Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Painting Deathwatch 2007 (or the Medium Is the Medium)

What is it exactly that makes predicting the death of painting so attractive a sport? I mean, we don't see this kind of enthusiasm for the prophecy of the death of sculpture (is it merely painting's supposed place at the top of the heap?), but let some new mixed or multi-media based work gain a bit of traction and watch the prognostication begin in earnest.

Now I certainly don't mean to pick on him/her, but given that MLS raised this in the last post on the future of art, I'll use his/her example to illustrate why this seems unlikely to me:
The real stuff/art won't be for sale. The real stuff will be curated and seen in cyberspace.

You could buy a/some kind of "Art" in galleries like you buy a LV bag in Macy's but the art of the future and the one making History of Art is going to be made with computers or be computer friendly and interactive-smart.

Most old art is becoming irrelevant as we speak. It represents values we don't care about anymore.

Artists are going to make a living by selling ads in their pages or digital copies or the amount of hits to their shows.

This is a future not far away. Many already are doing it. Are most artists ready?

This new real art we will take into space. Painting finally would be dead.
I offered a snarky response to this on the previous thread, but I'd like to explain why I suspect painting will continue to be relevant and popular far into the future. Forget apocalyptic scenarios in which the electricity needed to present computer-generated art might be rationed for health care and defense instead, the reason I can't see painting becoming irrelevant is I don't see medium being a defining/limiting choice for artists. In fact, I'm surprised in this era when more and more artists switch media to suit the needs of each new piece that anyone would suggest one medium has dominance over any other.

A much more likely scenario to my mind is that computer-generated art will join painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, craft-based, and performance-based work (etc.) as equally valid, but not superior, in the categories of visual art that museums and collectors value. It will be artists (as brand names) that are ranked, irrespective of which media they work in (and many will work in several).

Indeed, we're reaching the point where, I believe, finally the message will become the message, and the medium will be simply the medium. Personally, that's the only future I look forward to. The idea that the "digital whatever" is somehow an "advance" important in and of itself, as opposed to merely a new way to move bits around into a composition/form of the artist's choosing, strikes me as myopic. Painting, like other media, will continue because it's simply a choice, among many, an artist has through which to express an idea...and because some artists will choose to use it.

Labels:

43 Comments:

Blogger Mark said...

and inter-diciplianry, digitaly altered paintings etc. It's limitless, which makes it so exciting. Digital repro will become the more efficient process to share images, but there are strengths in every medium that can't be copied, like the emotional response of paint to canvas and that great studio smell. Ok, the smell can be reproduced, but photoshoping will always be boring to me.

4/03/2007 09:19:00 AM  
Anonymous markcreegan said...

I agree ed. We (human beins') have an inherent need to make stuff with our hands. I think we would have to evolve into something else for that to happen, because we are essentially the same animal that made simple hand tools and clay pots. Even computer based creative programs now have hand interactive hardware.

Not that MLS' ideas are totally invalid, because the internet is becoming an essential marketing tool for artists, and a still fully untapped creative tool. I think that we all understand that machines sre extensions of our bodies, tools that aid and therfore we value the things made with them. But that will never diminish or usurp the handmade unless we evolve into a species without hands.

4/03/2007 09:35:00 AM  
Anonymous twhid said...

I have my doubts whether painting be relevant in the future.

Will it be the equivalent of lute playing? Or blacksmithing? I.e. an interesting but niche and nostalgic cultural activity.

Re: needing electricity to view (some) digital art

If the state of our society reaches the point that electricity becomes scarce, then we'll have much larger problems than not being able to look at some art.

4/03/2007 09:45:00 AM  
Anonymous markcreegan said...

oh, and medium and message are linked in that part of the job of the artist is to determine the most effective medium for the given message. This requires diversity of choice- another reason one medium will never again dominate.

4/03/2007 09:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I AM HONORED!

xxx

MLS

4/03/2007 09:48:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

as you should be MLS...but, for the record, if you don't mind sharing, are you he or she?

Will it be the equivalent of lute playing? Or blacksmithing?

Only if lute playing and/or blacksmithing are employed to produce contemporary art. Again, the medium/craft is NOT the defining factor...it's whether an artist decides that that medium/craft is the best one through which to convey an idea.

