The whole point of art is to create meaning, to add meaning to our lives.
As what we find meaningful changes, the art we make changes.
Before, there was only one main current (with minor sub-currents) for the artist to choose from. Since modern art, the scope and diversity of artistic perspective has greatly increased, to the point where we find seemingly absolute contrary movements.
This meant, as all perspectives were possible and legitimate, that art became more and more like actual society — not only representing “the best”, but the whole social reality present.
This is the state of art today because this is the state of us today.
We may not like one thing or another in art today,
but it is a part of who we are.
The meaningless, the ironic, the angry, the mental, the spiritual, the figurative, the abstract… are just possibilities without hierarchy
(in the art-theory of today).
The idea is that nothing is more valuable than anything else,
that all perspectives are valid and are worth expressing.
One may agree or disagree, but it’s what there is.
I think this lets a lot of artists, and other art agents, off the hook, because it doesn’t require them to strive for anything. Yet at the same time, it poses an impossible problem artistically, in so far as nothing is more important, more urgent, more relevant than anything else. The only indication artists have is if their work sells, and for how much. Thus, they cater to that albeit without malevolent intention.
I’m not against artists making a lot of money,
I just would appreciate it if the artworks made were worth it,
and it made sense to pay that much.
Because if we talk in the standard of artistic value, of pure human value and merit, (and they are or should be the same) Damien Hirst’s Dot paintings don’t hold a candle to the Sistine Chapel, or even to an average work of the time.
The reason why we would treasure meaningless objects is beyond me.
If we demand of artists nothing, we get nothing.
If we demand everything, we get everything.
For an artist to show restraint, discipline, consistency and actual critical thought, it takes not believing the current art-theory / art-world.
If there’s no framework against which to play our creative impulse, and take that inarticulate creative impulse by itself (which is what artists are doing today), we get an indecipherable and hollow artwork, thus one of the tenets of art is to communicate thought, to explicitly express intention.
And this is often coupled paradoxically with the pretension of a hyper-intellectual, super obscure message, baffling the viewer and alienating them from the artwork.
The art goers of today may get the joke,
but they are being fooled like everyone else.
To summarize, the game the art world is playing today is that of selling shit as gold, for the price of gold, you being convinced that it is gold.
Let’s call things for what they are, shall we?
It’s only shit, and it’s not worth paying any attention to or money for.
Art is not made by putting random things in a gallery or a museum.
In a dumpster, a Velázquez would still be a Velázquez,
but most contemporary artworks would just be junk.
Furthermore, the depth of appreciation that a Velázquez can engender is infinitely superior than a Dot painting by Hirst, for example. No books will be written about Hirst’s work for their own merit, but perhaps to justify them by situating them in a particular artistic narrative.
I think in today’s art-world we’re afraid to state the obvious and acknowledge the apparent because of fear: fear of being left out, fear of not “making it”…
Even though art today is a better reflection of who we are nowadays, it is far, far away from who we could be, which is where I think our focus should remain.