At some point, both artists and collectors are faced with the tidal wave of trend. FASHION is alluring but fickle. STYLE innate and enduring. Decisions need to be made. Experimentation brings clarity. Clarity brings commitment and commitment, MASTERY. The strongest collections (or oeuvres) communicate a SINGULARITY of vision.
Collecting contemporary art in particular poses a bit of a CONUNDRUM. Many high profile artists have rejected traditional notions of BEAUTY in favor of ORIGINALITY. Ambitious young artists have followed. The thing is that after 40,000 years of homo sapiens expressing their creativity, true originality is rare. Instead we art lovers are faced with a barrage of “ugly” works that are incredibly self referential and hard to access. Dangling electrical cords meant to evoke emotional suffering, unmade beds to remind us of random sexual escapades, various animals floating in formaldehyde, add clever idea here.
Thanks to Marcel Duchamp, who famously submitted a urinal entitled, FOUNTAIN, to an art fair in 1917, the notion that anything can be art has been in vogue. Can a raw IDEA be ART? Would it surprise you that after kicking off conceptual art, Duchamp retired from the art world in favor of playing chess. Humm, a player indeed….
Art doesn't need to be EASY, or pleasurable or even comfortable. However, if we desire art to be transformative, it has to resonate emotionally. We need access to the artist's intention. (Think of how your favorite movie or lyrics make you feel.) I enthusiastically champion clever but not ugly or self absorbed. I believe in BEAUTY + MEANING. Fashionable? Maybe not. Enduring. ABSOLUTELY. Aphrodite will outlive Damien Hirst’s stuffed shark I guarantee it.
BEAUTY has endured in every single culture from the beginning of time because humans LONG for it. Nothing jolts us out of our daily worries like beauty. An encounter with beauty is a magical experience, like falling in LOVE. We can’t transcend human suffering without beauty, which REDEEMS us over and over again. Ideas can be beautiful, take world peace or the end of cancer, but they are not ART without transcending the banal. Ugly adds nothing to a world full of it. The sacred AURA of beauty is wider and deeper than intellectual contests.
I boldly PREDICT the coolness of conceptual art will fade away along with hyper-consumerism. MEANING is the new currency and everyone is looking for it.
In the words of another fine TRICKSTER, Oscar Wilde; “All art is absolutely useless. Put usefulness first and you lose. Put beauty first and what you do will be useful forever."
If you enjoy learning about the philosophical, spiritual and historic aspects of BEAUTY, don't miss this provocative BBC documentary, BEAUTY MATTERS, hosted by academic Roger Scruton.
Your Venus ruled art advisor,