Wednesday, April 26, 2017


Editorial Opinion:

I have one strong focus in my life, enjoying all forms of the arts and specifically the visual arts. To put this opinion in perspective, I have supported Obama and the Clintons. I also have an extreme fondness for our founding fathers, especially Thomas Jefferson and I voted for George H.W. Bush's first term. I believe the best governments operate from the center and I consider myself a left leaning centrist!

I have friends who live at the core of the new alt-right constituency. Many of these friends believe the current Republican administration can do no wrong, even as the administration steps on other American's toes, and they seem to be true masters at creating chaos. In a recent nightly news report, when asked about how he can operate surrounded by chaos, Donald Trump's response was, "I am the storm!" That explains everything.

It is very upsetting to think America's Republican Congressional Majority may decide to eliminate all cultural, arts and humanities funding! This myopic decision would negatively impact the museums, cultural and educational institutions of America's heartland the most, where private funding is scarce! All who work in the arts feel as if we have been thrown under the bus with this budget proposal, but we also feel the pain of many other American interest groups whose voices are no longer being heard. This administration has ushered in an era of "Business First" (it often feels like "Ego First") more than "America First." There is a disconnect between many things President Trump says and the actions he takes - like saying he wants to protect our water supplies and our environment, yet proposes to defund or eliminate the EPA.

Back to art. A conservative friend sent me an article, (reprinted at the bottom of my essay) where the author believes art should be "regulated" or "graded" as to what art should be anointed as good and what art should be considered as bad. To me, the author's own words answered his question:
Q: "... why do we have to be victims of all this bad taste? We don’t. By the art we patronize... or purchase at galleries, we can make our opinions not only known but felt. An art gallery, after all, is a business like any other. If the product doesn’t sell, it won’t be made.... And we can advocate the teaching of classical art appreciation in our schools. Let’s celebrate what we know is good and ignore what we know is not."

A:Today, classical art appreciation "is taught" at the university level, and all galleries only present the art they display, n
obody is forcing any art patron to buy art they do not like! The patrons who like certain artworks, buy them and the patrons who don't like a work of art or an art show, buy something else! There are many paintings in the classical realistic style being painted every year, there are plenty of pretty photographs being taken and offered for sale, and there is no lack of "beautiful art" being made in every medium, today. Classical art is still appreciated by many and the market for it is robust. Also available in an open art market is contemporary and conceptual art plus art that pushes the envelope of acceptance. Public funding for edgy art is a debate we should have, but there is no reason to eliminate any form of art, simply to help people who don't understand it, feel less uncomfortable about it! 

I see a tremendous amount of art, and 80% of all the art I see, I personally don't appreciate! That is true of almost everyone with an opinion about art. The rub comes with the fact that the 80% of unappreciated art varies for every single person - in the rotation, someone ends up liking every work of art presented. So exactly whose 80% of unappreciated art should we discard? Art cannot be controlled, if we want our culture to stay relevant. 

Yes, I LIKE THE ART I LIKE and the other 80% I walk away from. So let's agree to allow me to be me and I will let you be you, then we will all be happy! There is no harm in having widely different opinions about art!

This concept of a selected group of people determining what art should be considered "good" or "bad", goes against the concept of an ever-evolving culture and creativity itself. The early Egyptians imposed rules on their art and for 3,000 years there was no real progress or change in their art or design. 

Please let's allow the art market to shake itself out. With the test of time, the cream will always rise to the top and any flash-in-the-pan artworks will naturally fade away. "Vive la différence!" - yes, Long Live the Difference, it is what makes life interesting.

- Jack Atkinson 
Editor & Publisher ARTSnFOOD

Let's demand classical standards for the art world.

