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What the devil artist. I wouldn't go where I'm one tonight. Ask me your are just too lazy to learn how to paint. Your comments. Well such observations have led us to try to reduce the confusion surrounding contemporary art as we ask a question of art each week at this time a question about contemporary art will be discussed by an art scholar. It was a skeptic producer of the series Walt Richter. Do introduce the panelists in our last program which dealt with the question of art as a form of communication I do agree that contemporary art while being a medium of communication communicates different messages than the more traditional forms. Not only may contemporary work have a specific message but it's structure in itself is a message
today to take up the question With whom does the artist communicate. We're going to have at our microphones Dr. Magnus and Lawrence out of a way that is out of the way you may recall has been intimately connected with art for over 20 years. An Englishman that I became associated with the National Gallery in London one thousand forty eight. Since then he has lectured in Britain on artists held office in a number of important art organizations and has become recognized as a leading art critic. In 1962 Lawrence Alloway became curator of the Solomon r Guggenheim Museum in New York City and at the time of this recording Mr. Otway was artist in residence at Southern Illinois University. Dr. Gearhart Magnus professor of fine arts came to his interest in art through his studies in English. He became interested in the relationships between 17th century literature and 17th century art and soon this interest in art matched that of his interest in English. Prior to his appointment as professor of
fine arts at Southern Illinois University Dr. Magnus was director of academic affairs at what I believe is the oldest school of art in the country the Philadelphia College of Art. We're going to address our central question first of all I think to Mr. Alloway With whom does the artist communicate. The question is an important one since we did agree that art is a form of communication last week. I think we have to face. Who is he communicating with. And I think one of the things we have to face is that the onset is not as simple as one would like it to be perhaps of people who like things to be tidy. Because I think that the artist communicates. Definitely tour to several different audiences and not just when he has done his painting in a way is the first audience he steps back and looks at it and it begins to be separated from
him. And while the work is still in the studio away and is likely to be seen by the artist's friends his wife and girlfriend. Whatever you know critics museum people a collector and it's while it's in the studio that it has a very intimate audience who understand without having to ask too much what he was working for or what he was about as a great rapport between that first intimate audience and the work of art I think part of this is likely due to the report between the artist and the first audience. Exactly so. Now that doesn't work about. It comes with successful work about the most to a larger audience. It moves then to a collector's walls at most to an art gallery. Might move to a museum in which case it's still seen by an audience that is primarily interested in art. The collectors friends the galleries visitors and so on but nevertheless it is much bigger and it's people who don't
know the artist and now have to look at the work of art and the absence of particular knowledge much particular knowledge of the artist. And at this point I think the original intimate understanding of direct communication undergoes a change. It may be some other elements in the way the formal elements of the work may become more important than they were in the studio. The you know the Art Gallery go out well study the color and see how that's been handled. But does a Fed audience beyond that assuming the work gets reproduced and distributed and that is when it is in Time magazine on television. You know the traveling exhibition. And then it needs a third even wider audience whom we could really call a mass audience. I would say there's an intimate audience a large audience and a mass audience who sees the work of art accidentally along with a whole lot of other
things that it sees during the day not to each of these different levels. I think we have to assume something different is being communicated. I wouldn't want to say that only the first group takes the painting and that the people last group Nessus the point I think we have to assume are we have to propose instead of the idea that maybe a work of art is particularly a sex symbol as to meaning and it can you know it can retain its identity and form and still have the levels of contact with people. Another way to communicate to have several different messages depending upon the individual with who is who is viewing it. Yes and there's and there's not even any guarantee that it's actually communicating what the artist wished to communicate in the first place is there. Well you see I mean a painting is really not like a conveyor belt. I mean the conveyor belt theory of information is that the artist puts his feelings in a painting
you know sends it along to the viewer who takes the feelings out of the paintings and shares me himself. That was a nice symmetrical theory but there's no particular assurance that an artist can expect to find his intentions absolutely matched by the onlooker. After all the artist has painted the picture and the onlooker hasn't so there's a gulf between them to start with. And I think that's always the disparity between you know the artist's understanding of his picture and its public perception. And it's can you know whether one of the criteria to which we based our last discussion has said definition of communication was that it had to embody mutually meaningful symbols between the communicator of the person receiving the communication. It may well be that a symbol would mean one thing to the painter and something else to the viewer but the viewer might nevertheless take a take a like an interest in the art and that actually there's been no real communication between the artist and maybe the
buyer or the critic at all. You can't insist too much on literal communication when you actually have. When I work of art.. Movies out of this intimate circle is that it sets up what we can only call resonances because we can't really define it much closer than that in the beholder. The visitor to the gallery the or the dealer. The friends who move in other worlds who might be invited to a party at the collector say to look at his latest acquisition. The residences are set up which can either be friendly or hostile and I would say even this hostile reaction is a communication of sorts at least it's a disturbance it's a beginning of something very positive reaction in itself. Love or hate or whatever.
