Thursday, June 13, 2013

A great blog post by Judith Schaechter on "de-skilling" in the Art World, and the importance of heart, head, and hands working together.

"Does it really matter who’s hands did what? Isn’t that just an issue of branding? Well, something gets left out with an artist who farms out the labor.  You don’t miss that something if you never saw it in the first place but if it is there?  Wow.  It’s irreplaceable. A piece cannot be informed by its own creation if the artists is awaiting the goods in some separate room making design decisions as a matter of management.  Lino isn’t just having ideas and then making them.  He’s having the ideas while he’s making them.  He’s allowing the process to be a major factor in his inspiration, and he is inventing and innovating as he goes.... Lino is excited about trying things that are really hard for the very reason that they are a challenge and they lead him brand new places conceptually. His work is inspired directly by process and the outcome is directly informed by it. Every phase he goes through responds to his prior level and outdoes it. Lino can top himself by creating a dialectic between process and concept that has forward momentum.  That cannot happen with Dale’s work and for this reason its possible to make “Chihulys” but not “Linos”.  You can only re-create an existing Lino or Lino’s last season look." 

“There is a giant cloisonné lion at the Penn Museum in Philly. If you know anything about cloisonné, the first thing that will strike you is that cloisonné is a technique used mainly for small; precious objects and this lion is honking ginormous. It must have taken forever to make it and it was a forever full of aching fingers and doubt! Ages and ages of thinking “I simply cannot go on, there has to be an easier way! Why…why, for god’s sakes why would anyone bother to DO THIS?  Especially since nine out of ten times the viewer is too ignorant to appreciate the effort it took?  Why is adequate never good enough in the arts

Why spend eons on something like that lion?  Because this lion isn’t there to solely to please the public.  It isn’t there only to flatter some rich guy. No, regardless of whatever the artist claimed they intended, the lion exists as a gift—a gift to honor “god” and humanity.  Its not a gift like a waffle iron; the point of this type of gift is to prove we can “get it together” even in times when we are otherwise occupied with life.  It is to demonstrate that, even when the chips are down, we can go beyond our personal interests and risk hardship just to be generous. The point is to make a sacrifice in the name of love.

Ah sacrifice!  What a word… implies devotion, piety, worship and loss.  Sacrifice is at the very crux of what makes art beautiful, meaningful, poignant and worthy. Without sacrifice, art is superficial, glib and kitschy. And, yet, sacrifice, because it is hard, demanding, costly, against the dominant paradigm, impractical in all strata of life, entirely not what is expected or required of citizens and generally not fun, is exactly what is in grave peril in art these days. And while one can simplify the task by merely making images of sacrifice, or talking about sacrifice, it is far better to enact it and to embody it.  And what better way than by devoting your blood, sweat and tears to a cloisonné lion?  What better way indeed.  It’s positively radical. 

We don’t see it, because we are not looking, but it happens all the time. Sacrifice for its own sake is under-rated as the generator underlying conception. To make something deliberately difficult and with passion and reverence towards process reveals the true nature of creativity. We create for one reason only: because we love it so much we can't bear to live without it. And when one feels like that you do the very best job of it you can.  To do it the easy way would be to miss the point entirely."

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