13 April, 2014

Nobody Was Harmed In The Making Of This Artwork

Hanging Tree in Color
@7" x 15"
Casey Klahn

How many people consider nostalgia to be the pinnacle of art?  An astounding number in your circle, no doubt, see the number one function of paintings and drawings to be taking them back to a bygone era. The Victorian era, perhaps. Roaring Twenties, anyone? 

Once upon a time, I showed a drawing of a tree that I had just rendered to this man I barely knew. He thought to compliment me by suggesting that there, on the branch, I ought to place a man hanging. That would amp the emotional appeal, I suppose. 

That is precisely what practitioners of fine art are supposed to avoid: the appeal to sympathy or nostalgia. The reason is that it is an attempt to recruit the viewer based on an appeal to his feelings about something. How in Bloody Sunday am I supposed to guess people's feelings? Is it wisest for the artist to take a pole of the relatively specific feelings of the greatest majority of rubes who might wander past his artwork as it hangs, in perpetuity, seeking those whom it will conquer? 

It's a rather progressive approach to marketing art, and altogether wrongheaded for lots of reasons.  The most important reason it is wrong is that contemporary art should be my soapbox - my ideas. Not Aunt Sweeney's, and not Joe Q. Public's sympathies. My ideas are universal enough to appeal and conquer plenty fine, thank you. 

No criminal needs to hang in a tree for the advancement of my art today. Live and let live, I say.  

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Abstract Expressionism, Art Criticism, Artists, Colorist Art, Drawing, History, Impressionism, Modern Art, Painting, Pastel, Post Impressionism