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  #1  
Old 05-21-2008, 10:12 AM
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GlennT GlennT is offline
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Why these strong opinions?

I was thinking about why I have such strong opinions about certain types of sculpture and artwork, especially having reviewed some work among the sculptors who were listed here as member's top 10 living sculptor favorites.

I came to an important realization: It has to do with my view of the relation of sculpture to civilization and culture.

The modern works that I am at best indifferent to, and more likely to be disgusted with, are bothersome because they mock or attack the culture and civilization in which we live. What is significant here is that I do not react the same way when this is done through music, film, or theater. Good parody in these media I often find funny and enjoyable.

Sculpture is typically a more permanent media and its role throughout history has often been iconic. Music, film, and theater can produce a classic, but because of the motion involved in each, it is more fleeting, of the moment, and not iconic.

Sculpture tells the story of an age, relating to the viewer what characteristics, themes, emotions, and experiences were important and valued. Good sculpture expresses an insight into the character of a people, and of its spirit. If the values are different from our own, at least it can be said that the works of past ages stood for something.

The modern works that I dislike do not stand for anything...they mock current culture, and are full of self-loathing. When this is put into iconic form, it is nauseating because there is nothing one can identify with to strive for or emmulate. It seems the product of a spiritual vacum. What would a future age, living with a completely different mindset, think of our era in history if all that remained to tell the story were works that pointed out through mockery how bad a particular aspect of society, politics, or popular culture was?

What could such works tell the future about what we valued, what we aspired to learn or to achieve?

As with any person's perspective, there are works that could contradict my expressed concerns in a way that I would not find fault with. for example, Blake's "Fragments" exhibition is a type of protest art, calling attention to the careless and inhumane dangers of landmines. Here, the difference is felt in the expression of heart in the artist's work. He is not using mockery, not hitting you over the head with anger or a smug sense of self-righteousness, or treating the viewer as a simpleton who needs to be dramatically shocked in order to get the point. Rather, he uses poetic beauty and grace, lets insight come to the viewer on their own terms instead of force-feeding a bunch of exclamation points of an idea. His work respects rather than attacks the viewer.

Another type of work that on the surface may seem to contradict my perspective is the light-hearted, comical type works. Again, with these, it is factor of the artist's heart. Such works can be found in the historical stream as well, and they add a richness to our understanding of a given culture. Again, it is because they stand for something positive, which is the humor in life. When the humor turns to sarcasm and cynicism, then it may be less likely to warrant the responsibilities of creation in a permanent medium.

So, I hope this may help in understanding "why the strong opinions". There is an almost sacred reverence that I have toward sculpture and its place in history, at least the sculpture that moves and inspires me the most.

GlennT

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Old 05-21-2008, 10:49 AM
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Re: Why these strong opinions?

I would suggest that artworks needn't bother to hold any historical significance at all. Nor need they offer anything to the future. And works that directly reference a period, by historical events OR art trends, do not fulfill the potential of Art as trebuchet - a propeller of the individual towards trancendence. Visual arts are the highest human pursuit BECAUSE it can speak with infinite vocabulary, infinite language...Music is great too, but can only affect through hearing...an inferior route to the intellect. Philosophy, poetry, physics, fiction; all that stuff scribbled-down on paper, is severely limited by the small number of letters, words and symbols available.
My opinions too are strong - and when I like an artwork, even if it happens to be a portrait of a president, I like it because it exceeded expectations and obviously chanced failure. The things going on inside the heads of Michelangelo and Jackson Pollock were not very different at all.

Last edited by evaldart : 05-21-2008 at 11:55 AM.
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Old 05-21-2008, 11:33 AM
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Re: Why these strong opinions?

<<eveldart...
Michelangelo and Jackson Pollock were not very different at all.>>

That I think is the essential diference between what GleanT and eveldart are writting. Mike is referential to anything except himself. Biography is not necessary to his work. He only ever signed one work. Pollock is self-referential and biography is very necessary. Would an unsigned Pollock be of value?

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Old 05-21-2008, 01:22 PM
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Re: Why these strong opinions?

