Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Nuno Crespo

Nuno Crespo, in ípsilon, the best 2014

In 2014, there was an insistence on anthological exhibition and a shift of attention in the works for attention on the artist.

Arguably the many levels and this year will be marked by the end of BES and for any consequences that end. In the visual arts the bank's failure brought the end of Avenue 211, one studios and exhibition space with outstanding quality, diversity and where they could watch the remarkable exhibition that hardly find another context to develop.

What prevails is the crisis and in this scenario the question that more recurrently all ask is: how long? And this is not only a question for the recovery of health and dynamism of the art market, but essentially a question by another institutional context in which works, authors and public can relate to a freer way, diverse and risky. And one of the expressions of this lack of risk is the lack of group exhibitions, research, where monographic attention on the authors gives way to the construction of a thought to and from unique works of art.

There are known exceptions in other geographies of art and the world are brought to debate, but in general we are witnessing a shift of attention in the works for attention on the artist and an insistence on anthological exhibition, in affirming the authority of an author, in confirmation of a route.

This is not to diminish the individual authors and the key role that some of them have to get through their works, brighten any time and a generation together with his afflictions and transformations, but it is to note the domain of a typology expository and draw consequences. This is a situation to which all contribute - newspapers and their idea of information, criticism, the directions of museums and art centers and the predominance of the statistical analyzes, their obsession with the public as the main criterion of cultural management and programming etc. - And where predominates the prejudice of success: the exhibition spaces are now places of the success stories of where they are absent experimentation, research, exploratory projects and the risk associated with them.

The first consequence of this transformation is that the art exhibition are today mainly reflects the market dynamics and not expression of the uniqueness of artistic proposals, nor does it materialize lines of thinking about reality, which is questioned, investigates and attempts to change . And often driven by strong financial constraint, it is the market that enables exhibitions, are their agents that through generous sponsorships allow and enable exhibitions, catalogs pay, offer works in return for the promotion and enhancement of certain set of artists. And the exhibits that require more research, more time, greater risks are placed second and forgotten. It is the predominance of the successful artist (where the success criteria are many and varied) and the absence of exposures to think our present condition, i.e. exhibits that without security and without the guarantees of art history, of its established events and away from the main protagonists to risk thinking the paradoxes of everyday life.

In an important text Alison Gingeras, known historian of American art, said a major art magazine, ArtForum, about an artist: as far as thinking about his works, they are immune to all that they say about, because the person who through the mythology about him forged and succeeded, managed to make his works indifferent to any dispute and thereby ensure the history of Olympus a prominent place for all his work. The text of Gingeras is about Jeff Koons, but it serves here as an illustration and symptom of displacement of the attention we have been describing in which the authors put under his shadow his work and thus the eclipse.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Martha Rosler

Martha Rosler, was 20 when the twentieth century came in the 1960s attended the transition from what was left of the modern world and the new contemporary world. Change after change. "If we want some kind of revolution, we have to do manifestations, be out there, to organize ourselves, we devote ourselves." And this is not even activism. It is "citizenship," said to the Portuguese newspaper Público in an interview on the sidelines of the Future Forum in Oporto, where he was guest lecturer.

She began his lecture by explaining that, in the 1940s, when Jackson Pollock was doing his abstract paintings, or the artists or the art public could imagine the intrinsic link between their world and the major international financial flows.

How Pollock worked the screens on the floor, had anything to do with the idea of territory and territorial possession. Indeed, the fact that he give up the perspective - that was what made his painting - binds with the history of land ownership. There is this and the most obvious: the relationship with money, which intensified a lot, because it has become much more visible. Pollock was part of the first generation of artists in the world financial markets had focused in the United States and had become completely hypertrophic. All this and the emergence of celebrity culture weighed much about the abstract expressionists, most of which were part of a culture of bohemian outsider vaguely impoverished.

I think we can say that abstract expressionism was destroyed by his relationship with money and fame. Still say that there is a reason for the transcendence model he proposed can’t legitimately remain in the postwar world: the economy. So we know more [about the relationship between art and money] and the pressure intensified vastly. Everyone who now has something to do with the art world, even at the popular level, realize the connection of this world to the world of finance, especially in the United States. As someone said, we have reached a time when some of the artists are as or richer as their collectors. It's not exactly like that because some of the patrons of art are immeasurably rich, but obviously there are artists who have become extremely rich. The 'financialization' art shot up to the top of the roof [media] that makes the art world. In publications [reference] as the New York Times auctions are so history as [the exhibition] ... It's like professional sports - what you really hear is money, who cost much, who is doing as what the great players got the best contract and how many millions of euros or dollars a year makes.

