all art is quite useless

after recently discovering the joy of oscar wilde’s company, i settled in to read the picture of dorian gray and was promptly hit with a preface which reaffirmed a view things, left me feeling like oscar’s disapproval had washed over me and simultaneously amused me at how some things change over time and some just don’t:

the artist is the creator of beautiful things
and should be rewarded accordingly

to reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim
considering that by the time wilde had written Dorian Gray, revealing the artist had long been a practice of art as well, perhaps mr wilde is showing his naivete. however, in terms of an antidote to the uber-ego of some artists, it does OK. where this maxim really shines is as a philosophical pat on the back when an artist is possibly getting lost with the purpose and intention of their work.

the critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things
if this isn’t a basis for which to celebrate artsblogs and artist-run-initiatives like un and runway, then i don’t know what is. to me, this validates artists as valid critics (especially as we’re already creating beautiful things).

it also a reminder that critics are also just creating impressions. that no person’s opinion is anything other than a response or reaction to something.

othewise know as: to reveal art and conceal the critic is criticism’s aim.

the highest as the lowest form of criticism is a mode of autobiography
which effectively makes this blog the lowest of low. not only is it autobiographical, but it is from someone who should be creating beautiful things, but spends most of her time looking at them instead. it does, however, give weight to the argument for objectivity in criticism and for the use of third person/plural pronoun, which has been discussed previously here.

those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. this is a fault.
yeah, perverts.

those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. for these there is hope. they are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty.
I think i’m going to post this on my wall. i like being cultivated. i like finding beautiful meanings in beautiful things (as i create them, before i write about them). As to being elect and a capital B on beauty, while i love the idea of thinking about what Beauty is, and personifying it with a capital, these days, i think there are other considerations as well as Beauty that indicate being cultivated.

there is no such things as amoral or immoral book. books are well written or badly written. that is all.
well, not acccording to John Howard’s new sedition laws, but we won’t mention that one shall we!

the nineteenth century dislike of realism is the rage of caliban not seeing his own face in a glass.
the twenty-first century dislike of contemporary art is the rage of howard not seeing his own face is the mirror.

the nineteenth century dislike of romanticism is the rage of caliban seeing his own face in a glass.
the twenty-first century dislike of political art and creative dissent is the rage of howard seeing his own face in a mirror

the moral life of man forms part of the subject-matter of the artist, but the morality of art consits in the perfect use of an imperfect medium.
morals.. hmm.. do habits and choices come under that description?

no artist desires to prove anything. even things that are true can be proved.
whether you like political art or not, as few proper critics seem not to, i don’t think this one is quite so true anymore. even if you’re not trying to prove something overtly politically, you’re trying to prove something conceptually, materially or symbolically. and if not to someone else, at least to yourself [or that nasty teacher in year 9 who said you’d never amount to nothing]. although if artists were rewarded accordingly, perhaps this might be true.

no artist has ethical sympathies. an ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable mannerism of style.
please, please, please may john mcdonald, sebastian smee or the artlife not read this blog. they have all argued, at some point, that art which has a bold political or ethical statement is either not worthwhile, or not art. i really don’t want them to be right, because while i’m not a relational aesthete, i firmly, firmly, firmly, believe that art needs to say things that the shitty tabloids don’t. it may not be beautiful with a capital B, but ethical sympathy in an artist is damn sexy! and unpardonable mannerism? isn’t that what post-modernism supposed to be?

no artist is ever morbid. the artist can express everything.
except ethical sympthies, apparently. and there are a few morbid artists, but i guess that can still express. so perhaps the definition for morbidity is not the expression of something depressive, but the depression of an ability to express.

thought and language are to the artist instruments of an art.
a shoe in, really. i don’t know any artist, great or awful, who doesn’t, at least at some point, use thought or language of some sort. whether that be material, conceptual or symbolic language, or at least a bit of thought, like ‘maybe if i put this blue here, it will look a bit like the sky’.

vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art.
this is a whole other kettle of fish and from a whole other generation, where vice and virtue were even words that you used to describe validity. thankfully, we had the 60s, which turned this whole thing upside down and gave us charming blank canvases, wacky lines all over the place, drug use like you wouldn’t believe and children who love a good mash-up.

from the point of view of form, the type of all the arts is the art of the musician. from the point of view of feeling, that actor’s craft is the type.

assuming that rhythm is a description of form, which, as a formalist of sorts (well, sorta), i’m inclined to agree with, i can dig this grand statements about musicians. but i’m sure that wilde isn’t intending to completely osctracise the rest of the arts from being a type of all the arts. perhaps the various boards of the australia council can nut this one out. perhaps it’s just a nice way of saying that musicians and actors, while being completely unhealthy and having the worst sleeping patterns, are still pretty good at floating our boats. vice, virtue and all that jazz aside.

all art is at once surface and symbol.
what a celebrity death match this would be if you had the abstract expressionists vs the symbolists. thankfully surface and symbol aren’t meant quite as literally, otherwise we’d end up with sanctioned art looking like jackson pollock meets james ensor! ew!

those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril
i guess these days, this is for anyone who creates work that isn’t intended to match the sofa. you do so at your own peril, but damn there are a bunch of spunks joining you in it!

those who read the symbol do so at their peril
see above

it is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.
i can see the t-shirt now: life immitates audience. i really want one actually.. and a few marketing/advertising mates of mine might dig it too!

diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex and vital.
so, for once all those clashing opinions in the comments section of the artlife are actually right! all of them. by that definition, there’s some interestingly new, complex and vital works. this also proves that a diversity of critical opinion is a vital element of any art scene. whether you like your tabloid, or your Broadsheet, discussion is vital.

when critics disagree the artist is in accord with himself.
now, how to get the critics to disagree…

we can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. the only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.
ah, the ol’ form vs function argument. well, sorry mr wilde, but that one’s been sorted for a good 50 years or so. since bakelite came into town. or maybe i’m wrong. maybe it’s still a discussion we have to have, but i have long forgiven myself for admiring a quirky chair, oh-so-minimal ceramic tea set, pretty much anything at Object or Space

all art is quite useless
here here. great innit?

thanks for subscribing to she sees red by lauren brown. xx

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