I too have strong opinions about the sculpture I like v.s. the sculpture I don't. Mainly it's because I'm a representational sculptor and the world of abstract is another language which I can only speak in "broken abstract". It takes a great and rare work of abstract to really impress me (this forum however brings many together in one place and I've seen more abstract work that I like in here than out in the real world). I guess for me it comes down to the idea that many of these works, I know I can recreate with little effort and probably better composition, but I know the artist who created them doesn't have the skill set to sculpt the human form as well as I do. Maybe this is pety of me, but it's how I feel. This is the driving force behind my opinions of many abstract work. Just this past weekend I was in an Art Fair in Beverly Hills, where I was next to an abstract artist. His work (in my opinion) was SHIT. But yet he sold a sculpture for $10,000 and yet my work went unsold. I don't blame the person who purchased the work, taste is a very personal thing and anyone who l;ikes abstract is probably not going to even look twice at figurative sculpture. But the artist on the other hand, created work of no substance, it added nothing to the language of art. Simple shapes, clumsilly arranged, and poorly painted (not patinaed). It was the work of a 4 year old child playing with colorforms and building blocks. This anger I have towards work like that is all based on what I said earlier. If I can make it just as easily and they can't do what I can do then I bothers me.

But when it comes to music, I'm not that way. People play different styles of music and some never learn to play a second one. In this analogy, Art and music would be the same and the styles would be the different types of art like figurative and abstract. I like all kinds of music and don't look down on artist who don't make the kind of music I like, but when it comes to sculpture, I can't seem to let go of that bias.

Oh well, they're all just opinions.

Alfred
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Old 05-21-2008, 01:49 PM
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Re: Why these strong opinions?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GlennT View Post
I was thinking about why I have such strong opinions... GlennT

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Well, it's all those seaweed milkshakes and barnicle broths.
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Old 05-21-2008, 05:14 PM
Giotto Giotto is offline
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Re: Why these strong opinions?

"Would an unsigned Pollock be of value?"

Robert,

This is one of the most intelligent comments I have read in some time. The opposite is also true "What would a unsigned Rembrandt be worth ?" Quite a bit I would suspect and that is because most of his work has stood the test of time...He was an acknowledged master of his craft. His nuance of expression and subtlety of detail are there for anyone who wishes to take the time to look. Jackson Pollock, on the other hand, has thousands of "knock off" copies floating around out there making a unsigned one worth little
G
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Old 05-21-2008, 05:17 PM
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Re: Why these strong opinions?

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Originally Posted by evaldart View Post
The things going on inside the heads of Michelangelo and Jackson Pollock were not very different at all.


I don't know how you became privy to their inner musings, but my guess is that it may be just some disembodied spirits posing as those two and having fun with you.

If you are referring to things like Michelangelo thinking , " uh, oh, its time to go to the bathroom and I'm way up on top of this scaffolding" vs. Pollock's " I think I'll just pee on the floor, or on this canvas, same diff.." then, sure, there is a similarity.

If you were referring to their thoughts about art, (and here, I exercise severe linguistic restraint) permit me to doubt!

Regarding seaweed milkshakes and barnacle broth, those may cause strong breath but a variety of opinions.
BTW StevenW, what dietary elements caused the blue skin, flattened cranium, and 90 degree projecting ears of your portrait icon?
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Old 05-21-2008, 05:26 PM
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Re: Why these strong opinions?

I don't think he was speaking about precise thoughts, but rather in generalities... The same kinds of questions are posed to all of us when we create, they may be wildly different in every instance, but yet they're the same.. A little red here or yellow there, a little negative space that way and some curvature this way.. The questions and answers and directions each person faces are unique, but the act or creating must in some way be very similar.
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Old 05-21-2008, 06:09 PM
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Re: Why these strong opinions?

I think at the heart of this is the whole idea of what the actual role of art is in a given culture. So too you may ask what is the role of each person in a culture. Some people are public figures, wear ties, stand up straight and probably don't have spinach on their tie. Then there's the guy in the audience who saved up to buy a ticket to see tie man. He does have spinach on his tie, only owns brown shoes, and speaks intelligently about what tie man speaks of. He is prone to glaring at people who treat waiters rudely and may accidentally touch cocktail sauce onto his neighbor's sleeve as he makes a valid point about tie man. Spinach man is intellectually equal or superior to anyone in the room, but may be looked upon with disdain anyway, because in a line-up, he will not look as pretty. Is he a less valid reflection of his views because of the spinach, Or, can you say spinach man is pretty dang insightful, I never thought about things the way he does...
So why do you dismiss art without silk ties?
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Old 05-21-2008, 07:14 PM
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Re: Why these strong opinions?