The art world has become a sort of big annual sprint, the hundred meter hurdles to see who gets the better end quoted market. It is quantification and 'financialization' of anything we considered before being out of the valuation of goods system [whose value depends on the laws of supply and demand] and we now know to be completely inside. This started happening in the last four or five decades. We can’t pretend it is new. But reached an unprecedented point. Let's look at a more popular reference - the movies: nowadays it is thought a movie ticket for their results. If a movie is a ticket success, people did not even bother to mention the fact that whether or not a good movie. Maybe later in the specialized column [in the press], but the big immediate step is always, "No. 1 at the box office."

The painting was an art easel. After it became too big to be on the easel. What Pollock did no one had done before was to make the paint a representation of the landscape but in landscape. And there is a certain irony in the fact that the canvas becomes a territory for action [Action Painting] and this is a good window through which to see the relationship between art and power. The lieutenant’s land can’t set your property without a metric system. Nor can represent the landscape to look real without perspective. Now, the history of painting is the history of the development and the rejection of perspective - because the abstraction is the rejection of perspective, the choice of two-dimensionality, still, ironically, on territory. This is especially ironic in the case of Pollock, because he paints with the canvas on the floor. His canvas is an area where we have come a territory. And even when he, in the end, to put back the canvas vertically [the wall] everyone realizes how there has been reached "meaning" derived from the horizontal. Such as land tenure is the basis of capital accumulation, these paintings also become a principle of capital accumulation. At the time, no one was thinking about it, but I can’t help thinking.

The transcendence model proposed by Abstract Expressionism could not take place in the world and in the post-war economy, because artists depend on the ideas of its patrons. That's why I often speak in the development of the bourgeois public from the late nineteenth century and the theories that link the abstract, symbolism, etc., as a way to escape the issues of realism, which led to the representation of the working classes and militancy of the working class. Of course, the artists did a lot of that, but mainly in the design and engraving. And those who did not turn very well paid for it by its patrons, who actually wanted was to see other images.

The transcendence model corresponds to the fact that the artists show us another world. It was a very important theory. But at the time the center of the art world moves from Paris to New York, in the 1940s... The patronage in the United States never was very interested in intellectual specializations or representation theories, just want things very immediate. As Rockefeller once said about Rothko [Mark's painting] - and I paraphrase, offers a relaxing space to tired businessman. This is perfect! The space of abstraction is a view of another world, without any specifics. But this could not last, because art has become appreciated in a way more massif. When it became a commodity, an expensive commodity, Jackson Pollock appeared in Life magazine cover. Life magazine was practically in every American home! Was in doctors' offices - was everywhere. Defined the image of the world. Before television be in the home of everyone, was there a Life. And in case one day appeared this artist who was dethrone Picasso as the most important artist of the twentieth century. Pollock eventually died drunk in a very short time after car accident and this idea that art is supposed to be about something else, mysterious, transcendent ... It's a little Catholic doctrine, this. I do not know...

The young artists today see themselves as producers of tradable goods. Some project a successful career of about 10 years. It's like the had an idea that was purchased, if reformed and had a happy life somewhere not to do anything that they did not want. This is what many young people think of elite schools, for which they paid a lot of money. They think: make a fortune and disappear overnight.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014


The age of aesthetics inflation is offset, des-hierarchical, and structurally eclectic.

We are in a fragmented culture, Balkanized, where they multiply many different miscegenation, where cohabit the most dissimilar styles, where the cool trends proliferate without order, without temporal regularity, worthless unit. With transaesthetic capitalism triumphs a chaotic profusion of styles in a huge supermarket trends and looks in fashion and design. It's a jarring proliferation, unregulated, featuring contemporary aesthetic field, parallel to economic deregulation, which constitutes the turbo capitalism.

Found in all the great museums of the world works or exhibitions of these contemporary artists in vogue.

According to the World Tourism Organization, has become, with its 900 million international travelers, the world's first industry, representing around 12% of world GDP. Never exhibitions and museums were such frequency records, 8.8 million to the Louvre, 6.5 million for the Palace of Versailles, 3.6 million from the Pompidou Centre in 2011.

