Rob Adams a Painter's Blog painter's progress

July 28, 2016

Mad with the Power

Filed under: Art History,Philosophy,Satire — Tags: , , — Rob Adams @ 11:05 am

I am officially qualified to make art. Yes I mean it, I have a bit of paper, which only I and the person who shoved it in an envelope has ever seen, that says Robert Adams, Ba Hons Sculp (3rd class). Which is as near, I might add, as it is possible to get on a Fine Art course to failing, but none the less it confirms I have the power. I can look, or even if I am bold intervene on an object, and with a wave make it art. Move it from the category of the mundane to an elevated existence. Ok, Ok waving is probably a bit too Harry Potter with an Art Wand… maybe just pin an A4 sheet of impenetrable art-speak next to it… Now people will look at this thing differently, they will stroke their chins and ponder, they will feel the need to say that I explore the boundaries of the mundane and the elevated, with a bit of luck they might even pay me so they can stroke their chins at home and impress their friends with their avant-garde taste in art.

Great power, as Spiderman’s Uncle Ben once said, comes with great responsibility. I could theoretically pin a bit of paper on the Child Okeford village noticeboard declaring the whole village art, or even the whole of Dorset, drunk with power I could claim the entire universe as my creation and artify the whole shebang! Tricky to exhibit I suppose, just an A4 in an empty gallery declaring my act of will would do it though. Ah yes I can see it, a pure white cube of empty space with a single sheet of paper on one of the pristine walls. The Turner prize would be a shoe in, Kirsty Wark would interview me in that humble mortal talking to a high priest manner she has, hanging on my every statement concerning my realms of concern and posing deferential enquires as to how I became such a genius.

But maybe best not, how will everyone feel to be just the raw materials for my art? What if someone objects to being merely the paint on my conceptual brush? I could of course put my bit of paper in a locked box and declare that within it lay the greatest creative statement ever. Hmm that might be enough for the prize in itself! Me not saying what it is would become part of the work and no one would need to know that I had artified them and the entire multiverse without  asking first.

Other artists might be a problem too, their art would just become a footnote to my far larger conceptual reach. Artists are an egotistical lot they are bound to object. By signing and dating the entire universe I have made their work mine which could cause me to be accused of plagiarism… The other worry is that they have the power too. I would worry that they might de-artify my masterpiece. Very tricky, can an artist take back the fairy dust of artification? Is artifying a one way street? I don’t see why it should be, if I scrape off a painting it is very much de-arted, so what is possible in the practical world should be possible in the conceptual, easier too…

Lets try it there is nothing like experimental evidence. Here is my breakfast in a mundane state.

breakfast

 

now below here it is “Artified”

 

breakfast

Pretty impressive, the difference is striking it now says so much more, it comments on society and how we always seem to fall short of our dietary ambitions. How the  paradigm of the dialectical forces inherent in the working classes express themselves in a glorious hymn to cholesterol. Now the acid test the de-artified version:

 

breakfast

Well that pretty much proves it, the breakfast is just breakfast again with no subtext.

This is going to cause a storm in the art world I fear. What if Anthony Gormley de-artifies one of my paintings? Do I retaliate in kind and de-art the Angel of the North? I can envisage two artists duelling each arting and de-arting objects by pinning A4 conceptual declarations in turn. Some miscreant could pin an A4 sheet saying “This is not an Oak Tree” next to Michael Craig Martin’s seminal work. What if someone de-arts the Sistine Chapel? Would the people stop going? The Pope would have to get Damien Hurst in to re-art it or the Vatican would be very much out of pocket.

I am now worrying as to whether I should post this. By clicking “post” I am changing the whole fabric of Western Art entirely. No one will ever look at art the same way again. Perhaps best not, the disruption would set artist against artist, a civil war in the art world. Tracy Emin might get blackmailed by a rogue artist threatening to de-art her bed. The foundations of the art world would be shaken and undermined. More to the point auction prices could plummet, no collector would ever feel secure knowing that their collection of shiny Jeff Koons doggies might be mundanified at any moment by a dissident artist… Then again there is always the chance that I might get that Kirsty Wark interview and be on the telly…

 

 

June 25, 2016

Creators and Creations and Hugh Ferriss

Filed under: Art History,Drawing,Perspective,Uncategorized — Tags: , — Rob Adams @ 2:17 pm

By now you all know that I am interested in how art gets to be Art and whether there is anything other than the ordinary human specialness that an artist has. This in turn brings me in opposition to the apparent establishment view that art is imbued by some sort of invisible talismanic property with the artists channeling it.

