Which Comes First: The Art or the Artist? Essays

Which Comes First: The Art or the Artist? Essays

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Which Comes First: The Art or the Artist?


A Historical Perspective

The approach of the year 2000 seems a good time to think about the way the role of art and the artist has changed through history, and how modern art is interpreted by a modern audience. Writing about modern art gives me the creeps. In other types of art, clear facts can be asserted with security, public reactions are clearly documented, skills can be appreciated, and art is clearly recognized as such. Modern art defys all of these conventions. Writing about modern art bothers me because after I've said everything that I feel about a piece, I'm not sure I could defend myself if someone walked up and told me I was an idiot who missed the artist's point altogether. Am I symbolic of the piss or the crucifix, the Lady or the tiger?

Amoung the things the artist has been in history are: historian, architect, scientist, propagandist, and social commentator. Is the modern artist still the same, or is the role of the artist changing completely from all the old templates and metamorphasizing into something altogether different?

The Artist as Historian?

For vast majority of art history, the artist has been very unimportant. Cave paintings are considered a way to learn about the lives of prehistoric man. Cave paintings are of interest to the archieologist and the curious. No painting has any signatures, at least none have been interpreted as such. No none ever tries to "get into the mind" of a prehistoric artist. No one knows who the artist is until the egyptian artist Imhotep began putting his name on his work. Until then, no none was concerned with the artist as anything but a tool to express the culture of the time.

Artists often are given the duty of re...


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...ortfolio. The xyz portfolio was a collection of pictures of men engaged in brutal homosexual acts. While these pictures certainly make an impact on an audience, they don't change public opinon on the subject. They change public opinon of the artists.

Modern art lacks much of the subtle touch of previous art. Its statements, although more powerful than ever in history, are not accepted by mainstream society. In order for an artists to be the pivot of public opinon and social change, they have to be more acceptable to mainstream, or else art has little function in society.

During the Wats;on festival held at Carnegie Mellon University, Elaine King was asked to speak on the future of art. She asserted that art was being created for "artists, art critics, curators and collectors." Surely this must change if art is ever to be the fulcrum it has the potential to be.

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