The inflationary dynamics not confined to objects, styles and trends but also to classified monuments (in France has 38,000 historical monuments and picturesque villages 300) and art exhibition spaces. First, museums and contemporary art centers: worldwide, the number of museums increases 10% every five years, was in the United States before 1920, 1200 museums and about 8,000 in the early 80. It is said sometimes, by grace, which creates a museum by day in Europe: more than 30,000 museums are now classified in the 27 countries of the European Union. Paris alone has more than 150 museums. The number of museums in France is the subject of debate: in 2003, France Museums Direction declared in 1200 in the category of "museums of France," but beyond this category some guides publish lists ranging from 5000 to 10,000 museums. There is hardly a community that would not have "his" museum, as identity affirmation signal and which is not least as susceptible tourist attraction center to generate visitors and therefore commercial repercussions.

During the 80s, the number of art galleries experienced a great increase and has almost doubled. In 1988, the number of galleries rose pair 848. Many of these galleries have a very short duration, which has caused, and its mortality rate offset by a high birth rate, the number remains relatively stable. The Bill'art guide 2004 edition had 590 galleries of modern and contemporary art and estimated about 6000 places "open to the public with the vocation to present all forms of art." Galleries, in fact, continue to multiply while the art market, leaving the limits of the West, globalizes. At present there are thousands of galleries and art spaces that present in Shanghai, Sao Paulo, Istanbul, Abu Dhabi, thousands of exhibitions and tens of thousands of works of artists, they now are numerous.

Wave that also reveals a proliferation of biennials, exhibitions and international art fairs worldwide. After the Kassel Documenta and the Venice Biennale, we now have over a hundred biennials, which have hundreds and thousands of artists. More than 260 fairs are arranged annually around the world. Asia is already participating on an equal footing: the fair Art Stage Singapore met in 2012, 140 galleries and Hong Kong Art, twice. Which joins the parallel fairs or "off", joining younger galleries, less established and who are less known and less expensive artists. In Paris, in 2009, FIAC had 203 galleries of 210 countries, and even more 4 off fairs and 73 exhibitions. In 2010, Art Basel Miami received 2000 artists, 29 countries and 250 galleries, while a multitude of fairs and parallel events unfolded a little everywhere in the city. Fairs that are organized in network now, and that function as multinational Art: Art Basel, after Basel invested in Miami and Hong Kong, and the English Frieze fair spread to New York. And the process of expansion widened even with VIP Art Fair, the first art fair online that met in 2011, during a week, 130 international galleries presenting 7500 works and 2000 artists.

With the artistic capitalism, the small world of old-art led to the hyper-art, superabundant, proliferating and globalized, where the distinctions between art, business and luxury disappear. Here, the profusion (works and demonstrations) has nothing to do with the waste "damn part", according with Georges Bataille; it shows the new face of artistic capitalism, to adapt effectively to the global proliferation of large fortunes and collectors, investors and other speculators, created a marketing system and dissemination of art internationally.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Four main logic of the artistic capitalism

The general terms that specify the artistic capitalism can be reduced to four main logic:

First, the integration and generalization style order, seduction and emotion in goods for commercial consumption. Artistic capitalism is the economic system that works for the systematic aesthetization of consumer markets, objects and everyday context. Now the aesthetic paradigm is no longer foreign to industrial and commercial activities, but incorporated into these. Results from a mode of production marked by osmosis or symbiosis between the rationalization of the production process and the aesthetic work, financial spirit artistic spirit, accounting logic and logic imagine. In this configuration, the artwork is most often collective, entrusted to teams with a limited creative autonomy, framed by managers and integrated within more or less bureaucratic hierarchical structures. The fact is that it comes to creating beauty and spectacle, excitement and entertainment to conquer markets. In this sense, it is a strategy or a "charming engineering" featuring artistic capitalism.

Second, a generalization of the entrepreneurial dimension of cultural and creative industries. Now, the art worlds, are less and less "world apart" or an "economy in reverse" are governed by the general laws of the company and the market economy, with its imperatives of competition and profitability. With the artistic capitalism triumphs the management of cultural productions. Even museums should be managed as companies, implementing marketing and communication policies, increasing the number of visitors and finding new forms of revenue. In the artistic capitalism works are judged on the basis of their business and financial results, much more than by their proper aesthetic features.

Third, a new economic surface of the groups engaged in the productions provided with an aesthetic component. What was a marginal sphere has become an important sector of economic activity involving huge capital and performing colossal funds business. We are no longer in the time of small art production units but in the mastodon’s culture, transnational giants of creative industries, fashion and luxury, and the globe as a market.

