One of the things that keeps me interested in updating Art News Blog is the comments that people leave. In a recent post on Doris’s Crack at the Tate Modern, I said that artists can sometimes ramble on a little too much. And that is fine if you feel like reading an essay, but it shouldn’t be necessary to understand the work.
Anyway, some people left some interesting comments on the post. (not everyone reads the comments, so I’m re posting them below)
Anonymous said “Not only do artists at this level of “seriousness” simply preach to the choir (I think the majority of people at art exhibitions already share the point of view of the artist), but I have become increasingly intolerant of artists, usually half my age, trying to function as a moral agent for me and usually with such grand, sweeping themes as “war is bad”, “AIDS is tragic”, etc.,just name the cause and the obvious response. It would seem that I champion art of lesser substance, but I argue that since no artist has control over anyone’s response, and since there are literally millions of quotidian things and events the meanings of which could provide any artist with plenty to address, why not look for substance that is a little harder to find. The efforts of most artists trying to raise awareness seem to me mostly pathetic and ineffectual. Though I risk rendering all of the above into idiotic ranting, I might add that I am a sucker for beauty that is hard to find and see.”
Coxsoft Art said “Grandiose statements don’t hide pathetic attempts at art. They merely irritate. A true work of art hits you, and you don’t need any patronising codswallop to back it up, although I would be interested to know of any scientific explanation as to why a work of art hits me the way it does.”
Marscha said “For me, these “explanations” of art have the opposite effect: they destroy all pleasure of looking at a piece of art uninhibitedly. The whole process of letting art make its way through your mind and leave an impression of any kind is frustrated, and they let you end up wondering about the “essay” more than about the piece itself.”
HellyUK said “I know what people mean about causes being associated with artwork and to some extent I agree. However I think this artwork illustrates division, in a very literal sense (as well reminding me of earthquakes and natural disasters)rather well.
Artists are encouraged to have explanations with their artwork. It’s a catch twenty two situation really: if you don’t write one people think you can’t define your own artwork, if you do it can seem as if all artwork is about a set number of ‘themes’.”
Jafabrit said “I don’t think I would have needed an essay to see that the crack represents a divide of some kind. However it looks like a divide, a crack, created by nature rather than a cultural/social attitude created by humans. So I am not sure it works for me in the context the artist wanted, even after reading the explanation.”
Lev said “An interesting thing, this crack. I don’t have a problem with people falling into it – in fact I am quite pleased that public artworks that are a touch hazardous are still allowed to exist.
But I agree with all the comments about the total crap talked about the meaning of the work. Aesthetically, it is in fact quite pleasing – I for one don’t need anything more. I certainly don’t need pseudo philosophical/socio-political explanations – in fact such things just make me think much less of the artist, and even less of the curator.
But one has to ask why artists and curators think such nonsensical verbage is required? Is it because so much of the art we see is empty – we look at it, and most of us respond at best with a kind of bemused shrug. We think there’s nothing much there in what we see and then we read the attached verbage in an attempt to understand why the assembled ugliness has been deemed worthy of a place in a gallery. The verbage just invites us to feel stupid for not seeing the embedded meanings, which are almost always invented after the fact. The artist almost certainly made this work because they liked the look of cracks and thought that making a really big one, indoors, would be pretty interesting to look at. That should be the end of the story, though the vacuousness inherent in that goes against a whole industry of curators, critics and institutions.
I think if a work of art is empty looking, by which I mean one that provokes neither real feeling nor real thought nor real appreciation, we should just leave it that way, without words. It might be bad art, but at least it’s honest. Let emptiness be it’s own ghastly message. There’s plenty of that about.”
My Conclusion: It’s often the comments where the intelligent things are being said! Unless it’s a spammer selling Viagra or offering you a good deal on a loan! (I delete them eventually though)