This fixation on humbling painting smacks of jealousy to me, I have to tell you. Painting will be as relevant (no more so, no less so) than the most complicated high-tech medium you can imagine in the future, but it will not die, per se. If it's not needed to produce the work desired, I don't see why an artist should use it, but there will be times when it's essential. As a category unto itself, I can see it's importance waning, but there again, I can see points in which it will roar back into use because of the type of work being produced.

What's possible, but not yet noted here, is that artists who need a work to incorporate painting may likely hire that part of their artwork out to someone who specializes in painting. But painting itself...I can't see it going anywhere.

4/03/2007 10:00:00 AM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Ed sez:
Indeed, we're reaching the point where, I believe, finally the message will become the message, and the medium will be simply the medium.

As if you couldn't guess from our photography discussion, I disagree with this. Not entirely, but partly. McLuhan said the medium is the message; I think that's an exaggeration. I think there is a message in the medium and in the content.

No message exists without a medium and no medium exists without a message (as we're discussing media in this context, anyway). The two interact always. At bottom my argument against photography as fine art is that photography as a medium can't carry the message I consider necessary for fine art. You disagree.

But I think we can agree that some media are not suited for some messages. Each medium has its strengths and its weaknesses. And so certain messages transmit best in certain media. Choreography is very difficult to put into writing. Most of us can't read a symphony. And so on.

But that's not really what McLuhan is about. McLuhan was saying that each media teaches us to think -- teaches our brains to operate -- in different ways. That's how the medium is the message: Regardless of the content, each medium changes the receiver, the perceiver, to accommodate itself.

So the message will never be the message and the medium simply the medium. They'll always be intertwined; and each medium will always have its own effect apart from the message.

As far as the Death of Painting: Humans have been painting since before there was writing. Painting will never die. Painting as a rectangular object one hangs on a wall, however, could conceivably go the way of the lute.

4/03/2007 10:28:00 AM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Ed also sez:
Again, the medium/craft is NOT the defining factor...it's whether an artist decides that that medium/craft is the best one through which to convey an idea.

You wrote this more than once in the photography thread and here you are asserting it again. Do I have to point out that repeating something, louder and louder each time, isn't a substitute for an argument? What's your backing for this assertion?

4/03/2007 10:32:00 AM  
Anonymous D. said...

While recently watching a movie in a theater, I was constantly distracted by the FLASH of cellphones opening, people checking and sending text messages. Are films becoming too long?

4/03/2007 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

What's your backing for this assertion?

Oh, about 500 conversations a year on the subject with artists, curators, writers, collectors, gallerists, etc. In particular, the collective understanding that many working artists today create work in a variety of media specifically because they feel that's what it takes to express what they want to most precisely.

What's the backing for your assertion that (and I'm paraphrasing here), independent of the artist's intentions, certain media are better suited to express the human soul?

4/03/2007 10:43:00 AM  
Anonymous twhid said...

re: jealousy

It's not jealousy, it's resentment :)

Painting rules the market currently for many reasons (easy to show in fairs, easy to ship, easy to sell etc), but so much of it (the most popular) is so, so tired. Not all of it, but the majority of it IMHO. Truly interesting and new things are being explored in new media, yet the market largely ignores it in favor of the highly marketable medium.

The art world on the whole is horribly conservative presently. Painting's popularity is a symptom of this problem.

BTW, I'm not arguing that still images on walls will die, I'm just saying that using paint to make them *may* become an irrelevant nostalgic technique. Perhaps that's splitting hairs.

I also agree with Ed re: media. Artists should use what media best expresses the idea. To me this is an argument for the irrelevance of painting however since the majority of painters confine themselves to this one media.

4/03/2007 10:46:00 AM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

"Collective understanding"? That's not an argument. According to collective understanding, you can get sick by walking outside without a coat on. Meanwhile we've known for about a century and a half that disease is caused by germs, not temperature.

The backing for my assertion -- which you summarize pretty well -- is observation, both my own and others'. Even among people who consider, for example, photography to be fine art, I don't hear them talking about the sublime or the transcendent. I hear them talking about composition or narrative.

But anyway I didn't bring my assertion into this discussion. We were discussing your assertion, which you happened to make here after making it in the previous thread.

