Field Theory by Hadyn Green

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Field Theory: A post about art (sort of)

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  • Islander,

    Riiiight, Paul Litterick: European perspective = What Real Art Is.

    Yes?

    In which case, your world-view of "ART" is missing out on a huge amount of Art...snd we artists dont miss, or really appreciate, or even esteem in the slightest, your view of art-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    O. Steve Barnes - there are tools and other things that are strictly utilitarian (I'm thinking, within an ANZ context, of flint blades, flax coverings & rourou for an umukai, and scraped flax for babies' nappies- or about a hundred other everyday objects that I could put my mind to.) But - for things that were not ephemeral, art came into the utility aspect - and that simply isnt covered by Paul's simplistic European view.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    Most crafted objects were made for sale at high prices to people who could afford them: Thomas Chippendale did not make chairs for the mob.

    The owners of the chairs did not think they had the same aesthetic value as the paintings the owners commissioned from George Romney. There was and remains a hierarchy of values.

    The decorating of a chair is not a comparable activity, intellectually, as the depiction of reality and the expression of emotion. Craft requires skill but not intellect. The purpose of the chair is fulfilled by its having legs and a seat, not by its decorative scroll-work: its beauty is not necessary but applied. An aesthetic purpose is considered more noble and pure than a practical one. Above all, picture-making is not a comparable activity to chair-making: art is valued because of its expression and because it does not have a practical purpose. Art allows an escape from practicality.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    Islander, it is not my simplistic view: Art is a European invention, a word that describes particular non-utile activities. What is wrong with the word 'craft' to describe beautifully made practical objects?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    The purpose of the chair is fulfilled by its having legs and a seat, not by its decorative scroll-work: its beauty is not necessary but applied. An aesthetic purpose is considered more noble and pure than a practical one.

    By whom? I say bollocks to that myself. As for this:

    Above all, picture-making is not a comparable activity to chair-making: art is valued because of its expression and because it does not have a practical purpose. Art allows an escape from practicality.

    A decoration on the handle of a spade is just as non-functional as a painting. It reflects a need to be surrounded by beauty even amongst those who couldn't afford to purchase more expensive art designed to sit around and be looked at. And of course it's still art.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    Your wanting it to be art does not make it art.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    Art allows an escape from practicality.

    Yeah, we can sit in our decorated chairs and drink our brandy, smoke our cigars and admire the work of the peasants because.

    Craft requires skill but not intellect.

    No amount of decoration will make that a chair I would gladly sit on, it would be uncomfortable.

    its beauty is not necessary but applied.

    Its beauty is in its comfort, the way it fits with you, whether you are sitting in it or looking at it.

    An aesthetic purpose is considered more noble and pure than a practical one.

    Not by this Monkey.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Your wanting it to be art does not make it art.

    Maybe not. But Gio's looking at it as art probably would- at least according to a fairly common reading of Dickie.
    Art is a social phenomenon and activity, according to the "institutional theory" but it's not especially hierarchical or exclusive- not like a sort of artistic acadamie francais dictated by an elite. No special uniforms or entry fees.
    You become a part of 'the artworld' by taking part in it: as observer, helper, viewer, appreciator, or creator. There's no reason for it to exclude anyone.
    On the other hand, like most areas of human endeavour, there are people who are just beginning their involvement, and people with a great deal of accumulated knowledge; people who take it very seriously and devote their lives to art, and people who regard it as frivolous; those who regard it as a collection of sacred traditions, and complete iconoclasts...

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2110 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    Indeed, and there are those in the art world who think of crafts as art. But still, what is wrong with the word 'craft?'

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Your wanting it to be art does not make it art.

    Yes, so long as we all comply with your narrow definition of art. I get that, believe it or not.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    It is not my definition.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Still, you seem pretty fond of it.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    It describes a state of affairs that has existed as long as art. It allowed Quattrocento artists to liberate themselves from the guild system and to be regarded as individuals capable of achievements equal to the poets. And yes, I like it because there are intrinsic differences between things made primarily for their aesthetic qualities and those which are made for practical reasons.

