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The Forum > Article Comments > Conceptual art and the loss of painting > Comments

Conceptual art and the loss of painting : Comments

By Peter Sellick, published 10/8/2016

What has happened here? Painting has become writing. Or, rather, painting relies on writing as an explanation for its existence.

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All art, even so called realistic art is an exercise in abstraction and representation. And all of it, even the most seemingly "realistic" has all kinds of hidden meanings and presumptions about the nature of reality embedded within it. It is thus subject to multiple interpretations too.
The trouble with Sells is that he wants to take us back to the 19th century when so called academic "realism" governed/limited what was "real" and acceptable to the artistic establishment, and what was presumed to be "real" by the dreadfully sane every-person of the time.

Such academic "realism" essentially objectified everyone and everything, and it harkened back to the presumed golden age of classical Greece, and the era (error) of "great men" and their (often blood-soaked) actions on to the world stage.

And then something happened which quite rightly attempted to break the spell/trance of such objectifying "realism".
And more recently
Posted by Daffy Duck, Wednesday, 10 August 2016 1:57:11 PM
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That 19th century concept of realism in painting took a sudden turn with the invention and eventually mass market appeal of photography.

Which is a good thing because it essentially liberates the artist to create and think "outside the square" so to speak.

To call modernism and post modernism lacking in expressionism is subjective observation at best. To quote and old and tired cliche... "beauty is in the eyes of the beholder"

However, I do agree in part with the author about a lack of skills in drawing and painting in today's art world. This has been replaced with Uni and TAFE courses that have become, due to modern attitudes in fine art education, more of an excuse for art teachers to have jobs. They are not a substitute for fine art apprenticeships that were common throughout the middle ages before one had developed talent to go on and become known as an "Old master".
Posted by Rojama, Wednesday, 10 August 2016 3:07:16 PM
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Dear Sells,


Like most visitors at the Museo del Prado in Madrid, I was quite impressed with Goya’s painting “The Third of May, 1808” when I first saw the original back in the 70’s. I bought a poster of it which I had framed on my return to Paris and hung it on the wall in the entrance to my apartment until it mysteriously disappeared.

My wife was horrified by it so I was not surprised when it disqappeared. No need to enquire, as you do: « What has happened here? » I asked no question and received no reply.

But, like you :

« I have seen people huddled around (where) such works (had been hung) trying no doubt to find out what is going on. They may be enriched by new ideas and that can be a good thing. However, as with all ideas or concepts once they are in your head the piece of "art" that inspired them ceases to be important. Like a book one has read it may be placed on the bookshelf (or dumped in the garbage bin) and forgotten ».

Sadly « This does not bode well for art collectors (like me) who (do not) like their art to have legs, to continuously fill them with delight year after year ».

But, as you say, « We can't (get it) back, we can't stand still, we must progress ».

« But progress in painting has run its course. Painting at the end of the twentieth century was in a diminished and exhausted state after all of the new tricks had been played; they have been played out ».

Exit Goya!

What a pity. I really did like that painting …

Posted by Banjo Paterson, Wednesday, 10 August 2016 9:41:29 PM
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Human art evolved from cave paintings by primitives who depicted the world around them in images. These images are revered today as the earliest representations of human imagination. For thousands of years thereafter, art was essentially the preserve of the rulers, clergy, and the rich. Rulers used art, reliefs, frescoes, and statuary to bring glory to themselves, defame their enemies, or to impart important principles of law to an almost totally illiterate population.

From the 1500's art was still the preserve of the rulers, clergy and the rich, and art was primarily what we would call today "social realism". This was an important aspect of art in the time when cameras did not exist, and it needed a great deal of skill to portray reality on canvas. This survived until the invention of the camera, when skill at portraying reality on canvas became relatively unimportant. It also coincided with rising prosperity where individual artists could survive selling their art to the public, and inventing their own styles.

The problem today, is that style is now everything. New artists battle to gain recognition by creating ever more quirky styles. Most of these new styles are just junk and most have no appeal to the public at all. Most of the public still work with their hands and they naturally still respect skill. There is no skill involved with filling tomato sauce bottles up with paint and squirting them all over a canvas. (eg "Blue Poles" by Jackson Pollack") Most people consider Picasso's work as just poorly painted rubbish.

Which new style of art is to be considered a groundbreaking style, and which new artist a genius, seems to be the preserve of an elitist art mafia. They have the power to declare any piece of garbage to be worth tens of millions and to have national art gallery directors falling all over themselves to spend public money on stylistic crap. Publically purchased modern art now fills entire warehouses and most will never be seen by the public because it is so much trash who's creation is devoid of any skill.
Posted by LEGO, Thursday, 11 August 2016 7:55:28 AM
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For some commentators the rise of conceptual art has been nothing less than the betrayal of the visual arts by overly literary and anti-visual cultural practices. For other commentators conceptual art has generated the basis on which current practice proceeds and, for them, it has established the basic problems and themes with which artists must continue to work. Arguably, conceptual art continues to be the key background for a number of important debates in contemporary art: the role of the curator; the functions and limits of art institutions (galleries, museums, exhibitions); art as exemplary economy of the 'dematerialised'; the meaning of 'public'-ness in art; the appropriate role and limits of mediation, publicity and explication in contemporary art; the inclusions and exclusions that operate in the circuits of global culture; and the relationship between art practice and knowledge.

In the most simple and everyday terms conceptual art has given rise to a new criterion in judgements on art. Encountering a work of art, instead of the question 'Is it beautiful?' or 'Is it moving?' we now find ourselves more often than not, first asking ourselves, 'Is it interesting?'
Posted by team outing in and around bangalore, Tuesday, 23 August 2016 10:31:59 PM
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