Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A Strings-Attached-Arts-Philanthropy Rant

On the heels of Tyler's detailed diatribe about questionable corporate sponsorship arrangements agreed to by MoMA in recent years comes an article in the NYTimes today about the more open and honest acknowledgement, on both sides, of the business motivations behind corporate philanthrophy with regards to the arts in NYC. The article begins with the cold-hard reality that explains why the arts organizations are also seemingly sudden realists here:
Over the last decade, the portion of corporate philanthropy dedicated to the arts has dropped by more than half, according to the Giving USA Foundation, an educational and research program of the American Association of Fundraising Counsel. In 2004, the most recent year for which figures are available, support for the arts was 4 percent of total corporate philanthropy, compared with 9.5 percent in 1994 — part of a general shift in giving toward health and social services.
Such a decline might shake anyone out of deluded fantasy about why corporations do what they do, but personally I was surprised to read in this article how earnestly the arts organizations are defending corporations' ever-more "strings attached" philanthropy. But let me back up. Here's a summary of the situation:

When companies do support culture, they are increasingly paying for it out of their marketing budgets, which means strings are attached to the funds: from how a corporation’s name will appear in promotional materials, to what parties it can give during an exhibition, to the number of free or discounted tickets available to its employees.

“Corporations are not Medicis; they never have been, they’re not supposed to be,” said Nancy Perkins, a senior vice president at Payne, Forrester & Associates, fund-raising consultants. “They’re not in business to be philanthropic.”
I have to admit. My first response to this was that this is a realistic assessment and that the arts organizations echoing this logic may signify a maturing of the arts in general. But a small voice in the back of my head, egged on by Tyler's post yesterday, wouldn't accept that. It's an obnoxious small voice, so I'll edit out the profanity, but essentially its argument goes something like this:

" wanna talk reality, here? Fine, let's talk reality. "Corporations are not Medicis; they never have been, they’re not supposed to be." Perhaps, but there's a long list of things corporations are not supposed to be, like politician puppetmasters, war starters, cultural dictators, news manipulators, pension fund thieves, widespread polluters, etc. etc. but they are Blanche, they are! The original goal of corporate philanthropy within the arts may have been to associate themselves with high culture, but it was also to help humanize them in the public's eye. More than that, it was designed to give them cover for the lobbying of the people's representatives to do things that don't end up serving the people. To give them cover for calling in their chips with senators and presidents and pushing them to send our young men and women into war to protect their investments overseas. To give them cover for the way they get to stack the deck against the common man because they've got so many goddamn politicians in their pockets. I mean, if you want to talk reality.

Now that the corporations have all got scientifically effective ad campaigns and have brainwashed generations into associating all kinds of warm and fuzzy feelings with their logos and/or jingles, NOW, they're not the Medicis? NOW it's not their business to do philanthropy? NOW, they expect to call the shots when making a donation, and they expect the arts organizations to like it as well?

Well, I have a solution for that, my corporate friends. We'll legislatively cap CEO salaries at 10 times the lowest paid full-time employee's salary and tax the balance to fill the coffers of expanded federal funding for the arts. Hallelujah! You won't have to be the Medicis. You can go on about your business under the new laws and the arts organizations can fulfill their missions without your logos plastered all over their facades? It's a win-win, no?
I told you it was an obnoxious voice.

Labels: philanthropy


Anonymous oriane said...

"Perhaps, but there's a long list of things corporations are not supposed to be, like politician puppetmasters, war starters, cultural dictators, news manipulators, pension fund thieves, widespread polluters, etc. etc. but they are Blanche, they are!"

If only that would fit on a bumper sticker. What a righteous rant. Go Ed! As we used to say in the socialist cult I grew up in, Death to the Fascist Insect that Preys Upon the Lives of the People! (After I moved to NY I would say that whenever I killed a cockroach.)

2/21/2007 10:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Barry said...

Great post, Ed, and great SLA quote, Oriane! I've kind of had it with the whole "corporations get the rights of individuals, but no responsibilities" aspect of our legal/economic system.

2/21/2007 10:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Barry said...

