Whilst at some sterile mall somewhere the other day, I was drawn to the promise of starting 2010 early by enlivening it at a calendar kiosk.
Amongst the tat of doe eyed pups, Twilight vampires and Irish valleys was the obligatory ‘art’ section, consisting of Thomas Kinkade, Louis Royo, Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell. Perhaps its something to do with the ever homogenization of modern vacuous culture, but It struck me that the public’s perception of what constitutes ‘art’- which is to say relevant art-is ever diminishing. I had to ask myself, is that a bad thing?
I am reminded of a time, when the section would have been consumed by the usual Impressionist stalwarts and Mucha art nouveau flourishes. The elitism of high brow gallery’s took the lions share of wall space, and if there was any concession to so called low brow, it was through artists like Norman Rockwell and Beryl Cook. Of course there was also Dali and Giger to keep us purists happy, veritable sore thumbs, able to traverse the gaping chasm between both camps with imagery that defied category and the technical virtuosity of an old master.
This isn’t to say, that I don’t find work like Kinkaids execrable-I do-I decry most modern tastes and long for the days when art isn’t relegated to matching the curtains- but because I do, does that mean that it ceases to exist as a yardstick to current cultural ideals? As such it probably inhabits the same space as a Hogarth three hundred years ago, or that poster in the 70’s of a girl in tennis gear flashing her arse cheek. People-unfortunately, are just not that deep, and time, seasons the bubble gum on the sole of history’s shoe with the value of artifact.
An artist friend of mine was once leveled with the charge that their painting was to art, what Merlot was to wine, which was only amusing until you realized how many bottles of Merlot are sold everyday.
Art-it seems, no longer exists in an opulent bubble for the sniffy bourgeois, and like that tremendous scene in the movie Sideways with Paul Giamatti, loses nothing in its flavor when consumed in the context of a fast food joint.