One of the best movies to come out this year was Exit Through the Gift Shop, a documentary by infamous street artist, Banksy, which combined two pleasures of mine: film-making and modern art.
As a former art student and reluctant and bitter film maker, I feel I’m at least somewhat qualified to examine the art world in pop culture whether or not I can hold any feint delusions that I can even begin to understand it.
It seems that art, like film, has become a bit of a trash standard. From the pretentious to the outright brazen, artists want nothing more than all of their work to be subjective. What may be repellent to one viewer should certainly be a masterpiece to someone else. But why? What is art and where should it take us? What makes good art and what makes an artist successful?
Artists in any medium tend to argue that they have something to say; some kind of convoluted, perhaps misinformed or misguided, but certainly original and organic statement to make.
But at some point the bullshit must make a timely and sincere appearance.
From Marcel Duchamp to Mister Brainwash (if he actually exists), an artist can only ride the sincerity train so far. Ultimately, the artist’s most famous work tends to be some kind of inside joke that your chronically depressed art school teacher or friend will convince you is the work of a tortured genius.
We can ride the “art imitates life” carousel all day, but the inescapable fact remains that culture and art will go infinitely hand-in-hand. And that’s the way it should be. It keeps things interesting and keeps people excited. One of the most (if not, the most) successful forms of art and expression have come to be fashion and advertising. This has absolutely influenced most modern art from street artists altering signs and billboards to pop artists playing with the stereotypes of symbolic characters like Mickey Mouse and Ronald McDonald.
And let’s not forget comic books–perhaps the most commercially successful art form that is really only lately getting the true praise it deserves.
From a beautiful song or dance to a disgusting portrayal of two girls finding several unthinkable uses for a single cup, a distinct emotional response should occur. The mystery of human response to stimulating art is probably inexplicable, but psychologists have always pained themselves over some kind of universally objective line of “normalcy.”
Certainly most art is a matter of taste–but should thinking that “the Mona Lisa is too small” or that “Marmaduke was robbed for best picture of the year” land you in a different class of art observer whose opinions shouldn’t count?
Should simply “not getting it” put you in a different league than those who lack the mental capacity TO “get it?”
I think so, but how can we know for sure. Perhaps the reason people don’t “get” certain things is because they really don’t make any logical sense…like that “Cow Tools” Far Side comic that not even artist Gary Larson can fucking explain.
There must be a reason for why we think and feel the things we do about the artistic and/or intellectual work of others. Maybe deep down we just want someone to appreciate something we created, and like us enough to perhaps somewhere down the road have some good ol’ fashioned sex.
Oh, please comment.