Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sophistication by Association . . .

Inspired by the comments from my last post.

Subjectivity and varying tastes certainly account for most of the "I don't get it" 's in the world. But there are some things that are so obvious there must be another explanation. Thus my theory of sophistication by association. People who don't know what great ____ is so they claim to like certain things as to avoid the implication of being a rube.

This certainly would explain so-called modern art. Now I know art is subjective, but anyone who believes Andy Warhol's Soup can painting is great art and worth millions is suffering from some as yet undefined social dysfunction.

In comparison, I don't get the Mona Lisa. But I can understand why some do. That smile does have an enigmatic quality to it. Probably unintended by the artist, which means it transcends it's intent.

For me, the best example is Monet. Monet is not a great artist. The New Orleans Museum of Art has quite a few Monet's in its collection. But the other impressionists on display are far superior. Not only in technique, but in vision, and content.

So how do I account for Monet's high standing. He's got a great sounding name. Besides, compared to the other impressionists, his name is far easier to pronounce and remember. I think throughout history, the average guy hears the name Monet, sees his paintings in Museums, and "thinks" he's a great artist. And Mr. Average doesn't want to sound dumb at parties, so he tells the woman he's trying to impress "I sho like that Monet. He paints real good." Okay, maybe I went too far. It would sound more like this: "Oh yeah, Monet. He's fantastic." At the same time, Mr. Average is thinking he's only heard that Monet is great and he can only think of that one painting with the lily pads which doesn't seem all that great-I mean it ain't The Last Supper or the Sistine Chapel, but Miss Hottie sure seems impressed. Mission accomplished.

Btw, if you want to see great art - go here:

If you really want to be impressed, go to her gallery and click on the paintings and read her comments. Also read some of her poetry. Note her age for each painting or poem.

For an example, check out this painting of Jesus and the poem that goes with it that she did when she was 8:


Kay said...

I've been to Akaine's pages before. She brings me to tears!

A lot depends on personal taste and what an individual deems good art.

But I agree with you that many people just don't want to seem stupid. "Maybe because I think Charles Shultz was great artist, people with think I'm dumb." Well, say what you think and let them think what they want, I say.

I personally like Monet, although I wouldn't want one in my house. My taste in art is as varied as my taste in everything! LOL
I like some primative folk art, but I also love Van Gogh and Renoir, and Rembrandt is one of my favorites, if I can look at the real thing in real life.
And Homer, especially his watercolors, and Hopper's crisp pieces. Klimt has some things I like and I like some of Picasso's simple line drawings.
And Dali. I like Dali.
I prefer Warhol to Pollock, although not the soup cans. Or the Marilyn heads. LOL

Ok, now I want to go to a museum. They are all so much better in person. The only art museums I've been to are the National Gallery and the... oh I forget. Some modern art place in DC. It's been too long.

Todd said...

Well, I am sophisticated - I am no rube - I get all of these artists! I love whatever is popularly agreed to as being great. And, I do see the Emperor's new outfit - I love it!

Dayle James Arceneaux said...

I with you on Charles Schultz, Kay.

For clarification, I'm not saying Monet is bad. What I am saying is that compared to his contemporaries, he is average at best.

My favorites are Vermeer and Rockwell. Honorable mention to Albert Bierstadt.

I do like the ones you mentioned, especially Rembrandt.

Dayle James Arceneaux said...

Hey, Todd. I just spoke to everybody and it's universally agreed that giving me your life's savings is 'in'. It means your hip, cool, phat, or whatever the kids are saying these days.

Todd said...

You betcha ... when you get home check behind your sofa for a big pile of the Emperor's new currency!

Mark H. said...

I think the important thing to note is that popularity does not indicate greatness--but it does not indicate a lack thereof, either. The two are completely divorced.

I think you and I have had this discussion with Shakespeare as well. You have to revere his name if you want to look good at parties. Why can't we judge individual works instead? Like everyone else, some of his works are very good. Some, not so much.

When all else fails, remember my simple rule: If I can re-produce it, it's not art.

XDPaul said...

Monet was a founder of the French Impressionists, not necessarily its chief technician. His primacy is why he's considered great.

Also, he was the most dedicated practicioner of Impressionism. His cataracts certainly affected his later works.

Think of it this way: eighty years from now, George Lucas will probably be viewed as the "master" of blockbuster special effects movies, but individual, later practicioners such as James Cameron (Titanic) or the Wachowski brothers (Matrix and its infamous "bullet time" photography) will be viewed as greater technical practitioners.

Monet's greatest works, in short, are iconic. The peers who followed him, even the greats, were, by definition, derivative.