And since when does it matter what the artists want to express? If it was all about intent, then everyone would be an artist. If all it took was feeling "this best expresses what I want," then everyone would be Van Gogh. One work of art wouldn't be better than another -- and certainly some are better than others.

But everyone isn't Van Gogh, because it's not entirely about intent, is it? There's something else going on, something else which enters in between intent and execution. Or maybe it's something which doesn't enter in -- as T.S. Eliot wrote:

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow


Artists -- true artists -- can cast their light through the Shadow. What, specifically, they intend to show us isn't what makes their art great; what makes it great is that they broke through the Shadow.

So what difference does it make why artists choose a given medium? It has nothing to do with the quality of the final work.

4/03/2007 11:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know...****me here****, more later.


What is it exactly that makes predicting the death of painting so attractive a sport?

***We like painting but we are tired of it. Nothing new is happening. Same thing in different sizes for the past 60 years. Painting is male and painting polutes the enviroment. *****

I mean, we don't see this kind of enthusiasm for the prophecy of the death of sculpture (is it merely painting's supposed place at the top of the heap?),

****Women were erased from the history of painting not from the history of sculpture. Actually the death of all mediums of art was first proposed by a French writer and philosopher. He believed that fotography was the future. A facsimile of the original. Name? *****

but let some new mixed or multi-media based work gain a bit of traction and watch the prognostication begin in earnest.

****Anyone, anywhere soon is going to be able to make art with a computer. Only the sofware monopolies are stoping it. Making paintings is expensive.*****

Now I certainly don't mean to pick on him/her, but given that MLS raised this in the last post on the future of art, I'll use his/her example to illustrate why this seems unlikely to me:

***** I am a boy. xxx I am not an artist, yet….lol.****

The real stuff/art won't be for sale. The real stuff will be curated and seen in cyberspace.

You could buy a/some kind of "Art" in galleries like you buy a LV bag in Macy's but the art of the future and the one making History of Art is going to be made with computers or be computer friendly and interactive-smart.

Most old art is becoming irrelevant as we speak. It represents values we don't care about anymore.

Artists are going to make a living by selling ads in their pages or digital copies or the amount of hits to their shows.

This is a future not far away. Many already are doing it. Are most artists ready?

This new real art we will take into space. Painting finally would be dead.

****Amen.*****

I offered a snarky response to this on the previous thread, but I'd like to explain why I suspect painting will continue to be relevant and popular far into the future.

****Popular with the market or popular with history? I made the distintion.******


Forget apocalyptic scenarios in which the electricity needed to present computer-generated art might be rationed for health care and defense instead,

****My next computer is going to be my phone, TV, recorder-mp player, camera, health monitor, book and diary and art making tool. Computers will have dynamos you wind to produce the power/energy. Mr. Gates’ father is working on it already. I saw the prototype.****

the reason I can't see painting becoming irrelevant is I don't see medium being a defining/limiting choice for artists.

****Me neither but practicalities will set most of the choices. Mega buildings and 1 billion museums are obscene, wastefull, irrational, and exclusive.*****

In fact, I'm surprised in this era when more and more artists switch media to suit the needs of each new piece that anyone would suggest one medium has dominance over any other.

****Painting is chauvinist and wastefull. Painting was the prefered tool of power and discrimination. Most painters lied about their motives and allowed themselves to be used and manipulated. Painting is ego driven.*****

A much more likely scenario to my mind is that computer-generated art will join painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, craft-based, and performance-based work (etc.) as equally valid, but not superior, in the categories of visual art that museums and collectors value.

****Most art will only collect dust. Nowdays most art is in storage waiting to be sold. Traditional arts have become tools of the few to make money and generate tourism. Bland and frivolous for the masses that pay admition fees. ******

It will be artists (as brand names) that are ranked, irrespective of which media they work in (and many will work in several).

****I agree. That’s the inmediate future, I am talking about the real future. 50 to 100 years from now. *****

Indeed, we're reaching the point where, I believe, finally the message will become the message, and the medium will be simply the medium.

****I believe, finally the message will become also the new medium, and the new medium will be digital.****

Personally, that's the only future I look forward to.

****Never say never. We all adapt. Relax and look for the really good stuff in the studios while you can. ****

The idea that the "digital whatever" is somehow an "advance" important in and of itself, as opposed to merely a new way to move bits around into a composition/form of the artist's choosing, strikes me as myopic.