Part of the confusion is to my mind due to our woeful sense of causality. We happily believe that our homeopathic remedy made us better. Well we took the pill and we got better, what could be simpler? Well of course people who are poorly are a group that has an overall tendency to recover whether they take pills and potions or not. What the potion has done however is modify how we perceive being ill, it has reassured. It has also changed how we remember being ill after the event.

It is similar with creation. Our universe exists therefore it must have a creator. If it has a creator then that creator must be God. Well let me take you to the planet Bolg, where an eminent Bolg scientist has discovered how to collapse matter. You can give it as many limbs, tentacles and eyes as you wish. Bolg is rather careless and accidentally gives its equipment a much larger pulse of energy than was intended. A bubble of space time is created that expands exponentially extinguishing Bolg and its universe in an instant. As this experimental error develops matter coalesces, stars and planets form and on a certain blue world an ape looks up and wonders why.

Now our creator here just certainly not one we would pray to and indeed has predeceased its creation. It would do us little good if we could study the character and emotions of our creator in this case. Just as religion argues for the primacy of a Creator over the creation, current art thinking argues for the primacy of the artist over the art. That something ineffable flows from the artist into their creation changing its nature. More specifically the intent to create something is the real “Art”and the true moment of creation. If that is the case then merely declaring that the intent is there is sufficient the actual act need not be carried out.

I cannot help think this is a regression back to medieval thought, full of portents and hidden meanings rather than a continuation of the march of reason.

I am oddly reminded of how sympathetic magic works. You curse someone and tell them that you are sticking pins into a wax effigy with a few purloined  toenails embedded. The important act here is not the cursing, the snitched toenails or the wax, but the informing of the victim of these acts of malign intent. If you didn’t tell the victim, superstitious or not, nothing would occur. There would be no benefit from a homeopathic pill given secretly. In the same way much art requires for us to be told it is to be considered in that category of objects. We therefore display the object in some context that indicates how we are meant to appreciate it.

So the art here is in the act of informing a viewer of the status of the object. The object itself is largely irrelevant. Artists have always understood this and put fancy gold frames around paintings to separate them from the mundane objects around them. The word for this is of course context. Mr Andre’s bricks would be less worthy of note in a builders yard. I don’t by the way dislike the bricks as they point out rather elegantly the problems of giving primacy to the artist’s deciding act.

So back to causality. That the artist caused the art is not in question. Whether others are caused to appreciate it as such is dependent on information and context. I am, I have to say, only mildly interested in such art, I am more interested in its history and the nature of it coming to be perceived as art than any aesthetic factor. For me art is something that can be appreciated as such without appropriate contextual hints. It all comes back to the skip test. If you put your masterpiece of cutting edge art  in the skip without a frame to plinth would someone rescue it just because it was made by a skilled hand and brought visual pleasure?

Now for some art, not mine this time, but someone who was very influential on me and many others. Hugh Ferriss was an architectural draughtsman working in the 1920’s who’s moody renderings of future cities were both influential upon real buildings and many a dystopian setting for sci-fi films.

 

Hugh Ferriss

There are Futurist influences here and Ferriss worked with architect with connections to the Bauhaus. I always think that despite the moodiness and hints of later Nazi architecture Ferriss’ drawings are optimistic in that “science will conquer all” manner.

 

Hugh Ferriss

If you put modern cars in this no one would feel it was a dated image. It is dated 1930 just as the foundations of the Empire State building were being laid.

 

Hugh Ferriss

He was a master of cheating the perspective to get both ground level and the giddy heights to read convincingly. The dramatic imagined shadows from up-lighting and the base of the building dissolving in the light are wonderful.

 

Hugh Ferriss

Here again the streets glow, but oddly there are no individual lights and the monolithic buildings have no lit windows.

 

Hugh Ferriss

One of his more futuristic imaginings. Odd that the international modernist style lost such ambition and failed to produce any unified vision. This is why our cities are collections of disparate objects that have little connection one to another.

 

Hugh Ferriss

A more restrained drawing of the Hoover dam, I love they lonely figure.

 

Hugh Ferriss

I found this which I hadn’t seen before. It shows how he laid out and resolved his compositions. He is using curved perspective on the crosswise horizontals and linear for the diminishing edges. Also no perspective at all on the verticals.

 

Hugh Ferriss

There was concern at that time in New York as to how tall buildings would reduce the daylight in the streets below so a formula was devised to make the buildings step back as they rose higher. Hugh Ferriss was asked to do drawings to illustrate their effect on the building masses. These were later published with other work in The Metropolis of Tomorrow

I am off to France for what I hope will be an orgy of painting and drawing so next post will show if I was firing on all or any cylinders after my long break!

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