So using a neutral word like resonances is probably a good idea but it too is definitely communication. Well I guess I mean we've got we've got then to change our definition of communication. I'm thinking in terms of the very popular picture magazines which really run stories on contemporary art and with the full color illustrations and the people who sort of enjoy ridiculing this particular piece everybody seeing it a little further should the topic of conversation but not but not and one of laudatory a lot of Tory nature would rather of a ridiculing nature and you would say that even this ridicule was it was a form of communication very definite response. Yes well I would think it would provide it in terms of the communication process feedback that is to be to to the editors of the magazine ultimately back to the painter. But feedback is only is only important when it affects the work of the painter and self when it when it affects the further
communications of the person who's receiving the feedback. That may be but to simplify to simplify as I speak with you I could watch your facial reactions and I can understand and I can view whether or not you're paying attention or whether what I'm saying makes sense whether you were chuckling at me and this is the act of seeing this provides feedback which in turn makes me change my next sentence or makes me change my approach. Now if we consider communication as as a communication serious do a circular process. Does the artist respond to feedback. And at what levels does he respond to feedback as you respond to the critic does he respond to his friends does he respond to any of the great public which may or boredom with a horse laugh. CORSI responds to all of these. It might even cause him to stop producing art. And this is possible.
Especially if it doesn't yield him some kind of living. Lawrence do you. Can you cite any examples. Well I'd like to go back before really answering or to it. I accept your definition of communication as a mutually agreed forms as a shared sign system. I agree without this. We need to. We cannot expect communication to exist. But I don't think the cases of misunderstanding or rejection that you have mentioned take us outside the limits of that kind of communication you're making communication sound like agreement 100 percent endorsement total acceptance and approbation. You are no where as as you know the reaction of of of the viewers and listeners is much more subject to personal preference and change than that.
So I think that I don't think that an audience any audience can expect to have a one to one relationship with the artist but nevertheless if they can recognize that what they're looking at is a case of art and if they have some prior experience of what art is and of what other examples of art have been then they're in a position it seems to me to be they are in they are in a communicative relationship with the work of art. Of varying degrees of intimacy with the artists and initial intentions as to feedback I think it used to be a lot of feedback from the society to the artist but that was in the days when society paid for the artist's work or wanted it done and paid for it when it was done. Nowadays there's not much patronage as I think we've mentioned before the artist tends to do the
work and then the work has to find its audience so that the artist is much less interested in much less sensitive to feedback from the public than previously when he was directly dependent upon the public for a living. It almost works in reverse. An artist who wins an audience too quickly or an undiscriminating large audiences is suspect and he and I enjoy that an equivocal position which and why it at present occupies us. Well I was trying to think of an example of a particular piece of art with which I've had experience and which I viewed it in different ways at different stages of my growth. I think of the cost as where they go which is that picture of the. The storage of plunging horses and the bomb city where nikka
which at first Drew is a monumental ugliness. The figures are ugly coat the colors of cells are jarring the person facing it for the first time without any previous introduction say to the guys or to the work of the period I think by and large probably reacted in the fashion similar to me but as I began to find out a little bit about the Spanish Civil War I began to realize that what I saw was actually what the council wanted me to see. He wanted me to see the ugliness and the horror. And this was his means of forming this communication so although I have viewed the picture negatively at first I would get to be able to find the communication in it as I grow myself as a as a person. Now that's just I'm back with home too.
