Thursday, 17 November 2011

Instant Art

One of my digital doodles!

I’ve just come across this link on the Greeting Card Universe forum.

It’s a discussion of the photography of German photographer, Andreas Gursky, in particular his ‘Rhein 11’ , which has recently been sold for 4.3 million US dollars. Do, at least, have a look at the photograph in question, even if you don’t plough through all the comments!

But reading just some of those comments certainly made me think!

It made me curious as to why the majority of the artists/photographers who commented were so very negative about the work in question, in spite of the explanations of Gursky’s intentions and the ‘message’ he intended to convey through his photography.

It didn’t seem as if they were interested in knowing what the photograph was all about; their sole criterion seemed to be the immediate visual impression it made on them. Was it ‘beautiful’ – no! Was it ‘cute’ – definitely not! It wasn’t even technically accomplished, according to some.

It seemed to me as if most of us look for certain qualities, usually to do with beauty, or ‘cuteness’, when judging a work of art and if we don’t see it immediately, we dismiss the work and move on.

I suspect that the internet has a part to play in this.

Maybe we are seeing so many images, day in day out, that we’ve lost the capacity to stop and linger on a piece of art, in just the same way that most of us ‘skim’ rather than read?

Generally, I’m not in favour of ‘explanations’ of works of art – or music, for that matter. For me, it’s all about communication and if the work itself doesn’t speak to me, without a written or spoken explanation, it has failed in its purpose as far as I’m concerned (though, of course, it may ‘speak to’ others!).

But often, I think, a piece of art needs time to convey its message. 

Sometimes a piece grabs my attention with all the immediacy of a tannoy system.  More often though, an image’s message affects me only if I give it time. When I visit an exhibition, I never look at all the exhibits in one visit. I like to make several visits and limit each visit to one or two pieces – unless of course there’s an expensive admission ticket to be mindful of!

Have you seen people sitting or standing in front of a great work of art for what may be hours on end?

Have you wondered whether they’ve just come in out of the cold for a sit down? Well, maybe they have! But maybe they are silently absorbing the message of the painting in front of them. Maybe they are thinking about the painting, trying to understand it with their minds. If so, that’s not what I mean.

Obviously we are influenced by our surroundings; you don’t need to be an interior designer to recognise that colours and shapes influence our mood. Maybe it’s a subliminal influence – I don’t know the science of how it works. But in the same way, a painting or photograph, a work of art that we live with or see regularly, will, over time, seep into our souls and we will gradually hear what it wanted to communicate.

I believe that could be true of Andreas Gursky’s work.

Can you imagine living alongside Rhein ll and how that would affect you? I very much doubt if it would make you feel glad to be alive; in fact it might well even depress you! But in that case, as a ‘social comment’ it would have succeeded. There is plenty to be seriously concerned about these days – our fragile economies and the deepening rifts in our increasingly unequal society.

We can turn a blind eye, preferring ‘the kitten in shoes, raindrops on rose petals or a naked woman’s behind’, mentioned in one of the comments; or we can wake up to the ‘message’, which at least allows for the possibility of doing something about it!

Thank you to Lj for sharing this interesting subject on the forum.


Anonymous said...

Interesting blog, very well said.
Rosalie Rosie Cards

Judy Adamson said...

Thank you, Rosalie :)

Cheri's Sweetshoppe said...

There are many pieces of art or photography that can move me, as each one can be unique & represent something meaningful to me. I definitely don't think photography has to be 'lovely' in the traditional sense of the word. I have always been able to find beauty even in a desert,or everyday scenes, so I can relate to the message behind this man's art. But...I most definitely would never pay that astronomical amount to purchase it lol I tend to think more along the lines of how much good that money spent could have done towards poverty,or even towards the very message he is striving to convey. Enjoyed reading your thoughts! =)

Judy Adamson said...

Thank you for your comments, Cheri :)

I agree with you about the money!

But does anyone know what the artist intends to do with it? It could be that he will do some good with it - or not. Who knows?

SFCount said...

I've been sort of pondering this on and off all day. I DO believe much of success as an artist comes from who you know and how you're promoted. I've seen works of "art" that can only be explained by knowing the "right people". That being said, art is very much in the eye of the beholder. If someone thinks it's art, then it is. Obviously, this held some appeal for whoever the buyer was. Maybe he lives in some dreary windowless room and wanted a river view. :)

Judy Adamson said...

Hi Sarah - it's reassuring to know I'm not alone in 'pondering' these things!

Your image of a millionaire living in a windowless room, large enough to accomodate this huge photo is almost enough to give rise to another 'digital doodle'! LOL

Country Mouse Studio said... There's a trend going on as here is Canada's million dollar painting. I think we're trying too hard :O)
Seriously thought, I don't know if we're ever going to figure out what sells and what doesn't but I do think it has a lot to do with who you know.

Judy Adamson said...

I had a look and that really is mind-boggling! Especially as it was a while ago so maybe they even paid more for it than the Gursky fetched, when you allow for inflation?