Monday, April 26

Why the cynicism?

A fascinating presentation was given in my art history class today. The assignment chosen was to compare and contrast a Baroque artist with a Rococo artist. This team had chosen Caravaggio to represent the Baroque period (I dearly love Baroque art) and, oddly enough, Thomas Kinkead to represent the Rococo. Kinkead actually does embody Rococo art fairly well, though his work may be considered a reference to or recapitulation of Rococo ideals rather then truly sharing them. After all, Kinkead is not about hedonistic pleasure-seeking, or the ideals of romantic love, as seen in Rococo art. But I digress. The class got into a lively discussion about whether or not Kinkead is, as he claims to be, a "counter-culture" artist. The case can be made (convincingly, I think) that Kinkead is indeed going against current art culture. He is not even speaking to the art world, as such, but to the consumer world(which is another issue entirely which I shall not address here.)

One member of my class insisted that his work was "boring" and asked no questions of the audience (a comment I might agree with.) She claimed that he was "making things appear valuable" which really weren't, and that was too idealistic. She then went on to insist that his work might be "good art" if he painted his houses with a bit of irony or sarcasm.

Why? Why must we have this sarcasm? Are people not tired of feeling like all artists are mocking them? Why do you think the common man does not go to contemporary art galleries? Because he wants someone who speaks his language, who will not take what he values and turn it into a farce. This is why the Getty is so enduringly popular; anyone with $5 for parking can go and see great art that is reasonably understandable to Everyman. Yet art people don't like the Getty; want to guess why? Enough is enough.

We do not need more sarcasm. (Granted, I don't think we need more Kinkead, either). We need a Rembrandt, a Caravaggio, an Artemisia, a Van Gogh; someone who will take common life and glorify it, instead of taking what is sacred and valuable and making it ironic.

Who will be the next artist to show us incarnation?

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