Fourth: the artistic capitalism is the system in which they are destabilized the old artistic and cultural hierarchies, while interpenetrating the artistic, economic and financial spheres. Where worked heterogeneous universes are developed now hybridization processes that mix of a unique aesthetic way and industry, art and marketing, magic and business, design and cool, art and fashion, art and fun.

Monday, December 01, 2014

How to write about contemporary art

Orit Gat is a writer and contributing editor of Rhizome. She lives in New York, USA. Orit Gat article in the frieze magazine, Issue 167, November-December 2014, about Gilda Williams new book on how to write about contemporary art.

Let’s assume there is a crisis in art writing. The past decade saw a number of essays, books, panel discussions and events debating the state of criticism, the death of the critic and the demise of art publishing. So, let’s imagine that crisis: reviews always simply describe what is on view rather than say anything about it; catalogue essays never produce new knowledge, only serve to promote an artist’s market value; and the language of press releases, so often derided as hollow, has taken over. All those roundtables that bring critics back from the dead and onto the podium reflect a growing anxiety over the communicative possibilities of writing.

Gilda Williams worries about all of the above. Call it by any name – her slightly derogatory ‘art-patois’, mystical ‘speaking in tongues’, or plain old ‘artspeak’ – it’s all barely comprehensible to Williams. She sets out to correct this problem in a new book, How to Write About Contemporary Art (published by Thames & Hudson) which is structured to untangle the linguistic mess we have supposedly got ourselves into. In countless bullet points, she describes the field, its key players and its particular penchants (citing, amongst other things, a number of frieze articles), and then moves on to discuss style, the work of pitching and the different forms of writing in the contemporary-art context. Williams’s methodology is flawless. She brings in some 50 examples of texts, ranging from exhibition reviews to snippets of catalogue essays and artist statements, and attentively analyzes them. She highlights the use of active verbs, points out specific nouns, deconstructs complex grammatical structures and, all in all, seems to read these samples more closely than anyone has done before. In confident style – ‘Unless discussing a certain shark floating in a tank, or that porcelain bathroom fixture signed “R. Mutt”, never assume your reader remembers or has seen the art’ – Williams stresses that the essential approach to writing about art should be to answer three questions, easily summed up: (1) What is it? (2) What might this mean? and (3) So what? This formula is meant to answer what Williams sees as the inherent paradox of writing about art – ‘stabilizing art through language risks killing what makes art worth writing about in the first place’.

In the world Williams describes, the old-school critic is gone, replaced by a ‘jack of all trades’, but she does not dwell on the origin of this disappearance – the reality of writing about art, which is low pay, freelance hustle and a constant struggle to keep one’s ethics in check – or its consequences. While Williams acknowledges that writers are implicated in some way in the larger art economy, the conclusion she draws is that ‘today’s critics are not as powerful as they once were […] Occupying almost the bottom economic tier of the art-industry pyramid, critics are least affected by cycles of boom and bust. When art bubbles burst, art-writers often have more to write about and nothing special to worry about. As Boris Groys asserts, since nobody reads or invests in art-criticism anyway, its authors can feel liberated to be as frank as they please, writing with few or no strings attached.’ Does a position of power enslave a writer? Not necessarily. In fact, it could give the critic further traction and support his/her role as someone that should – and potentially could – keep the market in check. As for Groys’s assessment that no one reads criticism anymore, the conclusion that should be drawn from it is that what we urgently need right now is not more writing, but more critical writing.

No book could teach a writer to be interesting, opinionated, engaged or passionate. And that isn’t the objective of this one. Its goal is to take a discipline that Williams conceives of as highly unregulated – and professionalize it. In outlining exactly how an auction catalogue differs from a museum’s wall label and a magazine review, down to the vocabulary and tone each should accommodate, Williams gives insight to the inner workings of very different industries: academia, auction houses and mainstream and professional press. With an eye on the rise of numerous academic programmes in art writing, a book on the subject could be seen as a democratizing entity, but the difference between a book and a school is interaction. Even if one recoils at the idea of needing an MFA in art criticism in order to write for a magazine – another instance of an art world in which the terms of participation are a secondary degree, often accompanied by academic debt that few can financially justify – at least those programmes allow students a sense of community. Whether found in a graduate programme or not, it is the participation in discourse and interest in one’s contemporaries that makes someone a critic. Williams’s technique is married to the work of art – let the work lead you – which risks resulting in formulaic art writing that neglects the intellectual context from which the artwork emerges.