Here is another thought. If corporations (and the rich) didn't refuse to pay their share of taxes, and lobby against things like a decent health care system, they wouldn't have to donate so much money to "health and social services." The idea that the wealthiest country on earth relies on charitable giving for these things is disgusting.

2/21/2007 11:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yearh, is the long list of bad behavior you mention , ed, the exception or the norm in the corporate world or does it really matter any more?

2/21/2007 11:03:00 AM  
Anonymous oriane stender said...

on the other hand...

I got a little carried away there. Back to the real world: As artists (and arts organizations) we do walk a fine line. I don't want to be a hypocrite; my work is in several corporate collections and I have received grant money from foundations with major corporate support. So I do accept their occasional handouts. Does this we mean we endorse their corporate policies? I'm just throwing this out there to think about; I'm conflicted about it, but really, what choice do we have if we're lucky enough to be offered their money? I'm not plastering any corporation's name on the side of my (theoretical) building, but by being in their collections, is their name already plastered on the side of my work? Does corporate support to individual artists come with strings attached?

2/21/2007 11:16:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

is the long list of bad behavior you mention , ed, the exception or the norm

Clearly some corporations are worse than others, and some operate entirely with honor. But the quote defending their position lumped them all together, so I think it's fair to lump them all together in my critique of that argument. Those offended by being lumped together are free to explain why they don't deserve to be, via examples, but they can't benefit from the collective argument of why they don't owe the public philanthropy without associating themselves with all the corrupt corporations out there.

The bottom line for me is that Perkins is wrong. Some corporations should be obligated to do philanthropy, at least in part, because they license public property (like airwaves and drilling rights, for example) to conduct their business. I know they'll argue they pay a fee for this, but via tax loopholes and lobbying efforts and ssuch, we the public hardly get the best deal from our property being licensed as we could, IMO. In fact, I firmly believe we should renegotiate these licenses to ensure a certain portion of the profits are earmarked specifically for arts funding, sans corporate logos plastered everywhere. Why not? The airwaves and land/sea they're drilling on belong to us. If corporations are gonna get all businesslike on our asses, let's give them a taste of their own medicine. Renegotiate the terms of the licenses more to our liking, reinstating the Fairness Doctrine, and other public-serving laws that Reagan dismantled, and then tell the corporations that complain, "Quit your moaning, it's just business."

2/21/2007 11:26:00 AM  
Anonymous jason said...

This just in: Corporations are amoral actors exploiting the weak and destroying the planet because they're motivated by profit above all else. Who knew?

But they have more in common with the Medici than [Blanche?] admits. I don't recall the Medici funding too many activities that conflicted with their own desire for massive political power and wealth.

Arts institutions like MoMa have always censored their collections (and the way they are presented) in a similar fashion.

The conflict between institutional art museums and the corporations who would sponsor their exhibitions (with strings attached) is, at its core, a power play for the right to control culture. Both are motivated by interests that are exclusive and exploitative.

2/21/2007 11:37:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

But they have more in common with the Medici than [Blanche?] admits. I don't recall the Medici funding too many activities that conflicted with their own desire for massive political power and wealth.

I had that same thought about the Medici's but realize that they've become shorthand for support of the arts in a grand sense, so...

"Blanche" is Blanche Hudson (played by Joan Crawford) in "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" That line, "but you are, Blanche, you are [in a wheelchair]" has become shorthand among fans of the film for accepting the reality of one's situation.

2/21/2007 11:47:00 AM  
Blogger kurt said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2/21/2007 12:03:00 PM  
Anonymous David said...

Somehow it's hard for me to see the phrase "corporate philanthropy" as anything but an oxymoron.

Corporations are legal entities formed for the sole purpose of making money for their shareholders. Anything they do that seems philanthropic is done for the purpose of making more money, whether it's in the form of market positioning, influence buying, or creating a smokescreen for their other activities. If we think there is any other motivation behind their arts funding we are kidding ourselves.

I don't think legislative caps on salaries is the answer, but higher corporate taxes, with a portion dedicated to arts funding, might do some good.

