Tuesday 17 February 2015

The Philistines Guide to Art (2)

Continued from yesterday. Click Here

Because now the painting has to go off to be cleaned and then viewed by an expert of a different kind. Using an X-ray machine, special lights, chemical analysis of pigments and a microscope he will examine the artists brush strokes. Prepare yourself for gold medal bollocks. From that analysis he can decide with certainty who did it. Either the old master of choice because its 'in the style of'' or alternatively, its someone else. The fact that someone else in antiquity produced the object round about the same time as the 'old master' and was in all fairness was also producing the goods is not enough to warrant notice. Now its just another na├»ve bit of crap, turned from a masterpiece into an antique by age with little value – but surely as a bit of art it has real worth.

So the cognoscenti can now gather round and chuckle or wax lyrical with another load of old bollocks. Expressing Olympic standard bollocks either in support of the appraisal or against this old artist who had forgotten to sign his masterpiece. So the value of art is in the artist and not the work itself.

Or is it?

Most of my regulars will know that I worked in a University – there were legendary stories told of various internal art installations. Generally one kept clear of the art aficionados in case it was catching. Let me give you an example or two. One story was of an art installation that was erected in an intersection of a couple of corridors. The cleaning staff who were well known within university circles as accomplished  art critics. Cleared the art away into the rubbish when tidying up that evening.  The very memorable brick wall, intended to symbolise the Berlin wall and all the political angst surrounding that. Which shortly after completion had to be removed because it was blocking a fire exit. It had a slightly shorter life span than the real thing - but I'm sure the art critics will feel it symbolised the moment that the German reunification started. Which as we all know is utter bollocks.

Then there was the installation done in a very large atrium – which consisted of washing lines of clothes hanging from various points. I over heard two art lecturers waxing lyrical about the symbolism or as I like to put it - talking complete and utter bollocks. 

I walked up – viewed it for a while from a variety of angles. Then I turned and said while stroking my chin in the way that art critics do – 'I never new my old mother was an artist'. Their faces were a picture of a different type, I then quietly walked away.

There were other art installations like the full sized models of carrion crows that were placed in the trees along the drive. No one noticed. The Pigs heads that were hung from the trees on wires. A sort of Damien Hurst installation long before Hurst 'arrived' on the art scene. At the end of the exhibition the heads were placed in a refrigerator before the art students and staff disappeared off for the summer. However, someone forgot to plug the fridge in. After the long summer break the smell was excruciating and a hundred million flies who escaped also gave their critical opinion.

One day I had a phone call from my friend and colleague on the art campus. He could hardly contain himself. He said Mick you must see this. He would not divulge the nature of the art installation. Only that it was a oncer (once in a lifetime) experience. That I really must come and see it for myself. Soon afterwards I found myself sitting in a darkened auditorium with my sniggering friend at my side. I was a bit suspicious of being 'dropped in it' so to speak.

It was performance art – which consisted of a naked young lady sitting astride a rope swing. The swing had garlands of flowers entwined round the central rope and a strategically placed posy at the bar seat - overhang. I'm not sure if the posy was intended for modesty or just for the scent. The performer was then allowed to swinging out from the stage, into the auditorium and over the top of the gathered audience. After several swings in an out, she was drawn back over the stage and the curtains then closed. The performance was over, the lights went up and a ripple of spontanious applause was led by a couple of art students.  Everyone gathered around the table with coffee and nibbles to discuss our impressions. Unusually for me I somehow kept my impressions to myself. It was a oncer I would have been very happy to have missed. 

At the end, the audience were requested to fill in a questionnaire as a critical review. I wrote that I was impressed that the lady was of the same sort of physical proportions as those ladies Rubens often portrayed. I had certainly hoped during the performance that the rope was a strong one and that I considered myself lucky that I had avoided the artiste falling into my lap. That most of all – I was very impressed by the ladies continence control in what seemed to be for her a frightening experience. I then signed my friends name at the end.

1 comment:

  1. A very interesting article which sums up philistines very well... thank you Michael for that…. yet Art has moved on from pictures together with whether they are painted rather well. Fine upstanding Sculptures fashionably created by well known sculptors. Yes they still have a place in society, the portrait painters, landscape painters who really just want to paint a pretty picture.

    Contemporary Fine Art has taken one step further to encapsulate, to engage with a subject or experience, thus engaging with science, technology, to create a formation of discovery.

    Take for example this photograph: what does it mean to you? A pile of old shoes… ‘Oh Eck what Rubbish…’ People said. It looks like a pile of a load of old shoes, this is the artists symbolic interpretation of the holocaust. It says a lot about Contemporary fine art and what it means today – to give another example for instance : take sound, did you know that … Mike Oldfield’s Tubular bells was a recording of what it feels like to have schizophrenia which was at that time not treatable.

    So the birds, the swing is the artists interpretation of his own study, which is then left to the artist as to whether he wants to explain it or not. As a university under graduate : you would be required at the end of a semester to present your work, then to give a talk about it, about the provenance of how the work was made, with inspirations and ideas which inspired you. Experience, historical facts, for example… with a final example of Nick Parks who was also a graduate of Hallam University… with his cartoon characters of Shaun the Sheep… which gives you the insight to human behaviour.

    That my sweet friends (no sniggering at the back) is a small introduction to why you don’t snigger at work created by people who are quite often described as loonies. You can go back to sniggering if you like but take a hanky with you. There are some good art works out there which came from humble beginnings.

    otherwise known as Madame Cholet


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