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Originally Posted by GlennT View Post


I don't know how you became privy to their inner musings, but my guess is that it may be just some disembodied spirits posing as those two and having fun with you.

If you are referring to things like Michelangelo thinking , " uh, oh, its time to go to the bathroom and I'm way up on top of this scaffolding" vs. Pollock's " I think I'll just pee on the floor, or on this canvas, same diff.." then, sure, there is a similarity.

If you were referring to their thoughts about art, (and here, I exercise severe linguistic restraint) permit me to doubt!

Regarding seaweed milkshakes and barnacle broth, those may cause strong breath but a variety of opinions.
BTW StevenW, what dietary elements caused the blue skin, flattened cranium, and 90 degree projecting ears of your portrait icon?
Oh, I'm plenty privy...it can be a curse.

Michelangelo matured beyond the silliness of skill after Pieta. That piece showed him what Art was really about and that the REAL work was not going to be about the rendering nor the representation. The greatest things accomplishable lied in the connection to the act...and that it would be no SMALL act - that beget the rewards. The artists, such as he and his 20th century brethern, Pollock, knew how to make matter significant - and when all their peers were obviously floundering in their efforts to out-duplicate each other, it became crystal-clear to our heros that the goods arrived by any OTHER method.

I couldn't say whats worse - bad abstraction or bad figuration, theres plenty of it everywhere in my opinion (but I bet the bad figuration takes longer to foul-up). But Opinions only matter to their holders. And if you find your opinion is not changing you must look to your own work and see that it is probably not changing either. But far more important than just what it looks like is that it is approached now and then at a level that abandons excuses and tears your life apart (it can be mended). If you're just accumulating skill on little statues or reducing your little compositions to geo-minimal-concepteo-blobs, your opinion might be the only thing all those peers hold in high regard.

Strong opinions, though, evidence a confidence and self-assuredness that is indeed the first step to doing great things. We should feel lucky to have them. But there does exist within the mind of the exceptional individual an opinio-darwinism that allows for a constant morphing caused by the diminishing of one motivating entity and its eventual devouring by a mutant...an abomination that sets the new standard, puts that exceptional person in a new place - with newer stronger opinions that leave the peers another notch deeper in their floundering.

Last edited by evaldart : 05-21-2008 at 08:19 PM.
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  #11  
Old 05-21-2008, 08:48 PM
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Re: Why these strong opinions?

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Michelangelo matured beyond the silliness of skill after Pieta.

This is new to me. As I understand it, skill is an accomplishment whereby one transcends an earlier lack of skill, and now has greater means with which to do things. What is silly about that?

What seems silly to me is how one fails to use ones skill, or uses skill to say nothing, but with great skill. The fault is in the mind (invention) and not the hand ( skill).


That piece showed him what Art was really about and that the REAL work was not going to be about the rendering nor the representation. The greatest things accomplishable lied in the connection to the act...and that it would be no SMALL act - that beget the rewards.
Well, I agree that it should require dismissal of rendering and representation to appreciate Jackson Pollock.
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Old 05-21-2008, 09:16 PM
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Re: Why these strong opinions?

The world is a sphere, made of countless spheres, moving in circular cycles. Any journey that heads in a straight line will eventually arrive back at it's starting point. Any and all strong opinions find their opposite on the other side of the same coin.

My thinking is that if GlennT lives long enough and stays true to his course he'll eventually value what he currently sees as crap as much as he currently devalues it. Or not.
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Old 05-21-2008, 09:17 PM
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Re: Why these strong opinions?

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My thinking is that if GlennT lives long enough and stays true to his course he'll eventually value what he currently sees as crap as much as he currently devalues it. Or not.
Let's go with not.
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Old 05-21-2008, 09:32 PM
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Re: Why these strong opinions?

Through Christ, one can learn to forgive even the worst sculptural offenders. Strong opinions are easy, balancing in the middle, tricky.
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Old 05-21-2008, 10:41 PM
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Re: Why these strong opinions?