2/21/2007 12:06:00 PM  
Anonymous dannielynn's daddy said...

i'd like to hear more about what oriane brought up: the conflict for individual artists who accept corporate support. it's all very abstract when we're talking about groups, but it's more personal when it's your own work up on the wall at altria or wherever.

any other artists have thoughts about that?

2/21/2007 12:09:00 PM  
Blogger highlowbetween said...

2 words - Phillip Morris.
But this branding trend has been going on awhile. The whole "Thomas Krens Affair" - as i like to call his tenure at the Guggenheim- is a great template of the "no corporate strings" and it is outlined quite nicely in Museum Inc. published by Prickley Paradigm Press.

To add to what someone said above - corporations ARE individuals according to the law -without out all those pesky trappings of ethical codes. One of those nice vestiges from Reconstruction.

It is a tight line Ed and I sense very frustrating for all us.

2/21/2007 12:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

who paid the piper- wasnt that about the censoring and politics of the art world that defined modernism and censored the rest?

2/21/2007 12:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who Paid the Piper?
The CIA and the Cultural Cold War
By Frances Stonor Saunders

2/21/2007 01:15:00 PM  
Blogger Susan Constanse said...

Realistically, who else will support the arts? You can talk about turning the tables on corporations and developing a fund from taxation, but the average taxpayers will be no different of a patron than the corporations. Look at where the NEA is.

Really, it would be infinitely more significant to encourage private collectors. And that should include buyers of art, not just deep pocketed collectors that earn their buying power from their association with large corporations.

2/21/2007 01:24:00 PM  
Anonymous David said...

...the average taxpayers will be no different of a patron than the corporations. Look at where the NEA is.

That's true.

2/21/2007 01:30:00 PM  
Blogger highlowbetween said...

Susan - is largely right. Tax based initiatives largely fail for myriad reasons. But the fact that many major museums operate "closely" to the line of money laundering for a select few should give us pause.

2/21/2007 01:43:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Realistically, who else will support the arts?

I can see where taxation for fudning leads to all kinds of problems...the suggestion about CEO salaries was ranty sarcasm (although I'm sincere about renegotiating the licenses for rights to public property), but I do feel Barry's right, and it's important to remain focused on how the corporations expect the rights of individuals without the responsibilities. To say that socially they don't have any moral obligation to contribute to the greater good (i.e., that they're not to be criticized for making all decisions based solely on whether or not they increase profits), says to me they should not receive considerations from the people's representatives in government we reserve for individuals either, like whether or not a law that helps the people harms their ability to make profits. It's a double standard they're increasingly exploiting to their advantage.

The fact that the arts organizations are signing onto this rhetoric shows me how desperate they are for the funding (does any arts professional really feel a bank's name should compete with an artist's name in the promotional materials of an exhibition?). More than that, I feel a shift in the culture at large toward more warm-and-fuzzy associations with corporations, which I am certain is the result of ingenious marketing and not any particularly philanthropic efforts on their part. In other words, they're pulling the wool over our eyes. If they totally co-opt the arts, then they'll totally own us, heart and soul (who else will show us how to challenge their excesses), and that's a depressing scenario.

They should support arts not solely as a means of self-promotion (they've every right to have their sponsorship acknowledged, but it's boorish to attach conditions to the donations that spell out exactly how), but because we collectively swallow all kinds of truly horrendous garbage (product and legislative) they can afford to produce or buy, and it's one way they can selflessly pay us back. Call it keeping things in balance.

2/21/2007 02:27:00 PM  
Anonymous jason said...

If they [corporations] totally co-opt the arts, then they'll totally own us, heart and soul (who else will show us how to challenge their excesses)

Do you really see the New York art world as a 'challenge to corporate excess'? I mean, come on. The art world is a corporate playground. The art scene ebbs and flows to the whims and profits of Wall Street.

Challenging corporate excess requires sustained political resistance, something 'the fine arts' has historically avoided in its cozy relationship with power. I'm surprised you would even suggest such a thing, considering your prohibition of 'art with a purpose.'

