The general public is the new avant-garde

What about all that art?

Some say (sometimes even me) that there doesn’t seem to be many standards anymore. Outside the little box of the sanctity of a museum or art gallery, anything goes. Everything is open game to be sold, all being prostitutes to the all mighty dollar.

Prints abound. Images are found on the internet with such great numbers that there does not seem to be any real ownership of those things visual. Media files, digital images of all sorts, from those taken directly with a camera, to those manipulated with various programs, music, video clips, all of it, the accepted standard these days is if it is on the internet, it is fair game. Unless you are a visual or performing artist who has the time to chase down anyone who infringes, then if you put it up on the web, you can kiss any rights goodbye. If you want an image to keep its sanctity, then don’t put it up. Period.

Artists in our art history, and by history I mean prior to 1900, never had to deal with their work being thrust in to the public sphere. Maybe it is because there weren’t a lot of people who could afford even the prints – or maybe they would have been, if the printing services had been available. Begs an interesting question doesn’t it? I think that those pre-1900 artists had enough to deal with in breaking the representational and the traditional painting rules, than have to contend with issues of reproduction.

The education level of the general populace of pre-1900 was much lower than today. Our current education system, while it has its faults, definitely has raised the bar of the median intelligence and awareness. Likely the people of days gone by didn’t really have to worry much about saving the planet, or oil spills, still, the awareness of these sorts of issues are in the forefront of our children’s school and home lives. But neither did they have the ability to instantly communicate with someone half way across the world in the less time it takes to walk to their bathroom. People lived in one room houses as opposed to four bedroom mansions. We live with the ability to go off in comfort and have quiet space and time to ponder life, the universe and everything. With this education, this space to think, this instant gratification which is so prevalent in today’s world, also comes an increased ability to understand or project that understanding of possibility on to abstract concepts.

This is the key thing I think, that the abstract is more commonly understood by Joe Public when it comes to everyday living.

Many artists were questioned by the representational and traditional artists on whether the art they created was, in fact, art: the subject, the style, the palette…  and it goes on even now… Picasso it is said, would sell anything if he could. With so many people in the world, there must be art to fill all their walls. People breed indiscriminantly and it seems that artists proliferate in the same way.

Context and/or the lack of, the understanding of their community impact, elevation of the public’s education and knowledge, artists have contributed to where we are now. It is the artistic version of the H bomb where artists of yesterday, in their pursuit of awareness, pushed for the ever increasing lack of barriers to what is art.

While the artists themselves, historical and contemporary, try to push the boundaries of what and where is art, the public are the ones who are really tearing them down. Everyone is an artist these days.

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