Art Depreciation 101

monkey lisa

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Let’s just say I know a thing or two about being an artist. I used to paint, OK? In NYC. and Chicago. One of my colleagues in New York was fond of saying that painters were a rung below poets on the ladder of occupations. In other words, no one cares. Or they will go to hear a poet before they will come to your art opening. The only people, really, who care about painting are other painters. And if you are a painter they probably don’t like your work either.

“Artistic Expression”

The Art World (capital A Art, capital W World) is pretty impenetrable. I get that. Frankly, art appreciation has been a problem ever since Marcel Duchamp said that whatever an artist points to and calls art, is art. Not only did that open the door to anything being declared art, it opened the door to any jackass that self identified as an artist calling anything art. So now we have hundreds of different¬† media from video to dirt being used for “artistic expression”.


Of course, Duchamp was just leveling the playing field because everyone else in the world is an art critic. Everyone else in the world points at art they don’t understand and/or don’t like and declare, “That’s not art.” Most people who have no art background still think Norman Rockwell or the Poker Playing Dogs are the high water marks of art. More sophisticated types (who maybe took an art history survey class in college) might up the ante by mentioning Andrew Wyeth.

Or John Singer Sargent. Suggest that what good contemporary painting you might find actually traces back through Balthus, to Cezanne to Poussin to Giotto, and people will look at you like you have two heads.

Why I quit painting

I quit painting ten years ago because it became apparent to me that it is a dead medium.¬† Look around in any museum and then look around in any contemporary art gallery. It’s all been done far better in the past than anybody is doing it now. Anybody. Contemporary realist painting really is crap. There are no modern masters.

Nobody is making paintings like Soutine or Matisse or Cezanne or Goya. There’s some tight realist work being done, but the French Academy did it better: is anyone today painting as well as Ingres? Hell no. It’s all copied from photographs, all surface with no idea of how to make form or how to compose; all pretense and fluff made by hobbyist housewives who are “fascinated” by color. If you are a wannabe realist painter reading this, sorry.

How to feel better about yourself

It’s a hair shirt occupation. You will get more satisfaction and positive reinforcement as a crack whore. And you will feel better about yourself at the end of the day. Seriously.

“Of course you want to be an artist. Everybody does, once. But they get over it, like measles and chicken pox.” ~ Gully Jimson, “The Horses Mouth” by Joyce Carey.

No one really paints anymore. They make commodities. Pretty designer crap to hang on the walls that match the sofa and drapes. Nothing wrong with having pretty crap hanging on the walls, but call it what it is.

Interior decorating.
I like what Henri Matisse said: “I don’t paint things. I only paint the difference between things.” The difference between things is where the art lives. That’s why in a world of Hi Def viewing where everything is the same between things, painting is dead.

Which is fine with me, frankly. I’d rather watch a movie in 1080p.

Dunce 3

5 thoughts on “Art Depreciation 101

  1. Feel your pain, Dunce 3. I used to write poetry. And even if that apparently put me one rung above you, we would both be so far below supermodels and professional athletes, we might as well not even be on the ladder at all.

    Poetry, too, is a dead art. Unless you are a celebrity, or writing something “edgy” and “controversial,” no one cares. Have you noticed that about the arts? The only people they let succeed are people with money or people it would be politically incorrect not to support. What happened to art for art’s sake? Real beauty? Truth?

    Don’t you kind of hate “hi def” and all that it entails? It’s like we’re trying to improve on reality. For me, it just cheapens and artificializes everything. For me, I like “real life/real experience” just fine. You can’t improve on that.

  2. Are you done writing poetry?

    I have no problem with good hi def, but there are also plenty of weenies out there elevating anything that is low fi, as if primitive production values are a sign of something good.

      • Also, techno-phobe though I am, I’m not completely dissing on all modern technology. And rockin’ low fi like it’s old school legit would be like buying a brand new ride and putting in an 8-track for your sound system. That’s not down; that’s just stupid. Older does not always equal better. With wine, maybe. But I can think of plenty of exceptions…

  3. Dunce Two, I love Hi Def.
    One of the problems representational painters have had to confront is the problem of representing a 3D space on 2D surface. “The Birth and Rebirth of Pictorial Space” by JohnWhite is the classic treatment of this issue. Cyberspace has pretty much made the painter’s rectangle obsolete: CAD would have made Alberti and Brunelleschi and anyone else producing prospectiva pigendi jizz their pants.
    3D on the other hand fails to impress. If I want 3D I’ll watch something besides TV. I already have to wear glasses.

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