***Digital, interactive, smart, sizeless, adaptable, infinite, unafraid, uncensored, and possibly more powerfull than what we have now.****

Painting, like other media, will continue because it's simply a choice,

****Choice is a rich’s person prerogative. It doesn’t apply to 5.8 billion people today.*****

among many, an artist has through which to express an idea...and because some artists will choose to use it.

*****Artists will choose what is more convenient, cheap, available and what’s best according with the time they live in. We will have more artists and less “male geniouses”. *****

I have to read the new posts.

mls

4/03/2007 11:06:00 AM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Twhid sez:
BTW, I'm not arguing that still images on walls will die, I'm just saying that using paint to make them *may* become an irrelevant nostalgic technique.

It's worth noting, I think, that the range of colors in any media is greatest in oil-based pigments. Neither printing nor photography nor any kind of monitor can match the range of colors of an oil painting.

So, from this technological standpoint, at least, painting is still superior. One day printing and photography might surpass oils in this regard, but that day is not yet.

4/03/2007 11:08:00 AM  
Anonymous twhid said...

@Chris Rywalt
re: oil range

I agree. Are there studies that support this assertion? This isn't a challenge, I'm just curious.

But.

In order to deploy the superior forces of oil paint, one needs skill. Most contemporary painters don't seem to have the skill (from what I've seen).

Most viewers, collectors, artists and gallerists won't be able to see the difference even when the skill is there so the point is mostly moot. (See MP3 vs. vinyl for precedent.)

4/03/2007 11:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you realize how this medium allows me not to have a gender? Less opportunities for discrimination...another advantage.

Why you keep asking for a p or v Mr. EW?

I can lie you know?

mls

4/03/2007 11:21:00 AM  
Anonymous ml said...

Paintings do not require a closet full of old technology in order to view them. Computer based art from even ten years ago is difficult to view if you didn't save the software, hardware.

I had an interesting conversation with a musician who does not use computerized tools/instruments for making his work because he thinks it dates the music too quickly. Each new advancement becomes a gimmick.

As for medium - it seems to me that art comes out of the interplay between materials, intent and artist. The medium may not be the message but the medium shapes the message.

Wow, I haven't thought about this stuff since grad school.

4/03/2007 12:00:00 PM  
Anonymous David said...

I'm forming a band. Looking for lute-playing blacksmiths. Must be willing to travel into space, and to occasionally be re-booted.

4/03/2007 12:44:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Twhid sez:
Are there studies that support this assertion [regarding oil color range]?

It's not the kind of thing that gets studied, I don't think. I never thought of it that way. It just sort of is. Printers know it. Photographers know it.

I read somewhere that oil paints can reproduce about 40 percent of what the human eye can perceive. I can't place the source on that -- I think it was one of those "How to Mix Colors" kind of books.

Wikipedia has way more than you ever needed to know about color.

4/03/2007 02:02:00 PM  
Anonymous factchecker said...

Why you keep asking for a p or v Mr. EW?
I can lie you know?


MLS = GWM, mid-forties, works on the staff of a mid-level Chelsea gallery (not the owner).

4/03/2007 02:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, poor me...

Sorry for the spelling...I forgot to spell check...such a little box, I can't hardly see what I write....sorry!

mls

4/03/2007 02:18:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

The latest version of Firefox has a spellchecker built in and it goes over every text box you type in. Very helpful.

4/03/2007 02:42:00 PM  
Anonymous House_Of_Rats said...

Some random thoughts:

Death of painting? Long live painting, I guess. What does it mean anyway? The death of OIL painting or the death of flat, unmoving pictures?
Is this about the technology of making? Or is this about how we like to receive and display images? Or is this just a contest to see what's more popular in the high stakes art world? People were squabling about this BEFORE we all had computers, as I recall.

It strikes me that as long as we inhabit these sacks we call bodies, we will want images for our caves, whether they be for magic, decoration, entertainment or status. Some people will want super futuristic images and some will want retro ones. Some will be enthralled by hand made and some won't. Some will insist on painting long after its "dead".

Since when is digital cheaper? Painting can be really low tech and really cheap. Any fool can set themselves up to be a painter. Not everyone has access or the knowledge to be digitial--how about 3rd world areas? Hello? If they paint what is that, then? I guess it doesn't count if its not in NYC.

