Uh…What Happen To Skill?

Artist – noun

1.  One, such as a painter, sculptor, or writer, who is able by virtue of imagination and talent or skill to create works of aesthetic value, especially in the fine arts.

2.  A person whose work shows exceptional creative ability or skill.  

  As an artist I am very well aware that art is subjective and as the saying goes “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Yet no matter how objective and open minded I try to be, some things…well, a lot of things, make me scratch my head. But even as an artist I am often very hesitant to say so because there is always that immediate response of “Well, you just don’t understand.” causing me to question my own judgement when I see art that literally looks like something that anyone with a big paintbrush and a bucket of Behr can create yet sells for millions. It’s this style of art that I’m afraid gives the general public the idea that art is easy, frivolous and nonsensical. I feel that in some cases the general public is justified in their thinking. To me, there’s a difference between art and good art and that difference lies in skill, whether that skill is in being able to convey emotion through the use of color or the capability to exquisitely render in great detail the raindrops on leaves. We have tumbled a long way from when we used to marvel at the works of Michelangelo to the above painting by Rothko. Honestly, I lay part of the blame on Duchamp’s “Fountain” and Postmodernism along with the replacement of skill with pure expression. Consider me old fashioned and a traditionalist but I just don’t think that when people view art they should be asking “What is it?” or “What does it mean?” And I don’t think telling them that the artist is expressing a “rigorous attention to formal elements such as color, shape and balance” provides much of a context or explanation to help them understand what they are seeing when what they are looking at is literally a painting of a yellow rectangle and blue rectangle on an eight foot canvas, which sold for $46.5 million dollars. 

“There is too much stuff in society and certainly in the art world that is sanctified garbage. And for various reasons of self-preservation or timidity nobody blurts out the truth.” ~ Ian Roberts Creative Authenticity