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Through Christ, one can learn to forgive even the worst sculptural offenders. Strong opinions are easy, balancing in the middle, tricky.
Through Christ one can learn discernment.

One must seek forgiveness before it is granted.

Forgiving a transgression is not the same as accepting a transgression, otherwise forgiveness would serve little purpose. The hope is to learn and do better.

What is a balanced in the middle opinion?:

" Gee, as an object d'art, that dead shark in the aquarium is not quite my cup of tea, but shucks, what the hey, neat idea!"
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Old 05-21-2008, 10:44 PM
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Re: Why these strong opinions?

Figuration and abstraction shouldn't be polar opposites. They should be polar BEARS. If you're gunning for the biggest prize, both can take it down. Depends on your aim and whether or not you can even see that far.

Anyone can hit the paper-plate at ten paces with a pea-shooter...and so many do just that; and get damn good at it too..
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Old 05-21-2008, 11:07 PM
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Re: Why these strong opinions?

By the way, my own diatribe is not directed at abstract art. Some of the works I found most repulsive in that top 10 group were figurative.
Many of the abstract artists who post here do work that I highly appreciate.

Another way to look at it though my eyes is to evaluate art with this question,

" Is this work a chalice for holding light or offering a cup of darkness?"

I affirm that I am rooting for the light. No amount of psychobabble mind-gaming is going to have me deciding to like the darkness, insofar as these terms are defined in my spritual world-view.
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Old 05-22-2008, 03:15 AM
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Re: Why these strong opinions?

Hate......hates......Hate. A visceral circle that never ends. The only way to end the cycle is to seek it's center. Conversly ....Love.....loves..... love. The fear that people have of a centered perspective is that they'll lose that cycle as well. Better to hate( or to put it mildly...dislike ) and have strong opinions than lose the love. The centered perspective feels so rational, passionless and unfeeling, unhuman, machine like. All the great teachers, Jesus included, saw the light and darkness as one and the same. Few want to love their enemy, it's just not popular.

Can one transcende the human condition and make great sculpture ? Seems one excludes the other.
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Old 05-22-2008, 03:21 AM
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Re: Why these strong opinions?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alfred View Post
In this analogy, Art and music would be the same and the styles would be the different types of art like figurative and abstract. I like all kinds of music and don't look down on artist who don't make the kind of music I like, but when it comes to sculpture, I can't seem to let go of that bias. Alfred
I don't think the bias is figurative/abstract Alfred,
just returning to the music/sculpture analogy,

I love allsorts of music also

the problem , is with the person who only picked up a guitar 3 weeks ago and (to an audience) attempts to express themselves with it.
or worse, when they try to convince me that what I'm listening to has merit.
(except of course the 'smoke on the water' riff)

attempting to express themselves or some concept through sculpture without
a good working knowledge of the medium, is great when my kids are doing it,
but then they don't take themselves seriously.
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Old 05-22-2008, 06:33 AM
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Re: Why these strong opinions?

the extent of your responsibilities
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Last edited by grommet : 05-22-2008 at 07:25 AM.
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Old 05-22-2008, 08:21 AM
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Re: Why these strong opinions?

Why do people reject people like Pollock when his paintings are full of rythym, control, energy?

It wasnt just pouring paint randomly over canvas. Thats what 16 year old art students think. If you see a Pollock in real life same with a Rothko, and give it time, it does something, things jump out, contrast, pulse etc. If I am mistaken, I will never do anything artistic again and just do design.

The great modernists were I think more connected with art of the past with concentration on aesthetics than todays 'post modern' artists such as most of the YBAS etc. A denial of skill or the monumental. I would love to have a conversation with someone such as Michael Craig Martin (who did the oaktree), it would be enlightening to try to fully grasp the conceptual art that does nothing for me.

This movement I only see what Andy Worhol etc were playing out years ago and now its past its sell by date.

Mind you I quite like Hurst's chrystal skull, as it epitomises the bling culture just before the global credit crunch and I feel will be highly representative of that time in art history to come.

Next time you read a modern sculpture book, I for one notice that the art that annoys me is from the last ten years (mainly Londoncentric) and I love the rest. So I see this YBA type art that also goes on in America no more laating than say punk. A relevant movement but not something that inspires me greatly.
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Old 05-22-2008, 08:38 AM
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Re: Why these strong opinions?

