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What the devil are artists up to I would pay to see it where it says Nangle worm one and ask me artists are just too lazy to learn how to paint. But many are common Well such observations have led us to try to reduce the confusion surrounding contemporary art as we ask a question of art. Hard each week at this time a question about contemporary art will be discussed by an art critic a scholar a skeptic. It was a skeptic producer of the series Walt Richter. Do introduce the panelists and discussing this the last program of our series with time to panelists. We had a question which we thought more or less would have compassed what we want to do which is to review to a certain extent some of the things we said in the try to end the series
the question. I think you'll be surprised as is the audiences are becoming too large and as usual of course. Lawrence Alloway art critic. Back to our Magnus professor of fine arts are our two panelists a month's let's throw the question out first of all to our critic Lawrence out of the way. One of the one of one of the kinds of people that lie about the size of the audience is the artist. I know a number of artists who booed as they get more successful and as reproductions I whack that distributed more widely. They have a fear that misapprehension and misunderstanding of every act may increase as it goes to suddenly. Too many people. Whereas if their work is shown in a gallery then they are assured of a certain kind of training gallery who are accustomed to
it when they're suddenly getting hella blocks and TIME magazine say. Then they think Am I being exposed in a situation in which my work mis interpreted. In other words the target audience itself is a lot we were not talking about people who like art but just people who are exposed to it and who react to it. This is this is what the artist hears you're right. Well we talked about the character of this audience and we agreed that it's been enormously extended since the day when one had to be physically present with a work of art was which might be very difficult to reach Actually if it were in the home of a collector or a patron. To the present moment when reproductions of art reaches into every magazine every mass medium Corso art is no longer for the elite in
that sense. But if we ask well who is it really digging it. And then of course the number may be actually very very small. But there's no question about it where we're talking about the cultural explosion today with many misgivings. Art music is reaching a tremendous audience but just how selective is it. Well as as in any communications medium we did agree early in the series that art was a form of communication. It's not an audience there is not an audience of art today but there are many audiences. Are there other people who prefer one kind of art. There are other people whose background would put them in an audience for for a specific artist and so forth. But they but with. Mass education the work being done at the college and university campuses in
the humanities courses introduced in the high school more and more people fancy themselves as appreciators eyes as audiences active audiences people upon whom the art as of the fact ever before and I think it's true and it's it's an extended audience I think it's about time is the one that the artist considers may be misinterpreting his art in a way and but as I said as if the art is going to be impaired by mis meaning. Nevertheless I think that the benefits of the. Mass distribution of odds whether it's in magazine form or in exhibitions. Indeed in form of education which we'll get more of the benefits I think are absolutely enormous because I think that it's taken odd out of the immediate province of that heat
and put it onto a base basis where any member of the public who needs it has a taste for it who can use it can have access access to it. I think of it as a risk I think because it is so out in the open because it's so widely distributed then anybody can say about any new agin you expend any experimental od anyone whether they're qualified to unknot feels they have a right to say so. So what's a show me is that what is and what's in it you know and I think that was kind of aggressive approach to OD has increased because of the greater distribution of money. Why the country I GET IT people to ask questions this would then indicate that they were willing to work so that they're looking for answers that they are becoming more and more involved and more closely reaching the person we describe sort of as the ideal consumer of yes.
The thought occurred to me that in spite of this enormous hunger for culture which I sometimes think must be equated with the search for easy answers especially in this field where personal taste and reaction is involved. People want instant satisfaction of one kind or another and they're not much interested in in art which is problematic and difficult. But I'm glad I was there anyway to the extent of knocking me saying you know by what right you call these scrawlings Are we agreed that this too was a legitimate reaction. Whatever may happen next complete rejection or some kind of a nagging doubt which might lead to further curiosity and so on. But I know there's another thing about mass exposure to art which worries me that it may lead to a kind of insensitivity to art.
