Thursday, November 30, 2006

Wot a load o' rarbish

More de-cutting, more reading, more ideas. An August 17, 2003 Telegraph profile of Damien Hirst (recently in the papers for being worth more or less £400 million)

The wot-a-load-of-rubbish scepticism of Joe Public- once mocked as philistinism - is increasingly echoed within the cultural elite. The playwrite Sir Tom Stoppard has been prominent among those asking if the kind of work produced by Hirst and his contemporaries is art on any other basis than the artist's description of it as such.
Strange this does not usually apply to writing. It is rarely claimed some of the pretty basic writing of many thriller writers is art in the writery sense, so why so for art and artists? One reason is because art requires a bit more education that reading does. If you can read complicated enough writing and you read enough of it, you will come to conclusions about what is crafted writing and what is not. That is because of all those things Chomsky said about language, even if he isn't the only one with ideas in that area nowadays

An answer to how Hirst's work is considered art, elsewhere in the profile: Saatchi bought the stuff. I remember being impressed by the notion in some art related book or other that the triangle of art, dealer and buyer is what makes art art. Anything - natural or artifact - could theoretically have valued added to it, and in the world of art frequently does. There is a small set of very rich and talentless Brit Artists who are only so (rich and talentless) because the dealers have made a few bob and the buyers even more. Hirst's shark, if it hasn't rotted to some sort of primordial soup and been chucked out on the quiet, will pass hands for large amounts of money for yonks till eventually no one is interested in buying it. No one who is in the chain is worried about whether the stuff has artisitc merit or not. That is the job of those who stand in front of the creations in galleries and pour over them in coffee table books.


A small rider added Monday 11 December:

Very often it is the talentless trying for effect which produces so much of the unart. Yet the click of a camera from a master - 1/60 second, the depth of field guessed quickly: an f stop one way or another might ruin it - creates the greatest art imaginable. Yes, the art was in the brain, and it may have taken only a fraction of a second to decide to frame and shoot. Rather like a well-edited movie, a photograph may have been later cropped severely to remove extraneous details to maximise impact. But the photographer knows instinctively where he has to take a rushed shot or lose what he sees: being prepared to take a wider shot in order to get it at just the right moment, and the element of prediction - will a subject move in a certain way, get ready to shoot just in case; will the light fall as one hopes - make for art in a way that any number of slogans scrawled across walls or the inside of tents will never do.


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