Pope and the Cardinals. Where is all the middlebrow art?