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 The Degradation of Art

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Bombadillo

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PostSubject: The Degradation of Art   Fri Jul 04, 2008 2:25 am

This is a thread for those who are alarmed (or not so alarmed) about the apparent, to me at least, degradation of art throughout.

It became apparent to me the last time I strolled through the local art museum. I began in the earlier, more classical, works. These I find very beautiful and the technique used to create them was impeccable. As I began to move forward the art was still good, more modern but not quite into the 30's. Moving into the next gallery I began to see a great decrease in the amount of technique required to create the pieces.

This steady decrease was almost palpable throughout the rest of the museum. The worst though was in the student art section, in which the local high schools submit their works. They are judged and the "best" go up on the wall. These pictures were shockingly poor. There was one that a young man had, apparently, just taken arbitrarily in black and white. There was nothing moving or thought provoking in the piece at all.

The same degradation can be seen in the realm of music as well. It is my belief that music is music when it moves you. Whether that is being moved to dance, sing, play, think, or become active. Music is art when it moves you to feel. I am not one of those who say that Hip-Hop is not music because it causes one to move. Unless the song makes you feel, however, it is not a truly artistic piece. Over the years I have witnessed a distinct decrease in the amount of songs that make you feel and an increase in the amount of songs that merely move you (not a pure emotional movement but just a catchy tune or beat).

Thine thoughts?


Last edited by Bombadillo on Fri Jul 04, 2008 1:53 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: The Degradation of Art   Fri Jul 04, 2008 2:30 am

I certainly agree with you, as art has become less of an artisan skill, thought has been allowed to transcend style: this has caused nearly irreperable change to the entire approach to art.

Those who allow their thought to transcend style, however, deserve not the appreciation as artists: They must learn to acheive a balance between lyricism and technique, or else they have not created any such art.

There are of course, simple eye-candy works which break the world down to its essential elements, but these are merely artisan works. And yet, they require skill, skill which is forsaken by those such as the Dadaists and the Neo-Conceptualists... These artists, should not be rewarded by their negation of technique, and yet the masses swallow the pill quite well... They seem afraid that if they do not tolerate the imbalance, their own intelligence is threatened.

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PostSubject: Re: The Degradation of Art   Fri Jul 04, 2008 2:41 am

DeridingPolyphemus wrote:
They seem afraid that if they do not tolerate the imbalance, their own intelligence is threatened.

Great point! They say this and actually it would be quite the opposite! One always looks smarter when critiquing Very Happy .

DeridingPolyphemus wrote:
Those who allow their thought to transcend style, however, deserve not the appreciation as artists: They must learn to acheive a balance between lyricism and technique, or else they have not created any such art.

Again great point! A creation with technique and lyricism is art in a high form. A creation with technique is the work of an artisan. A creation with only lyricism, however, is an attempt at an "artist" being paid for his thoughts alone. (Which doesn't shouldn't happen).
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PostSubject: Re: The Degradation of Art   Fri Jul 04, 2008 7:12 pm

The issue, i believe arises when we try to determine the appropriate balance for thought and style. It is certainly a very abstract idea.

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PostSubject: Re: The Degradation of Art   Sat Jul 05, 2008 1:46 pm

First of all, I have to take issue with the scope of your definition of art. Though I agree that the main (or at least vital) element in a piece of art is to make one feel, the reaction to any created stimulus will vary from consciousness to consciousness; it is largely subjective (not entirely, though, as humans have basic biological, social, or geographical similarities which explain statistical patterns in taste, though I don't think this necessarily affects objective value--which doesn't, as far as I can see, exist). Genres such as "art" cannot have subjective definitions lest their raison d'etre be invalidated. What's the point of a genre consisting of things that vary almost completely from person to person? Linguistically the communicative ability of the word "art" becomes null. An objective definition is needed, and the only common denominator I can see is this: the intent of the creator. The word "art" does not indicate value, which is necessary for its objectivity. Intent does not necessitate value either. Thus I believe that the one characteristic that makes a creation art is the intent of the creator for it to be art, meaning something that creates a subjective reaction of feeling in the witness of the creation.

