My love affair with art started young. Crayon scribbles to finger painting to drawing to cartoons to painting … and then off to a private high school and five years of high brow art so that I knew a lot about things that most people never would care about. Knowledge that won’t get you a job – that sort of thing.
Which naturally makes me both culturally and intellectually superior to the uninitiated who have stupid jobs like being a surgeon, a judge or a quantum physicist.
Actually, since I was drafted to a high-achieving school, the surgeon, the judge and the quantum physicist were probably in my class. (That sounds like the start of a joke – a surgeon, a judge and a quantum physicist went to a school. The surgeon said… etc.)
Although, they probably were in my art class, in the case of the quantum physicist, he or she was probably attending all other classes simultaneously in different dimensions while phasing in and out of existence and personifying the question ‘what is real?’ …
Which in the dimension and class I was attending may have been a good topic to explore in one of his or her perspectives, but by the mere act of choosing a subjective lens to view the question, would have collapsed all other possibilities and rendered the study not understood or complete… thereby demonstrating my popular science noob’s view on the subject.
No, but serious (oh, my goodness is this blog going to get serious?!?), learning about art was one of the greatest things I have ever done. You can really appreciate the creative mind and the era of the time the piece was created during by learning about it … and unfolding the mysteries. It is like learning another language or opening the wardrobe to another world, like Narnia.
But instead of being a world with boring things like talking lions who think they’re Jesus or witches who directly influence the seasons and withhold the biggest shopping holiday of the year – Christmas…
… it is a world that has artists who cut off an ear to send in the post on Valentine’s Day, or artists who paint pictures of pipes and then tell you that it isn’t actually in reality a pipe but a picture of a pipe.
All I have to say to the first example is that goodness we now have Halmark, Vincent. (Van Gogh and I are clearly on a first name basis.)
And to the second example, the below is not a pipe either…
So, in essence, art is more than aesthetic candy, but exploring psychology and perspectives of the mind, and importantly is a channel for rebellion and making statements. It is the rebellious Sex Pistols of intellect and society, except that its members aren’t all tools with no talent and no real base (or real bass, as the case may be with the Sex Pistols).
Did I say that out loud? Sorry that was my upturned nose speaking, not my skinny genes – the DNA of Punk – the place where God gave Rock’n’Roll to you … And to everyone.
Have you got that song stuck in your head now?
But in this exploration of art, I discovered that art isn’t all about rebellion and expressing your individuality. It also occasionally has artists that I am pretty certain nobody understands, but like the emperor and his new clothes, nobody wants to admit they don’t. And so they pay millions to maintain the illusion they do.
Case in point…
I once as a young art student went to a small minimalist art gallery with my class and got to meet the artist. As you can imagine, it was very exciting to pick the brains of someone who does art for a living. Especially as he delved in minimalist art and I had no understanding or appreciation for his art yet (turns out I still don’t). Here was a chance to open my fresh-eyed young mind up with a dose of artistic DMT.
To paint the scene, pun regrettably intended, this minimalist artist did artwork like painting a canvas completely white, then dripping white paint down the side. Or splotching a red dot in the middle. Yes, that was the piece. Done. Now put a price tag on it. $35,000 plus postage and handling.
Example of a similar piece done by a small child is below.
When we arrived the class were allowed to leisurely explore his gallery, before we met aforementioned artist and asked our questions. These questions went down like this – no joke.
Student (pointing to white canvas with yellow blob): What is the meaning behind your artwork? Can you tell us what the meaning behind this art piece is, for example?
Artist: This piece is about when I had sandwiches on the beach with my teacher, and bla la bla bla, and the yellow dot then related to (insert completely random political message), bla bla bla, and that’s when I said to Mary I’d like to meet her Tuesday, represented by the white. (Finish)
Class reaction: Different states of WTF.
Student (confused but with humour): When do you know an art piece is complete?
(It was on our minds as the paintings looked as though they’d all been started but perhaps stopped at the first stroke.)
Artist: I know to stop painting when the phone rings.
Teacher (after just two questions): Okay, that’s enough, boys. We have to be getting back to school now. Thank the ‘artist’ for his … ummm … time.
Artist shrugs and lights up marijuana in front of us all. He then proceeds to leer at some of us.
End of scene.
Now obviously this was not your typical artist. (To protect his identity, and because I’ve conveniently forgotten it, we’ll call him ‘Mr. J’ from now on.)
Minimalist art like Mr. J’s brand of art reminds me not only of my nephew’s masterpieces which we might sell to pay for his future university fees, but also a news story I read once.
This news story tells of a modern art show that came to New York and achieved great acclaim by some art critiques. Emperor’s new clothes art critiques.
After the accolades, it was revealed the paintings were done by elephants holding paintbrushes.
Not surprisingly, my art teacher didn’t find it as amusing as I did when I enlightened him. But like me with Mr. J, my art teacher didn’t get what I was about.
Art history has been about self-expression and challenging the status quo or system or governing or establishment…
… so I have no idea why I didn’t ace it when I challenged his governing by not listening to his ideas like the class status quo, creating my own art outside of the schooling system, which didn’t look like the ones in the art text books, thereby challenging the establishment.
Surely any disobedience by students should have been encouraged and seen as a tribute to the art greats before us.
High school art was perhaps less about revolutions and pushing boundaries, and more ironically about following the established curriculum – and copying, or ‘appropriating’, other people’s ideas. But it was still the best subject at school, don’t get me wrong, AND I even had a good relationship with my teacher who will not be named. Because James Talmad wouldn’t appreciate it.
That isn’t his name by the way. Just put a name in there for a laugh.
Anyway, outside of a little bit of drawing and painting, I haven’t done much art since school. And I definitely haven’t attempted any emperor’s new clothes art.
So in a mad moment where cheeky met procrastination at a right angle, I decided to make a video that Yoko Ono, Andy Warhol and elephants alike would approve of. An art piece that makes no sense – other than the shameless plugging of this blog with assurances it is awesome – in tribute to the art that nobody really understands.
The unveiling of my Blog Trailer in a Modern Art style…