With whom is the artist trying to communicate. Does he ever try to communicate with the with the completely unsophisticated person. When your child doesn't try to reach a specific audience anymore it seems to me he throws his bread on the water and hopes that it's going to come back Kate. But who. He doesn't have a patron who is going to reject the work if he doesn't like it. The last of these are probably the older Rockefeller and the famous instance of the mural at Rockefeller Center who rejected the whole thing because it contained what he considered a communist propaganda and so on. But this kind of situation is now very rare. The artist really has no idea who his audience might be. Once the work has left his studio is but the possible sort of generalized that well there's a definite I'll be mixing up to death and
forms of communication. There's a difference between beam and communication and diffused communications like we are engaged in a situation of diffuse communication that say from the radio station. How many are like I don't know anything less and some people take it up some people want. Who knows what they're going to be on the other hand beamed form of communication. It's like a telephone when I dial that oh like a pigeon when I've given it its message and send it off to the place it's trained to go to and I feel a little bit there. I think that you're expecting a form of communication which is essentially a diffuse form of information. I do act as if it were a form of well it's well able and Mass Communication Lawrence were aware that we're not even going to communicate with everybody that happens to people in the Senate. We still we still are aware that we have to operate with adults. We
make up our minds roughly who it is we want to talk to and then try to work to work our work out our content our language our approach in terms that will be meaningful to this specific audience there's no great single mass audience. There are many audiences and I think the same thing in my opinion at least the same thing is true with art that you that you that the artist when he said all that every artist has ADD audience and he and these audiences may overlap. Yeah you're quite right. There is actually an audience which is perhaps not conscious of itself as an audience except that it knows it is receptive to the new. It is willing to listen to the critics to read them. It is willing to take courses. It keeps open fluid to all kinds of other new things that are that seem to be in the air. This is a
very important audience even though it is diffuse and undefined which the the artist may hope to address even though he he may not hope that they'll have enough money to buy his pictures for instance. Well if they artist is himself in a continuum that means he is drawing all the art that is God before him and is going to contribute to the art that follows after him. It's seems to me that these audiences too are at a sort of continuum. Let's let's take the case of Lawrence who is very fond of them forms of art not just to contemporary art. He is a member of several art audiences. He said the experience of them all and finds value in all these these various periods of art is a part is it necessary. I mean now I'm rather making a statement I decided I ask the question
is it necessary in order to appreciate contemporary art to be to be a member of the audience of contemporary art to have gone through the experience of finding out what art is all about by looking at the previous stuff. It's happening automatically I think to the younger generations in the United States. I think that you know an appreciation of art and an estimate of the value of things cultural in American folklore used to be like the woman who did it and she forced her Corrado husband to some recognition you know but yes there might be some virtue and down you know I never did and would bring prestige and so forth. It's now got to the point that sigh and some cases I think there's been cases where men who have overtaken the women as cultural leaders within the family. And there's also the fact I think that owing to
the universe education on such a such a big scale today I think that we really do have now for the first time and it doesn't exist anywhere else in the world it doesn't exist in Europe. I pretty well educated audience and a part of that education includes a sort of climate of ascent towards a fact of modern. They may not all to see a way that certain check all the time to see exactly what's happening in every studio in New York but as such might not as such is no longer I think an alien experience any longer. I really think I'm right in the middle of that and something which you know maybe younger generations feel. Well I I'm not sure that we that the distinction could be made about you what the distinctions are but I surely know of many people who have absolutely no use for contemporary art as well as also the others who do like it and many like myself who sort of fall in between and are quite sure that
what is the difference. Well what were we for the difference in these people. In other words we're still trying to pin down withhold does the artist particular the contemporary artist communicate who is this person. It's your person who might go through all kinds of stages himself of growth anew and change as he responds to his environment as he enters a new circle. As you read something important as he keeps in step. Not only with his own generation but that of a younger one someone who is open to life and he can develop and change in in tune with the times and with the art which is being produced. There's nothing static about this audience. You individually or taken collectively it will be interesting sometimes to take a group of children and expose them to various the arts of various periods and find out which ones appeal to the most of