That said, I take severe issue with your analysis of the evolution of art. It seems that you put great emphasis on technique which contradicts your main premise (that art makes one feel). Technique is not and end in a creation but a means to an end, and therefore should be value-analysed according to how well that end is achieved (and more subjectively, what end is achieved). The coherence of your first paragraph is thus fine up to here:

Quote :
I began to see a great decrease in the amount of technique required to create the pieces.

particularly "amount of technique." Let's compare two artists: Michelangelo and Pollock.




The first one is, using your terminology, classical. The technique is utterly jawdropping; that is, the aesthetic end was achieved almost perfectly. That is not to say that "it must have been really hard to make." That is something entirely separate from the art, though great technique can require great physical ability, as in this case.
The second one is modern. The technique, once again, is simply mindblowing; that is, the expressionistic end was achieved with staggering creative genius. Cognitively, the creation of the exact expression transmitted by this piece would be immensely difficult. Physically, it would be rather simple: drip paint on canvas.

We can see that your quantitative analysis of technique is incoherent. The end that is being aimed for in the late modern pieces requires less means to be expressed? By this you can only mean less physical ability. But physical ability is not a means to an end, but a necessity of certain means (particularly works in the classical era). I don't see at all how this equates to subjective or objective value.

Another flaw in your case for degradation is the vitality of older schools of art. Not all art created today is in the (post-)modernist movement. In the visual arts particularly, impressionism is still exceedingly popular. In literature, conventional fiction reigns supreme with the postmoderns (Pynchon etc.) in the minority. In music, the romantic movement still has quite a hold (Samuel Barber, Kurt Atterberg, etc.)

As far as certain artists selling blank or black and white canvases or the like, that is mere imitation of the minimalist movement (which is far from the majority of artists working currently). The creativity of the original minimalists is not present and we can call such works worthless, but imitative artists have always existed and are not a sign of any "degradation."

Finally, your analysis of the state of music is lacking heavily. You seem only to be talking about popular music, but there is a vast underbelly to that genre and traditional art music still exists (Adams, Carter, Norgard.) I think more exploration would benefit you quite a bit.
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PostSubject: Re: The Degradation of Art   Sat Jul 05, 2008 2:26 pm

You are indeed correct in criticizing our lack of definition to what exactly we aim to criticize, however i must point out:

Quote :
The first one is, using your terminology, classical. The technique is utterly jawdropping; that is, the aesthetic end was achieved almost perfectly. That is not to say that "it must have been really hard to make." That is something entirely separate from the art, though great technique can require great physical ability, as in this case.
The second one is modern. The technique, once again, is simply mindblowing; that is, the expressionistic end was achieved with staggering creative genius. Cognitively, the creation of the exact expression transmitted by this piece would be immensely difficult. Physically, it would be rather simple: drip paint on canvas.

The First image, These statues involved not only hours of work and genious, but an entire life's effort of studies, schooling, thought, precision, and not to mention, the patience of a saint.

The second, regardless of the authors intent or previous abilities, reflects none of the skills which, in my belief, an artist should strive for with studies, etc. It is at best rude and violent wallpaper, a feat which could be accomplished by anyone with the physical resources.

What i consider degredation is not the entire system of art, rather individual schools including: Neo-Conceptualism, Dadaism, the NO! movemet. These are not breaches made in the artworld by staggering works of genious, These are at best clever minds who have found a way to cheat the system by adding illegitimate claims of metaphysical thought to their presentations. Rothko for example, is perhaps one of the worst, (though I am unfamiliar with his background, as far as artistic training), but as he harnessed the basic principles of design, he stripped them of any complex aesthetics, and presented only squares and rectangles. These neandrathalic images can be nothing more than simple visual delights, especially when repeated ten fold.

imitation of life is required for art, and sure there is room to innovate, but there comes a point to which the innovation becomes too far, and that is when all resemblence to nature is forgone and any learned skills are bypassed.