By Robert Florczak for Prager University

“The Mona Lisa”... “The Pieta”... “The Girl with a Pearl Earring.” For a score of centuries, artists enriched Western society with their works of astonishing beauty. “The Night Watch”... “The Thinker”... “The Rocky Mountains.” Master after master, from Leonardo, to Rembrandt, to Bierstadt, produced works that inspired, uplifted, and deepened us. And they did this by demanding of themselves the highest standards of excellence, improving upon the work of each previous generation of masters, and continuing to aspire to the highest quality attainable. But something happened on the way to the 20th Century. The profound, the inspiring and the beautiful were replaced by the new, the different, and the ugly. Today the silly, the pointless, and the purely offensive are held up as the best of modern art. Michelangelo carved his “David” out of a rock. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art just offers us a rock, -- a rock -- all 340 tons of it. That’s how far standards have fallen. How did this happen? How did the thousand-year ascent towards artistic perfection and excellence die out? It didn’t. It was pushed out. Beginning in the late 19th century, a group dubbed The Impressionists rebelled against the French Academie des Beaux Arts and its demand for classical standards. Whatever their intentions, the new modernists sowed the seeds of aesthetic relativism -- the “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” mentality. Today everybody loves the Impressionists. And, as with most revolutions, the first generation or so produced work of genuine merit. Monet, Renoir, and Degas still maintained elements of disciplined design and execution, but with each new generation standards declined until there were no standards. All that was left was personal expression. The great art historian Jacob Rosenberg wrote that quality in art “is not merely a matter of personal opinion but to a high degree . . . objectively traceable.” But the idea of a universal standard of quality in art is now usually met with strong resistance if not open ridicule. “How can art be objectively measured?” I’m challenged. In responding, I simply point to the artistic results produced by universal standards compared to what is produced by relativism. The former gave the world “The Birth of Venus” and “The Dying Gaul,” while the latter has given us “The Holy Virgin Mary,” fashioned with cow dung and pornographic images, and “Petra,” the prize-winning sculpture of a policewoman squatting and urinating -- complete with a puddle of synthetic urine. Without aesthetic standards we have no way to determine quality or inferiority. Here’s a test.... I give to my students. Please analyze this Jackson Pollock painting and explain why it is good. It is only after they give very eloquent answers that I inform them that the painting is actually a close up of my studio apron. I don’t blame them; I would probably have done the same since it’s nearly impossible to differentiate between the two. “And who will determine quality?” is another challenge I’m given. If we are to be intellectually honest, we all know of situations where professional expertise is acknowledged and depended upon. Take figure skating in the Olympics, where artistic excellence is judged by experts in the field. Surely we would flinch at the contestant who indiscriminately threw himself across the ice and demanded that his routine be accepted as being as worthy of value as that of the most disciplined skater. Not only has the quality of art diminished, but also the subject matter has gone from the transcendent to the trashy. Where once artists applied their talents to scenes of substance and integrity from history, literature, religion, mythology, etc., many of today’s artists merely use their art to make statements, often for nothing more than shock value. Artists of the past also made statements at times, but never at the expense of the visual excellence of their work. It’s not only artists who are at fault; it is equally the fault of the so-called art community: the museum heads, gallery owners, and the critics who encourage and financially enable the production of this rubbish. It is they who champion graffiti and call it genius, promote the scatological and call it meaningful. It is they who, in reality, are the naked emperors of art, for who else would spend $10 million dollars on a rock and think it is art. But why do we have to be victims of all this bad taste? We don’t. By the art we patronize at museums or purchase at galleries, we can make our opinions not only known but felt. An art gallery, after all, is a business like any other. If the product doesn’t sell, it won’t be made. We can also support organizations like The Art Renewal Center that work to restore objective standards to the art world. And we can advocate the teaching of classical art appreciation in our schools. Let’s celebrate what we know is good and ignore what we know is not. By the way, the white background you see behind me (in the video) is not simply a white graphic backdrop. It is a pure white painting by noted artist Robert Rauschenberg at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
- Robert Florczak"
Prager University

Until later, 

ARTSnFOOD is an online magazine dedicated to providing artists and collectors around the world with highlights of current art exhibitions, and to encourage all readers to invest in and participate in “The Joy of Art”® and culture. All Right Reserved. All concepts, original art, text & photography, which are not otherwise credited, are © copyright 2017 by Jack A. Atkinson, under all international, intellectual property and copyright laws. All gallery event museum, fair or festival photographs were taken with permission. All images of artworks are © individual artists, fabricators, respective owners or assignees.

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