the what basis they form their judgments. They do the same sort of thing where you couldn't you couldn't do it with adults because it also already have heard. If I had preconceived notions which did offer them it was contemporary art really a very sophisticated for. Or or is it something that is as basic as fight a battle. Terms of Rob feel the color and shape and form. Also wouldn't you say. I don't think there's much doubt but what I want is a pretty sophisticated activity. I mean exactly I mean sense whereas I think I says a generation. It's you know the other there are other values that rank higher in terms of survival and biological survival than test no survival but I think I would be like I want to want one of the most valuable lectures I want one of the top lecturers and one of the
lecturers which you know next one enjoy that living on the earth you know. But I do think it's a sad state said status is basically a luxury and that of course cuts it off from the larger of us of people right on the contrary it is one thing that everybody wants it's luxury I mean you know you know what a truck driver truck drivers don't like drive all night and put up a dozen all shacks you know have motels have their own swimming pools and stuff you know like everybody is upgrading themselves as fast as they can. Everyone believes in the value of luxury and I think it's precisely for this great sort of hedonistic that a great a great hedonism which comes with affluence and industrialism that the luxury of a first time becomes a real possibility not just a few people and not just an add on. This is what I thought of consumer goods that you've been speaking to us all what you need
leisure to consume and I don't mean to produce it but it's the consumption of that you've got to have leisure and if you're going to have a lot of people consuming and there has to be you know a fairly short waiting there for a lot of people well even Sears and Roebuck sells original hard works and it's a movie actor who is acting as a consultant that selects original pieces and you can buy them on the mass market this way this is a new development or minsan priced for the best price yes. But I've got against that as it's an awfully inefficient way to get a good picture. And as much as you know it's kind of bulk buying. Well I think the point and then it's scattered between various centers that lessens your chance of getting something especially good but you might get but I think that this is a key ingredient when you're trying to. Distributed art to that to the broad masses who left and who may not be able to
distinguish between a good and bad piece of art but it will be willing to accept Benson's prices and prices word for it that it is and they can hang it on their wall with some assurance in their old minds that they've got something of value. I think I can hear is with the price rather than with the purchaser. Until until the purchaser himself has a chance to view would live with that piece for a while. Yeah well it's like we said we started saying that God is a fairly sophisticated activity and if your interest in art depends on Cicero bark you're not yet at that point of sophistication where you're going to get some of the pleasures and the intellectual the lights which painting can do if you're you're just going to get status symbols of sentimental images so that we come back to the point that the consumer the person with whom the artist communicates is does a lot can be described in the certain sense.
One of some education generally has the money he has had by and large probably more experience of the world and then than his less fortunate brother we can begin to give form to this person with whom the artist communicates you want to add anything else to this. Yes he might well be this this or this consume he might be a member of the Mustang generation. What else would you add to the Pepsi generation. No Pepsi doesn't collecting it but I guess it is very difficult to just say if you're from Mustang generations or so it may be very very difficult to judge the IGS precise reasons to which anyone might buy a piece of art some people buy or buy it as a status symbol. Other people choose pieces which just simply heals them and others may find even other reasons the problem of communication and hard it strikes me is as tenuous is that language. It's
remarkable how well we can communicate. Considering the slender bridge of words with which we attempt this phenomenon. I can't shake the feeling that you think there's a person who you know has got a telephone and a pigeon hatch on his roof who gets exact messages. And you don't have one of the things you get from odd is a tremendously exact reaction perception of a reaction to an individual work of art. When you see it but you only get it if you are predisposed towards the experience of that particular class of cultural artifact. If you see what I mean like you've got to you've got to have the knowledge and you have to assent to the existence of art. And it said some of its demanding forms
to get the most out of any particular cases of it which you come across. And that's we're going to have to leave our question with Oh does the artist communicate next week. Our question is what is the role of craftsmanship in art today. A question of art featuring art critic Lawrence Callaway and professor of fine arts Gary Hart Magnus is produced and transcribed by the SEIU Radio Network. This is Steve Betters speaking join us again next week for another question. This is the SEIU Broadcasting Service. This program was
distributed by the national educational radio network.
A question of art
With Whom Does the Artist Communica
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WSIU 8 (Television station : Carbondale, Ill.)
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Producing Organization: WSIU 8 (Television station : Carbondale, Ill.)
Producing Organization: Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-16-5 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
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