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PostSubject: Re: The Degradation of Art   Sat Jul 05, 2008 3:19 pm

DeridingPolyphemus wrote:

The First image, These statues involved not only hours of work and genious, but an entire life's effort of studies, schooling, thought, precision, and not to mention, the patience of a saint.

Why is this a quality piece of art? Is it because it took, as you say, "an entire life's effort of studies, schooling, thought, precision, and not to mention, the patience of a saint" or because of the pure aesthetic quality (more accurately, the immediate, appreciative response to the stimulus)? If you choose the former, "art" is qualitatively assessed by how much work was put into it. If you choose the latter, art is the de facto ability of the piece in question to inspire a benign response, regardless of work.

Quote :
The second, regardless of the authors intent or previous abilities, reflects none of the skills which, in my belief, an artist should strive for with studies, etc.

By this statement I can only assume you are using the former criterion to judge the art, as you seem to criticize it for lacking reference to hard work. If I built a television from scratch with no idea of how a television works it would be quite a lifetime's achievement. Using my objective definition of art as intent, say that I intend for this to be seen as a work of art. Is it any good? By the criterion you are applying to Pollock's work, yes. By the criterion that I apply to it, no. It stimulates no significant response from me.

Quote :
It is at best rude and violent wallpaper, a feat which could be accomplished by anyone with the physical resources.

Your response to this piece is perfectly fine, of course, but I take issue with the following: "a feat which could be accomplished by anyone with the physical resources." As far as judging a piece of art goes, you seem to be equating the words "would" and "could." Anyone with the physical resources could paint this piece, in the same way that many vapid specialists could sculpt Michelangelo's work. Only one person in both cases actually would, though, because they both had the creativity to craft and use their preferred techniques. That's why many critics described Pollock's first piece of this sort as "breaking the ice." This was a strikingly original method that achieved for many the desired end perfectly.
Quote :

What i consider degredation is not the entire system of art, rather individual schools including: Neo-Conceptualism, Dadaism, the NO! movemet. These are not breaches made in the artworld by staggering works of genious, These ae at best minds who have found a way to cheat the system by adding illegitimate claims of metaphysical thought to their presentations. Rothko for example, is perhaps one of the worst, I am unfamiliar with his background, but he harnessed the basic principles of design, stripped them of any complex aesthetics, and presented only squares and rectangles. These neandrathalic images can be nothing more than simple visual delights, especially when repeated 10 fold.

Certain minority schools not meeting the standard for quality would not be described as degradation or at least anything to worry about, I think. That said, and disregarding your inclusion of Dada due to its being a political reaction rather than a "claim of metaphysical thought" and the NO! movement due to my having no idea what it is, I'll comment on your assessment of neo-conceptualism, and conceptual art in general. You state that the thought behind these pieces is an illegitimate claim, for example: "this is a picture of a toaster, but I thought real hard about it, honest." These claims are inherent in the works themselves of course, but you cannot prove that thought was not in fact involved. I have a major problem with conceptual art for that very reason, though: if the thought is not manifest in the work, what is the point of the thought? Nonetheless, this movement doesn't worry me or signify any degradation.


Quote :
imitation of life is required for art, and sure there is room to innovate, but there comes a point to which the innovation becomes too far, and that is when all resemblence to nature is forgone and any learned skills are bypassed.

It is not necessary to imitate to cause an emotional response, and therefore I don't see why this is necessary for something to be art.
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PostSubject: Re: The Degradation of Art   Sat Jul 05, 2008 3:28 pm

Yes, i am saying there is ability and refined technique which is required to be an artist in the traditional sense.

I think you are confusing Bombadillo's opinion with that of my own. I believe largely art requires a balance of intellectual and emotional response. A peice intended to generate only emotional responses, or solely intellectual responses fails as art.

but of course, I should be more leneint with judgement in that regard.

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PostSubject: Re: The Degradation of Art   Sat Jul 05, 2008 3:38 pm

DeridingPolyphemus wrote:
Yes, i am saying there is ability and refined technique which is required to be an artist in the traditional sense.