Art writing is not an industry in crisis – quite the opposite. Art publishing has developed into a realm complementary to the work, not one that merely describes it. The physical and conceptual expansion of what art can be has also produced a publishing landscape with a positive anything-goes ethos, which we should promote, rather than suffocate. Writing about art has become a space in which good writers can discuss anything, lofty or mundane, from politics to neckties, philosophical trends to internet memes. While Williams claims that art writing needs to be grounded in descriptions of the art – the ‘what’s there’ – I’d argue that this extended field of publishing is what makes for vibrant reading material, whether or not it ever mentions that this or that video installation has two screens and a total running time of 15 minutes. Art writing should be sharp and opinionated, but also sometimes flimsy and erratic. Art writing doesn’t need to be professionalized further – it needs to be granted room to experiment and expand. These more wayward forms of writing create an art world that is more perceptive, where what we read is equal in its intellectual ambition to the work we look at.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Art business

If the hypermodern age of capitalism, which is the world for nearly three decades, is the planetarization and financialisation, deregulation and outgrowth of its operations, is also the one that is marked by another kind of inflation aesthetics inflation. Not only are the megacities, objects, information, financial transactions that are involved in a hyperbolic climbing, but the very aesthetic field. Here are the worlds of art involved in turn in hyper networks, contemporary capitalism that incorporates in large scale the logical of style and dream, seduction and fun in the different sectors of the consumer universe. If there is a bubble, there is another kind of bubble whose extreme inflated do not know, however, not crisis or crash, with the notable exception of the limited field of contemporary art market, the speculative bubble, as we have seen, could explode in different moments, we live the time of the aesthetic boom sustained by hyper capitalism.

With the hypermodern times call up a new aesthetic period, a society over-aestheticized, an empire where the sun of the art never set. The imperatives of style, beauty, the show business gained such importance in consumer markets, turned so the design of objects and services forms of communication, distribution and consumption that it is difficult not to recognize the advent of a true way of aesthetic productions arriving now to maturity. We call this new state of liberal trade economy: capitalism artistic or creative capitalism, transaesthetic.

At the time of financialization of the economy and its social, ecological and human damage, the very idea of an artistic capitalism may seem radically shocking. However, this is the new world face that by blurring the boundaries and the old dichotomies, transforms the relationship of the economy with art as Warhol transformed the relationship of artistic creation with the market, defending an art business. After the modern era of radical disjunctions, we have the hypermodern age of conjunctions, deregulation and hybridizations, where the artistic capitalism is a particularly emblematic figure.

The importance of market logic in the art world is not new, but of course, at the time of globalization, is a new level that is reached, as evidenced particularly the growth of investments of art collectors and the vertiginous increases of the artworks prices. The art appears increasingly as a commodity among others, as a type of investment which is expected high returns. The romantic age of the art gave way to a world where the cost of the works is more important and mediated than the aesthetic value: now is the trade price and the international market which consecrate the artist and the artwork. We are currently in the time of the "art business" which sees the triumph of speculative operations, marketing and communication. If capitalism incorporated the aesthetic dimension, it is increasingly channeled or orchestrated by financial and trade mechanisms. Hence the feeling often shared that the more artistic capitalism reigns, there will be less art and more market will be.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Art for the Market

A fourth phase of aesthetization of the world is established, remodeled in essence, logical marketing and extreme individualization. The modernist culture, dominated by a subversive logic in war against the bourgeois world, follows a new universe in which the vanguards are integrated in the economic order, accepted, wanted, supported by official institutions. With the triumph of artistic capitalism, aesthetic phenomena no longer be returning to the small peripheral worlds and universes built on marginal production, marketing and communication material goods, are huge markets shaped by international economic giants.

At the time aesthetization of consumer markets, capitalism multiplies the artistic styles, trends, shows, places of art, continuously launches new fashions in all sectors and creates large-scale dream, imagination, emotions; artialize the domain of everyday life at the same time that contemporary art, for its part, is committed to a broad desdefinition process. A desdefinition art, however, involves a novel form of aesthetic experience. It is a world of superabundance or aesthetic inflation that combines our eyes: one transaesthetic world, a kind of hiperart where art infiltrates in the industries in all the interstices of trade and ordinary life. The mastery of style and emotion spent the hyper regime: this does not mean perfect and finished beauty, but generalization of aesthetic strategies for commercial purposes in all sectors of consumer industries.