Also: Maybe we should ask ourselves if the support system for oil painting is outmoded. Painting departments in art schools, for instance.

As for the medium and the message: "Artists should use what media best expresses the idea." is a stement that REALLY bothers me because its so reflexively accepted as making sense. Ideas can be generated by working with the medium--as well as beforehand.

4/03/2007 02:44:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

HoR sez:
Ideas can be generated by working with the medium--as well as beforehand.

Very, very good point. I didn't think of it, but you're absolutely right. More: The media with which you work affects your thought process. You might not be inspired to invent a dragon if you're a photographer; you might not do portraits if you're a painter without portraitist skills (like me). The media with which you are familiar channels and limits your ideas.

4/03/2007 02:51:00 PM  
Blogger Hungry Hyaena said...

C'mon MLS. I respect your championing of new media, but...

You can say the accepted canon of art history is chauvinistic, or that human society, at large, has been dominated by chauvinism for centuries, but saying a particular medium is chauvinistic is as absurd as saying any particular mineral is.

But, hell, why not? Lead is sexist and environmentally unfriendly. Gypsum is progressive and more easily shipped. Yay.

4/03/2007 02:56:00 PM  
Blogger Heart As Arena said...

77 Million Paintings

4/03/2007 04:54:00 PM  
Blogger Carla said...

The emergence of new media liberates painting. It allows painting to be medium-centric. It opens a space for painting to function in a more insular way, unbound by the chore of representing art historical continuity.

4/03/2007 05:03:00 PM  
Anonymous David said...

H.A.A., I've been wanting to get that Eno piece, but haven't gotten around to it yet. Do you have it? My understanding is that the software will run on any computer, but that the accompanying DVD is PAL, and Region Coded for Europe. Have you been able to play the DVD?

4/03/2007 05:05:00 PM  
Blogger Bill Gusky said...

Indeed, we're reaching the point where, I believe, finally the message will become the message, and the medium will be simply the medium.

I hear you, Brother W.

The last narrative was about style, format, perfecting, riffing on and then relinquishing naturalism, and concept emerging from time to time through all of those.

It appears to me that the narrative we've embarked on is message-driven, message-dominant.

(Keeping in mind that message can be ultra-subtle, highly nuanced, and 'no message is a kind of message')

Artists were once distinguished by the medium and style they developed for life.

Artists now (can choose to) simply respond to message, incarnating it in the most appropriate flesh.

Priests of message, I guess.

Didn't Bueys do this? If so, and if my view on narrative isn't utter balderdash, maybe he was a bridge???

4/03/2007 07:04:00 PM  
Blogger Timmer said...

As a painter I can say that studio space is expensive, canvas, paint, stretchers are expensive, storage, transportation, exhibition costs are expensive. What used to be inexpensive artist neighbourhoods are being developed into condos and upscale communities which are pushing out the arts. Some painters may switch to digital in order to survive financially. I use some digital process as a means to develop beginning ideas. As long as I can afford to paint in the manner that I am acustomed to, I will choose to paint on canvas, it has more satisfaction.

4/03/2007 07:06:00 PM  
Blogger Concrete Phone said...

chauvinistic... More or Less, I think MSL is being 'nistic'.
That said.. things get made for all sorts of reasons, and from all sorts of positions. I'd hate to live in a narrower world.
For me working in and out of the computer is easy> though all the big decisions get made in the outside world, because that's the one I want to encourage people to think about, or feel when they enter the work. When that's achieved I'm more than happy for it to be stored on a CDR

The really clever people take something and give more. 'Supercalafraginistic'
That's what it's about!

4/03/2007 07:46:00 PM  
Blogger Heart As Arena said...

David. I'm a huge Eno fan, but I have to say that, visually, it wasn't love at first sight. However, the more I've watched it the more I haven't been able to stop watching it. Thumbs up. I'm pretty sure there's a pc and a Mac version. Don't know about the PAL as my copy is a bootleg. But I'm buying the real thing in the next few days. It kicks.