I think you are confusing Bombadillo's opinion with that of my own. I believe largely art requires a balance of intellectual and emotional response. A peice intended to generate only emotional responses, or solely intellectual responses fails as art.

but of course, I should be more leneint with judgement in that regard.

A very musical opinion! You should love Beethoven...


Seriously, though, I wonder what the difference between intellectual and emotional really is. It seems to me that the latter is subsumed in the former, being itself part of the mental reaction to a stimulus.
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PostSubject: Re: The Degradation of Art   Sat Jul 05, 2008 3:39 pm

K. wrote:
DeridingPolyphemus wrote:
Yes, i am saying there is ability and refined technique which is required to be an artist in the traditional sense.

I think you are confusing Bombadillo's opinion with that of my own. I believe largely art requires a balance of intellectual and emotional response. A peice intended to generate only emotional responses, or solely intellectual responses fails as art.

but of course, I should be more leneint with judgement in that regard.

A very musical opinion! You should love Beethoven...


Seriously, though, I wonder what the difference between intellectual and emotional really is. It seems to me that the latter is subsumed in the former, being itself part of the mental reaction to a stimulus.

Yes I do enjoy Beethoven, But i like the romantic composers more Smile

Perhaps i should research more on this 'balance' Ill see if i can find some writings on the very topic.

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PostSubject: Re: The Degradation of Art   Mon Jul 07, 2008 1:33 pm

alright wow, this is a biggie, i agree to some degree with everybody that's commented on this thread so far, like a lot of people(the general public included i believe) i didn't really like abstract art at first, after doing photography for awhile, reading and seeing more art i began to appreciate it, i still hate the 'minimalist/contemporary' works where its just one little red dot, a square, etc., etc., but i can enjoy the more textural, violent(as deriding called it), type abstacts, as well as the implied objects type abstracts(blurred animals, people, what have you)
HOWEVER
this is where my opinion differs from the group who like abstracts as well(i imagine). I once heard this great quote that a guitarist said about watching other guitarists(folk fingerstyle guitar to be exact), "I come to a show not to watch them play their guitar, but to watch them THINK" Think. Think. This is really important, you can study music, art, whatever, your entire life, but if you can't actually convey your thoughts through your art than whats the point? likewise, there are people who've come into these art forms late in the game, know next to nothing about them, and yet their works are filled with life, love, emotion, passion, etc., etc.
So though technical knowledge is not required in order to create great work, when one sees it they at least know that there was a thought process going on there, and when that same artist does create an abstract work, i can actually appreciate it because i know the choices they could have taken, i know their abilities, and i can see(or hear) what they were going for when they created the work. Whereas with artists like Pollack where the paint is literally just thrown at the canvas, it's really hard to appreciate the artist, there's nothing going on 'up there', here's a quote of his, illustrating my point-
Quote :
When I am in my painting, I'm not aware of what I'm doing. It's only after a sort of "get acquainted" period that I see what I have been about. I have no fears about making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own.
- quoted in Possibilities I, Winter 1947-48
but after rereading that, i could see someone taking that as 'Free Thought' which is something i love to do when attempting poetry, writing lyrics, or what have you, so i suppose it's really up to the person absorbing the work whether or not they feel the artist was 'thinking' (whether it's conscious thought or not), whether they care about technical abilities or not, and lastly, as K pointed out, if the work pleases aesthetically or not.
So my two cents is, as i said, that i care about the whole kit and caboodle, kind of like deriding was saying, emotion, technical ability, all balanced; or i'd at least like to know they have the ability, and either choose not to use it to express something, or have forsaken that ability/knowledge in order to experiment(something very important for all artists). im less interested in the artists that seem to have just found a niche since they (presumably) have no other talent.
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PostSubject: Re: The Degradation of Art   Mon Jul 07, 2008 1:51 pm

Not all thought is linguistic in nature. With Pollock, the thought that is conveyed is as abstract as the work itself but isn't indecipherable unless you try to decode it linguistically. This applies to instrumental music as well and even to literature (with authors such as Beckett, Joyce, and Pynchon).
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PostSubject: Re: The Degradation of Art   Mon Jul 07, 2008 2:21 pm

My issue is that art is a form of communication, based on a standard of understanding. Therefore it must on some grounds convey a message to others.