A hiperart also as no longer symbolizes a cosmos or expresses transcendent narratives, it is not the language of a social class, but works as a marketing strategy, valuation distracting, seductive games ever renovated to capture the hedonistic desires of the new consumer and increase the turnover of brands. We are currently in the strategic and commercial state of the aesthetization of the world, in transaesthetic age.

Increasingly, cultural or creative industries operate in hyperbolic mode with movies with huge budgets, creative advertising campaigns, television shows diversified television broadcasting programs that blend the classical and the music-hall, architectures, sculptures of great effects, video clips delirious, gigantic amusement parks, pop concerts with "extreme" scenarios. Nothing escapes the image and fun network and everything is spectacular intersects with the commercial imperative: the artistic capitalism created a fertile transaesthetic empire where they mix design and star system, creation and entertainment, culture and show business, art and communication, and cutting edge fashion. A communication and commercial hyperculture seeing degrade the classical oppositions of the famous "society of spectacle": creative transaesthetic capitalism does not work with the separation, with the division, but with the cross, with the plot of areas and genres. The ancient kingdom of the show disappeared, was replaced by hiperspectacle which consecrates democratic culture and shopping fun. 

Commercial strategies of transaesthetic creative capitalism no longer save any sphere. Common objects are invaded by the style and the look, many of them become fashion accessories. Designers, visual artists, fashion designers are invited to redesign the look of industrial commodities and the temples of consumption. Fashion brands from the general public copy the codes of luxury. Shops, hotels, bars and restaurants invest in your images, the decor, the customization of their spaces. The heritage is rehabilitated and staged in the manner of screenplays. Urban scenarios are retouched, staged, "disneyfied" with the intent of tourism consumption. Advertising wants to be creative and fashion shows seem performances. The Architectures images flourish, value in themselves, by their attraction for its spectacular size and function as promotional vector in competitive markets for cultural tourism.

The terms used to designate the occupations and economic activities also have the mark of aesthetic ambition, gardeners have become landscapers, hairdressers hair designers, florists floral artists, cooks culinary creators, jewelers jewelers artists, tailors artistic directors, car manufacturers “car creators". Frank Gehry is celebrated everywhere as the artist architect. Even some business men are described as "visionary artists" (Steve Jobs). While economic competition are unleashed, capitalism works to build and disseminate an artistic image of his actors to artialize economic activities. The art became a mean of legitimizing brands and companies of capitalism.

The extraordinary extent of transaesthetic logic is also seen in geographical terms. We are in the time of globalized capitalism to impel a stylization of mass consumption that is no longer confined to the West. In the five continents are working creative industries, creating products with style, fashion, entertainment, culture of globalized masses.

But the process of aesthetization hypermodern overflows in much the spheres of production, consumption conquered, aspirations, ways of life, the relationship with the body, the view of the world. The taste for fashion, the performances, the music, tourism, heritage, for cosmetics, for home decor became widespread in all strata of society. The artistic capitalism spurred the realm of the aesthetic towards hyper overabundant consumption of some styles, but more broadly, in the etymological sense of the word, of the Greeks, of sensations and sensitive experiences.

Capitalism has led not so much a process of impoverishment or delinquency of aesthetic existence but the democratization of mass of a homo aestheticus of an unprecedented kind. The transaesthetic individual is reflective, eclectic and nomadic: less conformist and more demanding than in the past, appears at the same time as a consumption "junkie", obsessed with disposable expediency, the easy entertainment.  

At aesthetization of the economic world answers an anesthetization of the ideal life, an aesthetic attitude toward life. Nobody wants to live and to sacrifice for principles and outdoor goods to himself, but if you invent it yourself, create your own rules to a better life, immense, rich in emotions and shows.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Art for the art

The third great historical moment that organizes the relationship between art and society reflects the modern age in the West. Finding its fullness to give birth in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, coincides with the development of a more complex artistic sphere, more differentiated, freeing themselves of the old nobility and religious powers. While the artists gradually emancipated from the tutelage of the Church, the aristocracy, then the bourgeois order, art imposes itself as a system of high degree of autonomy in their own instances of selection and consecration (academies, salons, theaters , museums, dealers, collectors, publishers, critics, magazines), its laws, values, and principles of its own legitimacy. As the field of art becomes autonomous, the artists claim aloud a creative freedom to works that are accountable only to themselves and stop bowing to requests that come from "outside". Social emancipation of artists very concerning to the extent that it is accompanied by a dependency of a new genus, economic dependence on market forces.