4/03/2007 09:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This topic of digital world (new frontiers of our communications or whatever) vs more traditional medium of communication like painting comes back and forth as I have noticed. I don’t claim to be an expert in this area but, in my opinion, no current or future technology would be able to replace simplicity of relationship between artist and canvass and then canvas and viewer. It comes to the core of human psychology - we think in words but we also think in images and we are not bug down in technical issues of technology, if you learn the process once. The painting offers for the artists the shortest, the least complicated and, frequently, aesthetically most rewarding connection between idea born in artist brain and the physical existence of this idea on the flat surface. Our contemporary brains are still responding to 2-dimension as those from Lascaux times. Are we born with that? It is possible.
I suspect for those who claim that nothing happens in the paintings-they have hard time to learn aesthetics and understand complexities of this medium. Some people can watch chess masters playing a chess game and get excited about employed complex strategies but some don’t understand the chess and see only bunch of figures jumping on the board and then they start to wander what is this excitement about.
Technology in long run sucks in fine arts because new technologies replace the old one and you have to put extra effort to recreate them if you want to… it means headache. Simple example: couple days ago I have found old floppy disks (from Windows 3.1 times) in the garage. I put on those floppy disks some drawing ideas according to the labels on the disks. I guess, I was believing at that time that twenty century technology has already replaced traditional pencil and the sketchbook. Now, I don’t have floppy disc port on my current Dell and none of my friends have either. Would I waste my time and money to find out what is on those old floppy discs? No way, they landed in trash. This is what will happens, sooner or later, with new technology now but 10 years later… destination trash. Boy I feel so sorry for video artists… (he, he)

XYguy

4/03/2007 10:37:00 PM  
Anonymous slide hater said...

what about the death of slides? i am rooting for the death of slides.

ps - winkleman, sweep your gallery... i am in ny, i am coming tomorrow.

codename: bluebird

4/03/2007 11:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

like jazz, painting isn't dead, it just smells funny...fz

4/04/2007 03:18:00 AM  
Blogger crionna said...

I expect that painting will be around for a long time to come simply because many people like to paint and many others like to view painted works.

Sometimes I find it odd that painting is the only type of sculpture (thin sculpture to be sure, but to my mind sculpture nonetheless) that differentiates itself by the medium. I mean folks who sculpt in metal don't call themselves metalers, nor do those who work in stone call themselves stoners (although others might;).

4/04/2007 03:22:00 AM  
Blogger Tim said...

Painting has been dead for a hundred fifty years or so. It's the only thing keeping it interesting. We should kill Digital Art. It is the only thing that will save it.

4/04/2007 04:05:00 AM  
Blogger fisher6000 said...

Joel Murphy has a piece in a digital art show at the Chelsea Art Museum that opens Thursday. And the show consists of a bunch of screens on pedestals and his piece, which is "digital" (about digital concepts) but is made of STUFF that MOVES and SPARKS and makes NOISE!

It's the best digital art I have ever seen. And, unsurprisingly, it's much more interesting than all the flash animations and websites and information projects. Digital art may "take over" if it becomes interesting enough to do so. But that would entail, I think, moving away from this flat screen we are all looking into right now.

I mean, I don't know about your screen, but my screen is a really boring, just-slightly-diminutive size and shape. Saying that digital art is going to take over is akin to saying that Smallish Easel Paintings will take over.

4/04/2007 08:18:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

A quick note on the ‘colors’ issue.
Technically the displayable range of colors for any medium or device is called the color gamut. It is device or medium dependant, so some paint colors will not display on a monitor, and some monitor colors cannot be reproduced with paint. As a real world issue it is not very relevant since the eye-brain makes suitable adjustments to contextualize what is being seen.

Painting is one of the most difficult mediums there is.
- It is deceptively simple, just color(s) on a surface.
- It has a very long history which allows comparisons of quality to be established.
- It is static, it freezes the time sequence of decisions made by the painter and allows the observer to see what the painter saw, but from the outside.
- It is widely practiced, making it a medium which is more difficult to be seen in an unique way.

Never the less, there will always be ‘new’ mediums, however regardless of the choice of medium, making great art is an elusive goal which achieved only vary rarely.

4/04/2007 09:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can't own an idea, but you can own a painting.

4/04/2007 10:27:00 AM  
Blogger Marc Snyder said...

I think it's useful to look at this idea of the "death of painting" from the perspective of a printmaker.