    If you decide everything that is decorated or beautiful is art, then you make the term meaningless. The Aston Martin DB6 is beautiful; Holland and Holland shotguns are decorated (in much the same way as your working man's spade). They are not art. They are not intended to be art.

    Beauty is not something that is confined to art: sunsets, aubergines and Tilda Swinton are all beautiful, in my opinion at least; but none of them are art (although Tilda Swinton has made performance art). Beauty is not a necessary condition of art. Works of art can have other aesthetic qualities, and they can have intellectual qualities. Nor must they be well-made, as works of craft must. Nor must they serve a useful purpose.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Holland and Holland shotguns are decorated (in much the same way as your working man's spade). They are not art. They are not intended to be art.

    Says you. The specific tools I'm thinking of - and the handles of spades and the blades that I've seen - weren't carved by craftsmen based on a repetivive design. They were unique pieces, and reflected a profound need to behold beautiful objects in the life of people in my family who didn't have the luxury of idle time or disposable income. They may not be of supreme artistic quality, but they are in fact the very definition of what art is.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    My Grandfather had a gun like that he showed it to me once.
    "Look at that boy" he said "Now that's a work of Art"
    And while we talk about Whales.
    Scrimshaw Mr Litterick, scrimshaw, is that Art?

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    I have several old edged weapons. They're made of poenamu (nephrite jade) and bone (whale-bone.)They are elegant killing instruments: they are works of art. (O, certified as such.)

    I have a bowl made of glass. It is intensely blue. It holds, occaisionally, lemons or limes or tangerines. It is a work of art. (Certified as such.)

    For 3 of my edged weapons, I dont have the creators' names. For one, I do (he is part of my whakapapa. Artist & warrior both.)

    For my fruit bowl, I know Ann Robinson: I love her work.

    Now, Paul Litterick, which one of these items would you call craft? Which one would you call 'art'?

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    They are works of craft, and there is no shame in that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    Scrimshaw is a form of folk art, objects made for aesthetic pleasure but made outside the art world. The decoration given to their spades by Giovanni's forebears would seem to be the same (I assume they did not make the spades or, if they did, the decoration was not integral to them; they applied decoration to make the spades beautiful).

    This sort of practice is outside the discourse of art, because of the social status of its makers as much as anything else, but it has value to its makers and to others. People strive to make their environments beautiful, by such activities others like gardening and home decoration, but there is no need to call these activities art.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Did Maori art like the Te Maori exhibition make any impact on your assessment, Paul?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I think there was a time before art. Larry Shiner argues that art was invented in the 18th Century, a part of the great enlightenment project of classification.

    Man. Michelangelo, Leonardo, Leonardo, and the other teenage mutant turtle are going to be pissed that you brought that up.

    Art is a European invention, a word that describes particular non-utile activities.

    I'd like to point out, since no one else has seemed to do so, that this is crap. Lots of non-European societies have done non-utile art type activities.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    I'd like to point out, since no one else has seemed to do so, that this is crap. Lots of non-European societies have done non-utile art type activities.

    I took Paul to mean that our idea of Art is European in origin. Which is also crap, but hey.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    Man. Michelangelo, Leonardo, Leonardo, and the other teenage mutant turtle are going to be pissed that you brought that up.

    Yes; I don't think he is right. I think art was invented in the 15th Century.

    Lots of non-European societies have done non-utile art type activities

    I said particular activities. Some of the non-European activities are now considered as art by many, but generally art refers to the European traditions.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    I took Paul to mean that our idea of Art is European in origin. Which is also crap, but hey.

    Pray, continue.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    but generally art refers to the European traditions.

    Yes, the figures on cave walls and the sculptures and paintings and drawings and etchings and the ceramics and the pottery fashioned by peoples all around the world for thousands of years are only Art if an art historian trained in the European tradition says so. And that is the only useful definition and conception of Art, to be applied now and forever to all cultures.

    You really are quite something, Paul.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Pray, continue.

    Why? How? You seem to think that Art as we know it (as opposed to as you know it, which is quite obviously the case) started in the Quattrocento. Therefore, quite aside form all the non-European art that had been made until that point, it rules out the ancient Greeks.

    Phydias was not an artist. And I should waste my time arguing with this why exactly?

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

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