Panorama view of exhibition in Jedlitschka Gallery, Zurich.

Panorama view of exhibition in Jedlitschka Gallery, Zurich.

21 January 2014

Alex Meszmer: So That is Art? Und das ist Kunst?

First published Match 16, 2008

Belcher_cartoon_nutshell.jpg
Cartoon by Moogee the Art Dog, Nottingham UK

Art is booming and the auction houses are rubbing their hands with glee. After the short dry spell, one is allowed to hype again. And the transition within the art academies from the European system to a modified Anglo Bachelor and Masters system will certainly contribute to the cause of manifesting and solidifying the new Academicism.

The development, or progression, of art no longer(?) lies in the hands of artists, who would now much rather insert themselves comfortably into the system, having little desire to concentrate on the development of personal ideas, much preferring to ask for simple survival strategies. Thus exhibitions are filled with a new form of fickle superficiality, the obligation for which is equally borne by artists as well when we play along on every level as Class Clowns.

Every little village and every office building enjoys garnishing itself with art, without ever considering quality or the criteria for it. And on every corner waits a "hungry" artist who is only too eager to grasp any opportunity to place his or her art.

Exaggerated or too assertively formulated?

Let's rub our eyes and then look clearly at reality, for it does not look all that rosy. Once upon a time (O God, now I sound like my own grandmother!), as the daily newspapers still contained a tiny niche for art criticism, art was fervently discussed, controversies were carried out, and it was possible for one still to feel misunderstood as an artist. Now the only feeling left to less successful or ignored artists is resignation.

In his book Und ist das Kunst?, Hanno Rautenberg describes how the power of the marketplace has made an impact on art and does not shy away from applying unsparing criticism and analysis of the situation --- so clearly that as an artist one would rather stop creating (so that one does come under contract with an international Super-Gallery). Rautenberg names 10 Errors of Contemporary Art which have creeped into our artworld through this development:

1. The Lack of Criterion for What Distinguishes Ostensibly Good Art

2. The Continuous Seach for the New in Art, i.e. the Avant-Garde Notion

3. The Belief that Provocation must Arise from Good Art

4. That Good Art must be Truthful

5. That Craft and Ability is Not Necessary for Good Art

6. The Attitude of Ritual Rejection Dominating Art

7. The Belief that Anything Can Be Art

8. The Belief that a Good Artist Will Be Misunderstood, Will Have to Struggle

9. The Belief that Art must be Critical in Order to be Good

10. That Without Good Ideas There is No Good Art

The Situation appears so tricky or dodgy that there seems to be no exit. Rautenberg finds one in the consumers, the perceivers of art, who each must develop his or her own quality- consciousness which then can, perhaps, finally have an effect on the marketplace. Then an individual awareness of and attentiveness to evaluation can be built which could make the perceiver into a mature, responsible and empowered viewer.

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