Almost every tool a printmaker picks up is a hopelessly outmoded antique. At some point in history, all of the various printmaking media were the most efficient way to make reproductions. But long after they lost their utility as the best way to make multiples, artists still pick them up to make images. Because nothing else looks and feels (and means) the same thing as a woodcut or an etching. Of course it's absurd to make prints with all of that antique hardward. Except that sometimes that is exactly what it takes to make the image you want.

To make a print is to acknowledge the beauty of a particular technology that has long since been replaced in the commercial worlds by more efficient and flexible (though not necessarily more interesting or meaningful) technologies.

I don't see how Painting is different in this regard, I think printmaking is just more comfortable with the idea that it's not a given that a particular medium is the best way to produce "art". Photography offered painting the same challenge - reexamine the medium to discover its particular strengths. Maybe when you hear that painting is "dead", what is actually being said is that painting just might not be the Definitive art medium, but simply Another art medium, and having that pedestal threatened is hard to take.

It's the artist making the artwork, not the medium. And the artist will use the tool that gets the job done, as the artist defines the job. To suggest that one tool will replace all the others seems to be contrary to the way people work.

4/04/2007 12:17:00 PM  
Blogger n8shac said...

Sorry to jump-in on the conversation all late with an over-simplified remedy to this charged discussion, but in an age of automatic weapons and cruise missles... is archery still an Olympic Sport?

In an age of Prisma-color markers and pens, don't people still draw with reeds, sticks, and quills?


The modern world still makes room for chariot races, civil-war re-enactors, and Ren Fairs. Money might come and go and make these events as timely, relevant, and fashionable as the caber-toss...

But somewhere, there will always be cabers to be tossed -- and a priviledged few who truly enjoy doing so. And at sometime or another, society will once again think it's a great idea to throw giant sticks.


Death of painting?? Generalized Art-market bubbles... ok, you might have me. But death of Painting? I'm more frightened of losing Kodachrome.

4/09/2007 04:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Richard T Scott said...

This is incredibly late, but I feel some important information is being overlooked, especially by those who claim that painting is "tired".

There is nothing that is absolutely new.

New media may come along, but any work done in that media reflects ideas and compositions and conventions that have been used before. Perhaps one might re-combine several canons to create something somewhat different. But, essentially, everything derives from something that came before.

Photography utilizes compositional ideas developed in painting. Film utilizes ideas developed in theater... going back the the drama of ancient Greece. In music you can see a more obvious continuum. Computers may use the same canons of design, color theory, etc...

Nothing is really "new", "fresh", "old", or "tired" it's merely one's subjective view that defines it as such. Certainly the media gluttony which we face every day on TV, Computers, magazines, billboards... desensitizes us to certain conventions used in advertising and such.

I'm going to sound like I'm contradicting myself here - but - at the same time, nothing is exactly like anything that has been done before. It can't be. Especially now, the cross-pollination of conventions, practices, canons, media can yield interesting and exciting work. Unlike any time before, we now have the objective (somewhat) ability to look over many structures, systems for creation, and access unprecedented amounts of information in short amounts of time. We can pick and choose. I think when any medium is "tired" it is because the artist has simply accepted a previous convention by the book, and does not tailor it to his own expression. If you work only with the methods of 17th century Dutch painters, you've got to hold yourself up to Vermeer, Rembrandt, Rubens, etc... Of course it looks tired if you just use Rembrandt's technique and ideas and don't make it your own. He certainly made the medium his own, he didn't follow the convention by the book, he redefined it.

I am a painter. I work in a very traditional style. But I don't let the conventions of that style limit me. I also work in print-making, ceramics, metal, glass, wood, photo-shop.....but for two-dimensional work I continually return to painting, because if you know what you're looking at, there is no adequate replacement. Especially if your content requires realism.

Photography does not capture reality. It simplifies the image by necessity of the tool. Value relationships, color, and contour lines/form are all compressed or skewed to varying degrees. Painting simplifies as well, but in the act of painting, the simplification is created by the human mind. Thus it is more closely related to how the brain understands the world around us.

Painting is not tired, Art is tired. The more you know about Art history, the more you realize that you've seen it all before. It is a rare - very rare moment when real art is actually made.

And I wouldn't want that moment erased if suddenly, my computer crashed. Which happens a lot more often than my studio burning down.

6/05/2007 08:12:00 PM  

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