A Rant About Elitist Art

Last night I caught an episode of Work of Art: The Next Great Artist. It came as no surprise to me that I found the show laughable. I knew that it would probably be about elitist art and I was correct. One of the “mentors” is an art auctioneer who’s entire livelihood is based on selling investment art, therefore, elitist art. This particular episode was about “shock art” and sending a shocking message to the viewer. So BIG SURPRISE a lot of nudity, genitalia and bodily fluids were involved. Sorry I don’t think the majority of people want to view your excrement as a public statement on how you feel about a subject.

This show is about everything I hate about certain aspects of the art world. I hate that critics, auctioneers, curators and some artists feel the need to make art elitist, snobby, and pretentious. For centuries art was only for the aristocracy, the wealthy, or the churches. The majority of people never saw a work of art, and definitely never owned a piece of art. It has only been in the last 100 years or so that owning art has been practical or affordable for the masses.

This modern idea that art needs to have a message is just BS. I cannot stand the idea that in order to be a great artist you need to be sending a message to the masses. Really? I don’t think so. I somehow doubt that as Michelangelo was laying on his back painting the Sistine Chapel thinking “I hope that the Pope understands that I am not painting the creation of Adam, but am expressing the my disdain for the concept of the original sin.” No he was probably thinking “I’m a damn sculptor, being forced to paint for that @#$% pope, and I’m not getting paid enough. Oh and my back hurts!”

I don’t create art in order to send a message. I know I will never hang in a museum. I’m sure if critics got a hold of my work they would have a field day with adjectives to describe how banal, boring and insignificant my art is. But do I care? NO. I create because I need to. I sell art hoping that the buyer will enjoy it. I don’t want my work to be sold as an investment. It should be enjoyed, not stored away for potential reselling value.

I buy original art for the same reason. I enjoy it, it makes me smile. I don’t need to get a “message” from it. I don’t need to feel superior knowing I own a piece of “important” work. Who is important to? Me or important to the person making the money off of it’s importance?

So the basic message about this rant is… don’t let anyone tell you what art to create or buy. Create what pleases you. Buy what pleases you. If you adore “Dogs Playing Poker”, then go for it. Art should be whatever you want it to be, whether its is appealing, interesting, provocative, whatever.

Art is subjective, don’t let anyone tell you what you should like and not like. If you don’t get it, that’s okay. I personally don’t care that people rave on and on about Picasso and his contribution to the art world, yada yada yada… I don’t particularly like his work, it doesn’t move me. Does that mean I’m uneducated and plebian? No, it means it doesn’t appeal to me, period. And I won’t be buying it (even if I could afford it). Claude Monet? Love his work, I would buy it in a heartbeat, if I could afford it.


One Response to “A Rant About Elitist Art”

  1. Laura Jane Says:

    THANK YOU for this post! This is exactly how I feel. Beautifully said. The elitism makes me want to tear my hair out.

    For me making art is about making something that I enjoy, and hoping that others will enjoy it. I think that this kind of sharing is a beautiful thing.

    Too bad most of the people who control the art world are insecure jerks who don’t have an artistic bone in their bodies. Generalization? Yes. Truth? Mostly. 😉

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