Any artists who have been at all successful at "show[ing] us how to challenge [corporate] excesses" have done so largely because they avoid the standard gallery scene (of corporate complicity) and have pursued alternate means of support. This means less glamor and fame (oh god, no!).

Admittedly, it isn't easy to survive as an artist without some kind of service to corporate interests (as Orianne noted above), but challenging the corporate status quo isn't supposed to be easy. If artists are serious about resisting the corporate co-opting of culture, then difficult sacrifices must be made. Too many want to have their cake and eat it too. Political resistance is hard work -- the corporate control of culture won't just vanish on its own.

2/21/2007 04:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How many people in our world share in corporate profit, from employees to investors, to beneficiaries of sponsorship and donation? And how many people have been harmed by corporate negligence? Many of us are in both catagories (whether we know it or not) so that line is hard to draw. Those of us who are not corporate employees or investors can make that line more clear by refusing corporate donations. It seems like drawing that line might be an important step in loosening the grip of corporate power in the world. Corporations need more regulation. We're so much less likely to find fault in, and punish a corporation that has thrown a bone to us, then one that has not. Especially for artists, a profession that is so hard, any donation to help us keep being artists seems like gold...but we should be careful about who we accept these little donations from.

Everyone who profits from corporate negligence should be punished. People should be more accountable for what they invest in, or benefit from. If it is discovered that a corporation that you have profited from, either from employment, investment, or even sponsorship has committed illegal or negligent acts against an individual or individuals, you should be held accountable and make reparations of some sort. I'm not suggesting "an eye for an eye," but there should be more individual accountability. Look at what the Soviet Army did to large numbers of the German townspeople after the Nazis surrendered...they made the nearby townspeople visit the sites of genocide, and compelled them, as individuals, to help with mass burials, and to clean everything up. Those individuals were not personally responsible for what happened, even if they were members of the Nazi party. The whole culture was responsible, but individuals were made to experience the horror of the camps, and shared in punishment to some degree. They were not allowed to claim ignorance. They were not ignorant of what was happening. Make the investors and beneficiaries of dirty corporations clean up the messes, and in some cases atrocities caused. Something has to be done, corporations are predatory sociopaths with no real accountability. All the fat cats that have investments in, and are sitting back and profiting from the oil wars should be made to go help clean up the messes they are helping to cause. They should be made to come face to face with the horror they are helping to inflict. This would cause people to be more aware of how the corporations they have invested are interacting with the world.

If it is discovered that an arts organization has accepted dirty money from corporate sponsorship, they should be held accountable somehow, even if it only means that people should boycott that organization until that organization makes some sort of reparation to the people harmed. We should be more careful about who we accept assistance from.

2/21/2007 05:03:00 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

This here is the down side of art with a social agenda. If you want to change the world why do you need art at all? Why not hire people who are actually qualified to do it? Artists should stick to what they know (the first rule taught in any creative writing class) If you don't think art is valuable in and of itself then move on, become a journalist or a politician or an underground weatherman and leave art for people who understand what it is about.

Now we have a big mess to untangle and get back to having faith in art without the silly baggage of pseudo-socialist nonsense foisted upon us by a generation of unqualified and uncreative fakers who only ever impressed each other.

The rest of the world has moved on. Other fields have moved on. Art looks sad and pathetic flogging the do-gooder ethics of self-congratualtions that proved useless the moment anyone who could think glanced over and caught a whiff of the BS being pumped out by fifth or sixth generation franco-phile marxio-philosolipsists doodling in their own poop. It hasn't served art or the world and it is time to move on.

It's a train wreck of z-scale proportions.

2/21/2007 05:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is art about Tim? Praising the Lord and all of His Glory? For some it is, and in the history of art it has been. Art has always had a social agenda of some sort...

There is nothing wrong with, and I would say there is everything right with challenging your culture and it's values with your art. What is art to be Tim? Leave art for people who don't want to think, just 'feel?'

2/21/2007 05:13:00 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

Anonymous, bleah

It aint so black and white, no name. There is a huge gulf between what I said and how you characterize it.

That's what anonymous commenters do though . . .

