To celebrate my birthday, allow me to present something wearing a party hat!
I also just noticed that someone left me a long comment at Elfwood telling me that while I was very good, I was too flamboyant about identifying the weaknesses of other artists and had placed myself on a high horse. This baffled me a trifle–not that I’m surprised I’m on a high horse, I mean, c’mon, I’m a arrogant sod at the best of times!–but I am usually neurotic to the point of insanity about not saying ANYTHING bad about other artists, because–well, “I try to be a nice person” is a terribly pathetic thing to say, and I feel like I’m rolling over and exposing my throat to the cosmos with a sign saying “Rip Here” but there you are. In fact, so far as I can tell, the only artist I make a snide remark about in my entire gallery is…Chris Lassen. (You know the guy. Reefs packed with improbable fish, white tigers, whales, and pastel planets, all jammed together in squishy squishness.) Elsewhere I bemoan the brilliance of the pre-Raphaelites and my own unworthiness in relation, praise the coolness of Susan Seddon Boulet, drool over the Art Nouveau masters and mention in passing that Amara Telgemeier kicks major ass. So…err…yeah. A dozen droolings and I’m-not-worthyings evidentally don’t equal one expression of mild distaste. (Okay, okay, I might have expressed the desire for the man to be eaten by elephant seals for the irony, but for ME that’s an expression of mild distaste. Hyperbole would be my middle name, but my parents weren’t that cruel.)
Are artists just not allowed to express distaste for some artwork? Can we not say “Look, Picasso does nothing for me and Anne Geddes gives me the creepin’ heebie-jeebie-weebies and I don’t know what that thing there is, but if I had to live with it in the house, I’d go barking mad and put out my eyes with a dremel?” I mean, I know a smattering about anthropology and a teeny bit about art and I know enough about writing to know that I’m not qualified to have much of an opinion, but if I know about ANYTHING, it’s art. Not enough to be a critic, or give people clear, coherent, quality critiques without spending an hour twitching, but it’s the one field in which I have even a baseline competency. I know, I know, art is subjective. Very subjective. We’re not allowed to say something is bad, because someone might find deep meaning in it. Well, I would like to say, for the record, that you don’t get it both ways. If it’s so bloody subjective, we oughta be allowed to know what we like, and if we DON’T like it, that’s JUST as valid as somebody who has a religious experience in front of it. (Generally, of course, if it’s someone I actually know, and they’re standing there, I would sooner fake a seizure than express dislike, because courtesy is so ingrained in many of us that we would apologize for bleeding to death on someone’s nice clean carpet. But anyway.) For example, I don’t like “The Scream” or whatever that painting is that isn’t really called “The Scream” but that everybody calls “The Scream.” Doesn’t do a damn thing for me. I’m sure it’s a brilliant expression of the madness and despair of absinthe hallucinations, but it leaves me cold. I go “Meh.” Same with most of Van Gogh’s stuff. It may contain the seeds of greatness, it will probably be better than anything I will ever create if I live to be as old as the hills and paint until my dying breath, but it doesn’t do a damn thing for me. Possibly I’m a Philistine. I shrug and say “Okay, sure.” I know people who have practically met God looking at Van Gogh’s work, and I still go “Meh.” And if art is subjective, that ought to be just as valid as anything else.
So, uh, does not liking something automatically mean that I am an arrogant sod, then? Are artists required to be happy and appreciative of everything done by every other artist under the sun? Or is it just late, and I’m engaged it defensive bitching?
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