I was watching a documentary called “Herb and Dorothy” about two New York art collectors and there was one line that echoed every fear that I have when it comes to creating art. “I saw other people's work and it was better than ours, so we stopped making art” This is the single worst thing an artist can do. So many artists have pieces on a gargantuan scale, and love to necessitate some kind of long winded explanation so that only the most well read art historian can understand what the artist is trying to communicate without hearing some kind of overly intellectualized explanation beforehand.
Art should be about inspiring others to appreciate life and the world, I hate it when an art piece “refers to itself” or when asked about a certain piece the artist/exhibition person mentions some kind of minute detail that points towards a philosophical allegory. Or even worse, when the lack of anything recognizable is implicitly the point.
One of the failings that I see with modern Art is that it seems as though artists have thrown pragmatism out the window. Anybody can make up an excuse for creating a massive piece and add on an explanation in order to make the viewer feel as though it’s valuable. I don’t see how sculptures of lines and shit can ever make me feel like a more fulfilled human being. The sole intent of the artist needs to be for the benefit for the viewer. If the single thing that makes a piece of art valuable to society is the explanation given by the artist then the artist is subverting communication away from the work of art and into the realm of discourse. Why should I waste my time with looking at the work of art when I can just read the story about it? I can’t help but feel the hive mentality has taken over most people's appreciation of artwork. I think modern art museums have capitalised on people's squeamishness in regards to criticism of things that they don’t understand and so the thought process in average Joe’s mind goes something along the lines of “Well, I can’t do any better, so who am I to say otherwise?”
I feel as though every artist needs to be vigilant with the work that they make. Constantly on guard from appearing so clean, so perfect, and so art-like that only the most skilled practitioners of the craft can look at it and think to themselves “I can do that” Art needs to inspire others to not only experience emotion, but to also bring forth a call to arms in terms of seeing, appreciating, creating etc. To appreciate a good work of art is to not only recognize the communication that the artist is trying to convey, but to simultaneously feel compelled to change yourself or the world as well. Whether that be through appreciating your neighbors (Henri Cartier-Bresson), humanities imperfect body (Bruce Gilden), or recognizing that modern capitalist society is made on the broken backs of slaves (Sebastio Salgado). Imagine a book where the only text is an explanation of its value because the book itself is a beautiful shape. Useless right? But a book (or work of art) that educates someone about a point in time, or what the creator felt at a given point in time can be useful if it finds an audience that appreciates it.