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What is art, who is an artist?


In the present time and context Contemporary Art is what the artist wants to express; the artist is the person who expresses himself through art. Before we used to say art was the expression of Beauty.


I’d like to understand that better....


I can historicise the concept by talking about a Before and an After. Let me explain in more detail: Art had an identity crisis, on the one hand with the advent of Kantian philosophy, which denied the possibility of metaphysical values and thus even of Beauty, and on the other with the arrival of technology (photography and movies). The Age of Enlightenment destroyed the Before.


And with less doctrine what are you saying......


...that the advent of photography made the use of art as a means of representing reality and nature psychologically pointless, but also that the impossibility of absolute truth made the search for Beauty inaccessible. In theory, the artist – now – uses art to show himself to the world and no longer to show himself the world.


Just a minute. Let’s try to keep to the historical and concrete facts....


Historically the !rst aspects to be a#ected were technique and light. Look at the Impressionists and the Fauves. The changes all poured in like an avalanche coming down a mountain. And the Olympus where the Values reside is very high up.


But are you saying that art has become detached from Beauty, and is no longer art?


OH NO! I’ve never said nor meant that. Art is still Art even without Beauty. I just want to acknowledge something that happened.


And then...


What happened then is there for all to see: an avalanche, growing bigger and gathering speed, setting the pace for new research: Suprematism, Futurism, Dadaism and even Cubism. But the problem isn’t about proposing new ideas: Pop Art or Trans-avant-garde, Arte Povera or Land Art. Art is like the donkey Cattelan hung from the ceiling which, if you think about it, was really the artist hanging himself.


I’m afraid you’ve lost me again....


The artist doesn’t solve his problem by searching for the answers: colour, technique, light, style, eventually abandoning his works in favour of a performance.....The astonishment inherentin art isn’t enough: no-one standing near the artist’s shit by Manzoni or the shark at the Saatchi Gallery (it is no longer the art or the artist that are interesting, but the person promoting it...) or watching videos by many performers or looking at Kawara’s postcards experience the same emotions when looking at a work from the Before.




As Contemporary Art has lost its anchorage to the Metaphysical and Reality, it proposes itself as Religion and Church; indeed... it has become the polytheist area of the many Churches. Today every artist is a priest.

This issue is felt so strongly that many contemporary artists place their essence simply in the Hallmark. By that I mean they simply focus on putting all their energy into gaining recognition for their work. The recognition of an artist’s work ought to be the e#ect of its being, not a prearranged project, but then... what else can you expect of a person trying to !nd his way across stormy seas with no points of reference. And if the layman can see fat people and recognise Botero, then that makes his life simpler...


What do you suggest?


A novelty? NO. A new Hallmark? NO. Creating the element of surprise? NO. New techniques and

proposals? NO. A re"ection? Maybe, or a consideration. We have often wondered, for instance, why, before setting to work on a blank canvas, Caravaggio or Rubens never tried to go beyond its bidimensionality... perhaps by making a hole in it with a knife! Of course, photography hadn’t been invented then... or movies... But it is also hard for us to acceptthat Leonardo da Vinci, an artist and foreseeing scientist, never, and I repeat, never, dreamt that the artist’s shit could be left to future generations...So do you think we ought to go back to the Before? That would be impossible.


What then?


We must !nally accept the fact that we’re now in the After. That way we can stop using stupid, hypocritical terms like: interesting, strange, fascinating, but we can’t say Beautiful any more.


Posted by Rebis The Artist on 8/8/12

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