This enormous exposure which we have really is captive audience where we turn our eyes to images of all kinds. That this does not foster discrimination but rather a lack of it that we become insensitive and didn't do it. And I wonder I wonder I mean whether it whether this is so scary because as of as we become sated with one sort of experience as human beings we're always going to look for new experiences whether or this doesn't really open up open societies a whole lot to greater appreciation for the artist who was searching was looking. What do you think of arms. Yes I don't really see why he is you know the explosion. Which we're all surrounded by all part of I don't really see why this should lead to one thing. As you well know and so forth. I mean I always thought that the way to learn French. Don't live in fun. Saw the letter by the way by the way to
see is to be surrounded by as you imagery. Why one of the great pleasures is matter of fact not only about this country but especially about this country but about I guess the world generally you know and the second half of the 20th century it is our culture has become much more visible and generally much less purely verbal than it used to be and that isn't some of this mass communications and all of this or etc. etc.. Billboard cheer up the country and so on you know I think that this is your visceral imagery that I think has got to be really an accepted part of life now. And this can only lead to shop discrimination between one kind of this organization and another I'm not blunting I'm saying well you couldn't mention once I go where I finally will absolutely part company with you where that is you seem to be in favor of
billboards in the countryside. Yes and I think that if Jerry would pick it up. I don't like them very much I must confess. But of course I find myself looking at them what I would I suppose I resent is the is the message rather than the medium. Well I well I resent billboards because of what they cover up that the Course is a lot of lot of money on this country especially as you're driving along. You know I must have billboards knowingly I don't read that letter I want to know I want to make a point and I think I could do that billboards. You know we talked about all the good and bad standards. I want to kind of we have the point that I think there are these standards and we all make them presently for ourselves. But they have to be applied to the areas within which they are relevant. And you don't look at a billboard the way you would look at a bonnet Newman or Rembrandt or something except accepting that perhaps our billboards have changed somewhat.
Over the past 30 or 40 years since art more and more people have been absorbing art and been influenced by it the billboards themselves the designs and so forth are becoming in some instances more modernistic more expressive. We've certainly seen a revolution for example and radio and television commercials and the more sophisticated sort of approach to things. The involvement of of these purely commercial pursuits with some sort of aesthetic ascetic values. It's true that the billboards I like best of the ones with the biggest cause and the most realistic of these of the billboards which I've you know which I really admire and which really seem to me to look monumental at them against a country. But again the general question I wanted to make was I think because of all these images all around is one has a constant interplay between God and nature. People sometimes suspect that people don't like my God or contemporary I'd suspect is living in an ivory tower.
And yet if one looks around one has nothing but evidence of the connections between modern and contemporary art and the environment we're living in. And for instance like the mention of the day the Mondrian dresses Mondrian patterned dresses with Jack girls are wearing and it was kind of I want to I think a lot of people were wearing them in the States just at the time of a big Mondrian exhibition the biggest ever arranged as matter of fact so his dates straight had been put on by not historian. And I thought it was so nice the pretty girls in the streets and the Mondrian. And I'm not historian publishes his researches about Mondrian but sets the dates right finally. I love the you know the doubling up of those two events. Well I've got some more questions about the billboards but I think we better leave those of grace we don't have some time that we need to kill at the end of the program. But you're trying to say is though that with the girls wearing the mound around dresses that the contempt for contemporary art the modern art is
increasingly saturating our life in many other ways affecting the kinds of clothes we wear. The design of automobiles today. That that there is an extension and that this extension as a result of the implication at least is that this extension as a result of the fact that the audience do contemporary art as ever widening is ever growing and they sort of feed on each other in a cyclical way. Then we turn to the billboard if you must if I must. Well I was thinking again as Lawrence was talking off of pop art and how interesting it is that part of the billboards have played in suggesting images for a good deal of pop art. Would you say Lawrence that with these images taken out of their natural so we say Highway context and put into a gallery that they would foster
appreciation of the billboard on the other hand and let's say reconcile the man who who doesn't like to be bombarded with the with a message at least to the art and to the fact that these billboards are in many cases very and appropriately placed where they can get the most attention or detract attention from the scenery. I mean appropriately place to build God would be one place where it would get a lot of attention. That would be appropriate placing. But no I didn't mean unless there was a beautiful view. Well the billboard gets in the way let's say your question was I mean like a point you're making and just before that was about what pump hot lead one back to the neutralization of steel but I think what it is is that there is a general increase in awareness of the Vizio and