2/21/2007 05:39:00 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

Oh,I forgot to ansswer your question, anonymous commenter.

What is art about?

It's not about anything

2/21/2007 05:55:00 PM  
Anonymous David said...

I agree with Tim. Art is about everything :)

2/21/2007 07:18:00 PM  
Anonymous markcreegan said...

Its not just corporations its them PLUS govt working in tandem.

Then add the MSM in the pic, i mean when was the last time you heard a news story about a corporate related whistleblower?

im jus sayin'.

2/21/2007 08:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, me and corporation went out last night and had a last drink before he shoved off to Al Anbar, so you know, cut him some slack and stuff. Third tour and his wife is chilly with the home fires. Those Medici dudes had fierce feng shui. Just abiding...

2/22/2007 03:13:00 AM  
Anonymous ml said...

If ceos of corporations have their salaries tied to the lowest paid employee, shouldn't museum directors have the same restriction? Think of Glenn Lowry and his padded salary vs the employees of MOMA.

Art has always had a strained relationship with the patron. The Medicis dictated what they wanted. All religions have dictated what they wanted. The aristocracy dictated what they wanted. And art, the best art, always wriggles out of control.

2/22/2007 11:14:00 AM  
Anonymous David said...

We'll legislatively cap CEO salaries at 10 times the lowest paid full-time employee's salary...

If ceos of corporations have their salaries tied to the lowest paid employee, shouldn't museum directors have the same restriction?

EW and ML, I agree with the sentiment, but it's a slippery slope. Where do you stop? Some people think that superstar artists are way too rich. If this cap were applied to artists (not salaries, but incomes) then none of us would ever have the chance of even making a penny. Ten times zero is, well...

2/22/2007 12:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

I was trying to keep away from my addiction to reply to this blog.

Ah well...

Oriane, I have a question for you:

When a corporation buys a work from you, are your thoughts akin to:

Sentance A: "Wow...I must do great work that even a corporation would buy it"


Sentance B: "Hmm...I wonder if my art isn't too facile, too neat, too conventional, (etc), so that corporate would buy it."

I'm just asking because I know I would feel like number 2.

>>What is art to be Tim? Leave art >>>for people who don't want to >>>think, just 'feel?'

I've said many times that if we are ought to take art as a "media" for communication (to borrow from the materialist definition that the "media" in an art process is the message), than we must remember that the first faculty of art is aesthetic and that it is experiential. And whatever you are trying to convey through your art I can empty it of meaning in a snap and judge it for its pure form, like I can infer into it meanings that are inflecting from your original intention.

Thus I would expect that the best artists are those who assume that art is like this, something quite fluctuating, something that must be "felt" inasmuch as it can be thought.

Finally, the big co-opt topic...

I don't know... why not borrow a bit from socialism, force the big rich company to give more money to the government, and pass the money from the government to arts, so that you don't have to end up with logos of Coca-cola on your PR?

Why is it the corporation controlling the government? That makes the USA momentarely richer but that creates so much of extra troubles that your country doesn't need. A healthy economical country must have its money circulate.

I don't think you "want" corporation to endow arts. Use good robin-hood justice and someone in between to pass the money. Stop whining at Coca-cola's door, that's ridiculous.


Cedric Caspesyan

2/22/2007 02:04:00 PM  
Blogger heidilolatheayatollah said...


you made some thought provoking points-and I may be reading you wrong, but to paint what you know and to paint with no social agenda are not mutually exclusive.......

take an artist who is a refugee, and now living in England--how could the work not have political intonations if they are simply painting what they know??

2/22/2007 02:54:00 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

I think Cedric said it best. Art is judged on formal grounds (to paraphrase grossly.) Since this is true the content is only a place holder. To inject serious content is to exploit the real troubles of real people to tickle the imagination of art viewers.

We would never judge art on content. That would be awful and akin to censorship.

That said, and it is how I feel, I still wonder about the role the Blues play (for example). There is a place for content. Most of the time it makes me very uncomfortable, like a bad and ineffective cheat.

2/22/2007 06:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well...I'm back with my black and white didacticism...