And i will not deny that some are touched by pollack's works, but they do nothing for me. The quote which was presented from Pollack himself does not help me in the least, because i view art as a form of exorcism, rather than creation of an individual being.

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PostSubject: Re: The Degradation of Art   Mon Jul 07, 2008 2:24 pm

The fact though that some are touched by Pollack show that what he does is indeed art, for if you hear to people talking in a language you do not understand does that make it any less a language?
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PostSubject: Re: The Degradation of Art   Mon Jul 07, 2008 2:28 pm

It comes down to our own definitions of art. There are many who, through a flabby argument of tolerence, say "Its the thought that counts" (I am not in any way singling anyone out).

Some say that it is merely for an outward aesthetic appeal, But this is too simple, this is work which is meant for decoration rather than serious thought.

Some say it is all about the emotion, but then art that only provokes pure emotion uncoupled with intellectual reaction should at best be mere entertainment and at worst be porn.

I say it requires the aesthetic appeal, intellectual response and understanding, and thirdly an emotional aura to balance the others. This balance dictates the art, and when one of these qualities is absent, art itself no longer is.

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PostSubject: Re: The Degradation of Art   Mon Jul 07, 2008 2:35 pm

Even though I agree with you, I will continue to play the devil's advocate and argue that, if one person considers something art then does that not make it art. Who decides in the end what is art and what is not. If a group of people consider something art there is no way to contest that claim. For there are so many ways to define art one of the broadest being the products of human creativity so in that sense everything is art, that is created by man.
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PostSubject: Re: The Degradation of Art   Mon Jul 07, 2008 3:05 pm

DeridingPolyphemus wrote:
It comes down to our own definitions of art. There are many who, through a flabby argument of tolerence, say "Its the thought that counts" (I am not in any way singling anyone out).

Some say that it is merely for an outward aesthetic appeal, But this is too simple, this is work which is meant for decoration rather than serious thought.

Some say it is all about the emotion, but then art that only provokes pure emotion uncoupled with intellectual reaction should at best be mere entertainment and at worst be porn.

I say it requires the aesthetic appeal, intellectual response and understanding, and thirdly an emotional aura to balance the others. This balance dictates the art, and when one of these qualities is absent, art itself no longer is.

By creating a subjective criterion for the word art you are making it a completely useless word; it can no longer serve to communicate anything.
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PostSubject: Re: The Degradation of Art   Mon Jul 07, 2008 6:29 pm

Artists have long been considered tradesmen; Therefore i argue that art does require subjective criterion, but only insofar as there is a balance of learned technique to portray emotion.

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PostSubject: Re: The Degradation of Art   Mon Jul 07, 2008 10:30 pm

DeridingPolyphemus wrote:
Artists have long been considered tradesmen; Therefore i argue that art does require subjective criterion, but only insofar as there is a balance of learned technique to portray emotion.

That's a fine subjective definition for good art but as far as communicating with other people (the purpose of language) it's flawed. If art is something different for every person then the word means nothing--in fact, being a linguistic squabble, so is this argument now. scratch
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PostSubject: Re: The Degradation of Art   Tue Jul 08, 2008 1:12 pm

K. wrote:
DeridingPolyphemus wrote:
Artists have long been considered tradesmen; Therefore i argue that art does require subjective criterion, but only insofar as there is a balance of learned technique to portray emotion.

That's a fine subjective definition for good art but as far as communicating with other people (the purpose of language) it's flawed. If art is something different for every person then the word means nothing--in fact, being a linguistic squabble, so is this argument now. scratch

Ok, for this reason, I am locking the thread, or else we will keep going in circles.

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