spatial possibilities of our environment today. Pop art is one evidence of this and the fact that somebody who claims to be an art critic can also claim to be taking seriously billboards suggests the same things going on that there is a kind of and fire and mental awareness which may override differences in medium between painting a billboard in one item and another item we're going to look at things in a new way. And one of the early programs an item that never fails to reach her to me as we go through these programs was the case of the bottle rocket which was pulled out of a junk heap and set on a pedestal in a museum and signed by an artist to proclaim the work of art not out of the junk heap it was purchased new from our what we call an England and I'm I got what you call it here you know part of their hard work harvest ageist and it was just one of many
such items that had been produced with this art this artist had was able to see it in a new perspective and put it in the position where other people would see it and your perspective. And that seems to me that what you've been saying Gerri to to a certain extent is the fact that our new art has taught us to look at things in a new way to the point where you'll be our critic can take a look at a billboard and make a value judgement on it in terms of us being off or not. Although you might be like the man with the with the bottle drive. I'm not sure. The kind of attitude behind the the argument I have been advancing here are assumptions about nature and what is made by man. Nature is good beautiful perfect truth and everything man made is somehow an excrescence on the face of the earth.
This of course is a very romantic attitude and the extension of it in this case of course would be that anything that has to do with littering the landscape or placing billboards with their message about by this or that particular product or. Advertising something manmade must therefore inevitably be bad. We have to be shaken out of this I think but I can't help feeling a certain amount of regret at this spoil ation of of nature. In other words I was just in my attitude of all of these old assumptions. Well let's go back to that if there's a place for everything and everything has a place that in some places billboard that last might like would simply not be in the right surroundings. After all the bottles like that have to be taken out of the hardware store and put into a
museum and there are several boards that I had Marchment Asli but I'm not sure I'd like to see them out and the open country. And it's the same I mean we can look at architecture and say that this house simply doesn't belong in that particular surroundings that somehow we've we do look we don't look for some sort of harmony between art and nature that is in terms of our placing or placing of art. Well I think Harmony just means familiarity if it's been there long enough it becomes harmonious with the landscape and if it's been put there recently I does not see him as a landscape lesson I feel it's the principle that we talked about before when we would be defending the rights of the extended audience he said like the artist himself and his friends. It had a particular precious value and then I was an audience of lovers and then a wide audience and so on out. But all of these people who
saw on artwork what each have their legitimate reaction although it differed one from another. But I feel the same way about the billboard. I mean you see I I don't I often enjoy thoughts about bothering to notice what that the Thai's thing I mean into the image but not the product. I really I mean I'm viewing them in terms of the infile and ascetics something environment not in times of you know promotion of a lot of other services in other words you are what you're doing is making a pitch for people to take a look at the world around them. You know that what is readily available that we don't necessarily even have to go to the museum or to the art gallery or know an artist or have a painting hanging in our living room. But that if we if we learn to look at the world we can find things of value where we
least expected them. And that this is this is a kind of this is a kind of thing that the contemporary artist is very much aware of. That's right you know because a generous example of nature on me that I think between nature and the man made a host of other. Steps as well and this would include all kinds of sign making including advertising which a man made but not necessarily solid all man made but not necessarily lodge and so forth and I think this whole area of manmade goods is something which has reached a point of great richness and diversity now. I'm going to pump out a kind of opened all eyes to let me make sure you're not implying that you like all signs are billboards. I don't get I said I wanted that I was using a billboard to reaffirm the fact I think a good and bad billboards isn't this art kind of cannibalizing art
in the sense that when I say drifted down from Who's through human agency let's say students who have gone to school in professional schools and learned advertising design and are full of the old masters from their art history courses or the modern masters. And they have applied to their insights very exciting lead to creating a new kind of highway art. Let's say. Now these objects are looked at in turn by by other eyes. And they have become an inspiration for still another kind of fine art. It is as though a whole circle were being completed. I don't suppose there's anything wrong in this but it bothers me. Well all you're saying is that the artist feeds other society in which he exists aren't you. That is he he looks he looks at the society around him