Art cannot be divorced from content that goes well beyond simple formal qualities. It's the age old that has been beaten to death. But the fact of the matter is, yes, you can choose to ignore social implications and agendas, and keep the discussion about a piece of art on formal grounds, this is true. But that is only a willful ignorance...and this must be admitted. History has shown us, again, and again, that humanity, and it's arts cannot be divorced from the environment it finds itself in. Why is/was "Art for Art's sake" a viable strategy for thinking about art? I can tell you that at most times in History, that simply would not fly...and be censored from public discourse. If we look at History, we can see why certain strategies have worked for artists, and others have not. History is happening right now, as it always is, we can look at our culture for what it is, OR we can choose to remain ignorant and do the equivalent of standing on the 5th amendment and say "Art for Art's sake," which is a short cut to thinking. Actually, to be honest, is a short cut to "feeling" as well, since what is a feeling except a response within ourselves to our environment? What can we possibly feel by looking at something merely on formal grounds???
-No Name

2/22/2007 07:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you look at History, "art for arts sake" is only a viable strategy for thinking about art today because of the complete democratization of art, and what art can be. At one point in History, this was a radical gesture, liberating art from the tyranny of narrative and content beyond the formal qualities of the work. However, because of this democratization, art can be whatever the artist wants it to be, and "art for arts sake" is only one of many, many viable strategies. SO, to get to the point...the reason all of this is important is in context of the comments made by Tim in his first post:

"If you don't think art is valuable in and of itself then move on, become a journalist or a politician or an underground weatherman and leave art for people who understand what it is about."

my point is that, in a culture in which art is Free and mostly Democratic, how can anyone suggest that "If you don't think art is valuable in and of itself"you should "move on?" First of all, who are you to suggest you know what art IS, and are qualified to dismiss other viewpoints? And secondly, you suggest that art is only valuable if it is art for arts sake, without any social agenda. What you fail to realize that throughout most of History, art has had a social agenda of some sort, and that "Art of Art's Sake" is only possible in a democratic art culture. Therefore, to argue that "art for arts sake" is the only valuable way of thinking about art, is to dismiss the very democratization that has allowed artists with your viewpoint to be a part of public discourse.

2/22/2007 08:32:00 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

Talking about all this has it's place, art history, social criticism, sociology. I think it is self-deluding and "don't break your arm" self-congratulation to think that art with an agenda is more functional than the same action not in an art context. That is what I said, why does it need to be art unless you are trying to build a career by being more moral than me as a marketing strategy to sell your work or get a teaching job? ICK

Most content in art, historically, has been to keep the patron happy and loose with the pocketbook. Modernists did one thing right in stopping that practice. Don't you think Michaelangelo and his assistants talked about the line and the color when the pope wasn't around? They did not give a damn about God or Moses. It was just what they had to do to make the scale of work they wanted to make. This is just a guess on my part, of course, but I feel pretty confident about it.

more later if you want . . .

2/22/2007 09:44:00 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

Oh, and, and you know, the hyperbole is just for fun and emphasis. Like I said in my second post above, content has a place, but I am uncomfortable with it most of the time. It's lame and ineffective to talk politics in an art gallery, a circl-jerk if you will. I am not interesed in that at all.

2/22/2007 09:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

>>>> keep the discussion about a piece of art on formal grounds, this is true. But that is only a willful ignorance...and >>>>>this must be admitted.

I think it can also be complete dellusion to always associate signs with meanings, and dellusions that lead to dangerous paths like fundamentalism. There is no way that art can escape extraneous content. Ever. But you need to have the control of your mind that makes you able to flicker thought between a meaning and its opposite proposition, or meaning with non-meaning.

>>>>What can we possibly feel by looking at something merely on formal grounds???

Depending of your levels of knowledge, experience and intelligence, you can find "your own meaning".
Which ultimately should be very rewarding.

>>>>you suggest that art is only valuable if it is art for arts sake, without any social agenda.

Nah this is a warning..It's kind of like Plato warning against the shadows in the caves (he hated art himself). It's nothing to do with devaluating art's many meanings. It's reminding about art's primordial meaning, before
all the other meanings are added to it. Art is something that means to attract attention and be watched. The rest is history.

