Those few people that have talked with me about art, something I am always excited to do, know I am not the biggest fan of conceptual art. I don’t dislike all of it, some conceptual artists have done some amazing things such as Joseph Bueys 7,000 Oaks Project. Always good to plant more trees, even if it’s labeled an art project. However, most of the time when I think about conceptual art I think of Paul McCarthy’s Class Fool performance in 1979, in which he threw himself around in a ketchup splattered room at UC San Diego until injured, vomited a few times and then inserted a Barbie Doll in his anus. Most of the viewers could not stand to finish watching the performance. This type of art makes for great headlines, articles, and conversations, but in the end I feel that this kind of art takes attention away from those artists that create something as skilled technically as it is conceptually, but lack the instant shock factor, or as Jonathan Jones states in his latest article “it’s a laugh, it’s entertainment, it’s spectacular, it’s cool … art now aspires to be all the things fashion is.” (source)
Entitled Art As We Know It Is Dead, Jones talks about the idea that current art is over. It has shown itself as nothing more than “the decor of an age of mercantile madness”. To a certain extent I agree with this. One can no doubt look at pieces by Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, and many more as art-factory-made products, in which the money attached to the piece is more important than the art itself. Of course many of the fans of lowbrow/pop surrealism know that not all current art is like this, and many of the ideas and political/social connections that the more public contemporary art is lacking, this scene is more attuned to. I often think of artists such as Francisco Goya, being inspired by the invasion of the French, created his timeless works The Third of May 1808 and The Disasters of War series and wonder where are the artists today that are creating art based on the issues that are going on in the real world. I think it’s great to be entertained, to escape, and most importantly laugh, but is that balance between reality and fantasy even there with the majority of the conceptual art world? I would like to see more reality based art in the contemporary scene we pay attention to, but I know it is at least going in that direction.
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Above image is Medicine Cabinets by Damien Hirst.