and then creating his work. And this is not just using me which works which in turn reacts and does other things with it which gives the artist new things to go to work with. These images have gone through a cycle simply end up being used again and we are forced to look at them again now as something manmade. Something that exists in terms of these popular media. Well the answer to our question I think was given at the beginning of the program is the audience of are becoming too large and it seems to me that both Jerry and Lawrence agree that it is not that it's a good thing that more and more people are becoming aware of art and I don't want you acting to it but I don't want to we don't want to raise the question because a lot of traditionally minded critics and I talk about often and so modest do tend to be protective about the how widely on should be distributed. I for one wanted to from my opposition to that and I think the big audience
is as important. And do you think and let's not say why exactly you think it's important because if you remember that diagram we had earlier along with just the middle of the series you know circles I think the extension of the circles adds to the possible meanings attached to the work of God without harming any of the meanings of the artist put into it. I feel like I'm looking of what I thought. Misunderstand that I have not damaged the work of God. It's nondestructive misunderstanding. What about survives for somebody else to look at and be understood. Is this feeling of yours related money with a sort of a notion of social uplift that Bye-Bye expects. No I do know is that when I'm driving I know it's not a it's not an uplift thing I just think education is now just the point at which we have and a position to have a greater sensitivity to all aspects of environment wex of odd and other aspects of a man made environment and it's much more of an increase
in our power to make connections. Like see connections between billboards causin pictures and us in this way creating a more alive more aware man eye for the signs up raising raising the level of the standards of mankind. Yes it's like living in a bit what I mean I heard it rather than on a small tear and now there's another question. Is the is the audience of art actually becoming larger or does it just seem to be larger because there are a heck of a lot more people are hearing what I think is actually becoming larger I think it has grown in a far greater ratio to the general population increase and it is not the elite audiences of past generations would have had due to the total population at that time. I don't think there's any doubt about this as it's not perhaps also a result of greater affluence on the part of our society not so much affluence perhaps as mobility.
You can get around boy you see more. And in turn the artist bribes through a billboard or through any mass media for that matter can get to where people are. And at moments when they have time to look they can reach right into their homes whereas before someone interested in art might not be able to make a trip or afford the time to get to a museum. It's true and in the past if an artist did say get from England in the 17th or 18th century to Europe it was very difficult but he might make it but he probably had to go once I having found it and done his studies back he came that was mandatory end of the Italian period say. Whereas now the artist not he and we are in constant contact with the West. Many artist but the artist himself is in constant contact with other artists are not wax but
also I think with modern audiences as you said water isn't just one audience been many and I think us increase has at me and has put in as many that we can have access to my art and the artist has access to more audiences. Jerry. Perhaps what we've been saying here is at a time when the the audience has become in a sense both more elite and more extensive and exists on a multitude of levels. Each one representing perhaps various degrees of appreciation and insight that the message that modern art leaves with us if it has a message at all is that we must stay open. We must stay loose. We must be as aware as possible of everything that's going on and not rush to judgment
not to close our eyes and even though it it hurts and it does very often because we we react. We like to react strongly. They can temper our distant planet gyrus everyone. Yes and to be willing even to suffer that and come back for more. I think this is terribly important. Now this is a this is a plea to the closed minded person who simply denounces. Contemporary art is the term which I use repeatedly and which was very kindly accepted by Lawrence the daubing. Yes it's also I guess a plea for the other people who consider they are already knowledgeable and staff and know what the scene is it's also a plea to them perhaps to look at the billboards again. Gentleman thank you very much for the last 13 weeks. We've been answering or trying to answer questions about modern art about contemporary art and his brain has been fortunate at least for the peace and tranquility in
our studio that we had no real opponents. But you were the listener at least I've had a chance to find out how and why those people who favor contemporary art do so or. A question of art featuring art critic Lawrence Alloway and professor of fine
A question of art
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WSIU 8 (Television station : Carbondale, Ill.)
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
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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: 68-16-13 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
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