And whatever Vermeer was trying to say I can still pull it out. People at the time of Vermeer could too. Too bad for them if they didn't realize.

It would seem pointless to not try understand what Vermeer was trying to do in a painting. But it would be more tragic to oblige Vermeer's meaning as the sole supreme valuable meaning.
But then in the flicker seconds that takes to your mind to switch from Vermeer's meaning to your own meanings while watching the painting, there is that moment where the painting loose all meanings. This is not opinion. It's simple fact. I'm just there to bring it on to you.

If you truly want to be politic, explore form, that is what I tell you.

Cedric Caspesyan

2/22/2007 11:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

All the hidden delicate meanings in aVermeer probably motivated him to do art,
and he certainly developed the best process or method to convey these delicate meanings,
but ultimately art is less about the secret meanings than the solution that he found to
convey them. Which is why we find it so interesting.

Otherwise if you'd be so moral you'd be moved by your neighbours' problems
rather than by watching some "stupid" (meaningless) painting. ;-)

Cedric Caspesyan

(I always cringe at Moma, when I see everybody act so affected by the art they see yet no one cares about the other people watching around them, and everybody's walking on everyone's else foot and treat each others like animal to go "woo" for 15 seconds in front of a Warhol. When I'm at Moma I actually watch the people AS MUCH as I do the art, so consider yourself warned)

2/23/2007 12:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it seems one should distinguish between the crafts. like the craft in decorative art, or the craft in lawn art, and all the other arts there are that use a craft. among these is i suppose fine art, which is the one that inherently has no practical purpose, except to attract viewers. tho it uses craft, it really has no function, so to speak. literally..

2/23/2007 12:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

*note: i use the word 'suppose' only because i dont personally like the term 'fine art' for some reason..

2/23/2007 12:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well, the problem with anon comments is that you can't distinguish between them. Not that I'm dismissing the last two anon comments at all...they just were not "no name." No Name loves all crafts, including "fine arts," since they are all historical markers...I'm a historian who happens to love art.

and thank you to both Cedric and Tim for the clarifications. I've come from a place where politics and social upheaval have been important in my life, and in the art I find my tendecies in the art I respond to come from a certain place.

2/23/2007 02:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i was in now way bashing crafts at all, they all obviously have their place. certainly. i was only mentioning the differences between crafts so as to allude that IMOO activist art would be seperate from fine art. it has not always been like this but this is how the term 'art' has evolved into an umbrella...and i feel when people argue about 'art' they are arguing about the umbrella term and not the 'fine art' that it seems they want to discuss..

--Some Name

2/23/2007 09:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Oriane Stender said...

In answer to your question directed at me a ways back, I don't think either one of those things exactly. The issue of what collections one is in, where one's work is placed, could spin off into a whole new discussion. To give some context, when an artist sells work through a gallery, she doesn't have control over who buys it. Generally I feel fortunate when a gallery sells my work, even if it is bought by Republicans or others who I disagree with politically or philosophically. (If it were ONLY bought by Republicans, or corporations, I might start to worry.) Also, most corporations that have an art collection have curators who are fairly sophisticated and knowledgeable in contemporary art history, sometimes moreso than individual or private collectors. Often they are conciously trying to "build a collection" rather than just buying what they like (although they probably do that too). Sometimes their collections end up in, or are exhibited in museums. So call me careerist, but I feel good about the sale. I feel that the buyer is endorsing me, which does imply the obverse. If I were commissioned to make work for a corporate entity, that would be a different situation and would create a possible moral dilemma. I was actually offered such a commission and turned it down because it became clear that the client wanted me to use certain imagery and it felt more like I was being asked to create, or at least participate in creating, a corporate logo, which I wasn't comfortable with. I have strong feelings about this, and about the "purity" or ownership, or self-determination of the artist's expression, but I don't want to take up too much space here because the discussion has moved on to other things.

2/23/2007 11:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric said...

Thanks Oriane for your reply.


2/23/2007 06:11:00 PM  

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