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l All the great teachers, Jesus included, saw the light and darkness as one and the same.

Are we talking about the same guy who cast out demons, rebuked the pharisees, cast the money-changers out of the temple, resisted the temptations of satan, said "I come not to bring peace but a sword" ( cleaving the real from the unreal), and " thine enemies be they of thine own household...who are thy brothers and sisters...they that believe in the God." ?

If Jesus thought light and darkness were one and the same, he sure went to a lot of trouble to differentiate. All the fuss got him into some trouble, too as I recall.



Few want to love their enemy, it's just not popular.

The point of loving your enemy is not to change your mind into thinking that the wrongs that they do are right, in some koombaya moment of grinning stupidly in the face of evil. The point is to love the speck of light that is veiled in darkness, to let the light of love swallow up the darkness to redeem the light, letting the love be the judgement upon that darkness, and maintaining the vibration of love rather than succumbing to hate...for your own well being.

So, to bring this back into the sculptural context, I can look at works that appear as manifestations of "darkness" ..."evil works", disliking and challenging such works if needed, but still realizing that the artist is a soul who has the opportunity to emerge from darkness into light. So I love the orginal seed and the ultimate potential of the soul, the inner self that is temporarily hidden behind the clouds, while not supporting the current ( but changeable) state of abuse of opportunity.


Can one transcende the human condition and make great sculpture ? Seems one excludes the other.

Not sure I understand the question. Great sculpture is generally the result of transcending some form of limitation to arrive there. Also, nature has transcended the limitations of the human condition to create the greatest sculpture on the planet.

"I Am the Light of the World" *

* to which, in the 21st century, I add this footnote specifying that by light, I mean light, and am not in any way referring to darkness. Also let it be known that I am referring to spiritual light, in as much as I have nothing against darkness of outerspace, nightime, or as a by-product of the natural color spectrum. For the complete DVD collection of what I actually said, and what I meant by what I said, and a bonus DVD of why I said it, please send $33 in self-addressed, stamped envelope to....

Last edited by GlennT : 05-22-2008 at 10:21 AM. Reason: clarification
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Old 05-22-2008, 11:41 AM
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Re: Why these strong opinions?

"Nature" is performance art...spectacle, drama, theatre, event. Besides, everything it does happens because it HAS to; purely functional. I'd call it craft. Real art must exist outside of utility, its applications should be indeterminable...the natural product of something living aloft - confounding all observances, aspiring to be better than useful, angering voids by filling them with matter they did not need or want.
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Old 05-22-2008, 01:26 PM
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Re: Why these strong opinions?

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I was thinking about why I have such strong opinions about certain types of sculpture and artwork, especially having reviewed some work among the sculptors who were listed here as member's top 10 living sculptor favorites.
I tend to see a "strong reaction" as a sure sign of a successful artwork - even if that reaction is one of distain.

Quote:
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The modern works that I dislike do not stand for anything...they mock current culture, and are full of self-loathing. When this is put into iconic form, it is nauseating because there is nothing one can identify with to strive for or emmulate. It seems the product of a spiritual vacum. What would a future age, living with a completely different mindset, think of our era in history if all that remained to tell the story were works that pointed out through mockery how bad a particular aspect of society, politics, or popular culture was?
I wonder if you are are looking for more in works than is actually there. I can't think of a single sculptor on my top ten list that exemplify any of the qualities that you list above. Perhaps you are so dismissive of some art because you suspect you are not "getting" something about the work?
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Old 05-22-2008, 01:56 PM
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Re: Why these strong opinions?

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I tend to see a "strong reaction" as a sure sign of a successful artwork - even if that reaction is one of distain.

Thanks. That is an insightful and clarifying truth of your perspective. As a piece of "art", a child hanging from a noose would exlicit a strong reaction and be successful under those terms, whereas the Venus de Milo might fail to qualify.

I wonder if you are are looking for more in works than is actually there.

Precisely. Another astute observation!

I can't think of a single sculptor on my top ten list that exemplify any of the qualities that you list above.

Yep. We are reaching an understanding.


Perhaps you are so dismissive of some art because you suspect you are not "getting" something about the work?
What I am not "getting" is what has not been given and is therefore missing.
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