But while art itself evidence its proud sovereignty in contempt for money and hatred for the bourgeois world, constitutes "commercial art" that, for profit, for the immediate and temporary success, tends to become an economic world as others to adapt to public demand and to offer products "without risk", the rapid obsolescence. It opposes these two universes of art: its aesthetic, its public, as well as their relationship with the "economy". The modern age is organized in radical opposition between art and business, culture and industry, art and fun, pure and impure, authentic and kitsch, art elite and mass culture, avant-garde and institutions. A system of two antagonistic modes of production, circulation and consecration, which developed essentially within the strict limits of the western world.

This historic social setting brings a general overturn of values, invested art with a higher mission than ever. In the late eighteenth century, Schiller says it's for aesthetic and practical education of the arts that humanity can move towards freedom, to reason and to the Well. And for the German Romantics, the beautiful, the access road to the Absolute, is set, with art, at the summit of the hierarchy of values. The modern age is the framework in which it has made an exceptional sacralization of poetry and art, only known to be able to express the most fundamental truths of life and the world. While following the Kantian criticism, philosophy should renounce the absolute revelation and science should concentrate on enunciating the laws of the phenomenal appearance of things, you assign to art the power to know and contemplate the very essence of the world. Now, art is placed above society, tracing a new secular spiritual power. Not an area designed to give consent, but it reveals the ultimate truths that elude science and philosophy: an access to the Absolute, while a new instrument of salvation. The poet enters into competition with the priest and takes its place with regard to the ultimate revelation being: the secularization of the world was the springboard of modern religious art.

It must be added, however, that the sacralization of art held by the romanticism and symbolism was then fought fiercely for several avant-garde movements such as Constructivism, Dadaism and Surrealism.

Sacralization of art that illustrates so well in the invention and development of the institution of the museums. By extracting the works of their original cultural context, while cutting its traditional and religious use by not limiting them to private use and personal collection, but offering them to the gaze of all, the museum stages its specifically aesthetic value universal and timeless; becomes practical or cultural objects to be admired aesthetic objects, contemplated by themselves, by their beauty that defies time. Place of aesthetic revelation destined to make known unique, irreplaceable, inalienable works, the museum has a responsibility to make them immortal.

While desecrates cultural objects, endows them, on the other hand, an almost religious status, the masterpieces should be isolated, protected, restored, and testimonies of the creative genius of mankind. Worship space devoted to the spiritual elevation of the democratic public, the museum is marked by rites, ceremony, for a certain sacred environment (silence, recollection, contemplation), imposes itself as a secular temple of art.
Sacralization of the museum at the same time sparked the ire of avant-garde currents denouncing the symbolic institution of excellence of ancient art to destroy: "We want to demolish museums, libraries (...). Cemeteries Museums!..." (Filippo Tommaso Marinetti's" Futurist Manifesto "in Le Figaro, 1909).

The art supposedly provides the ecstasy of the infinitely large and the infinitely beautiful, does contemplate perfection, in other words, opens the door to experience the absolute, something beyond the ordinary life. Became the place itself and the ideal way of life once reserved for religion. Nothing is higher, more precious, more sublime than art, which allows, thanks to the splendor that produces, endured the ugliness of the world and the mediocrity of existence. The aesthetics replaced religion and ethics: life is only worth by beauty, many artists argue the necessity of sacrificing material life, politics and family life to the artistic vocation: it is for them to live for art, consecrate their existence to his greatness.

To assert its autonomy modern artists rebel against the conventions, constantly invest in new objects, appropriating itself of all elements of the real for purely aesthetic purposes. Enforces the right of all styling, all transmuted into art, are mediocre, the trivial, the unworthy, the machines, the resulting collages of chance, the urban space of democratic equality was made possible affirmation of equal dignity aesthetics of all subjects, the sovereign freedom of artists to qualify as art everything you create and expose. Given the absolute sovereignty of the artist there is no reality that can’t be transformed into work and aesthetic perceptions. After Apollinaire and Marinetti, the Surrealists launch the motto "Poetry is everywhere." By breaking with all heterogeneous function of art, to assert themselves in transgression of codes and established hierarchies, modern art set in motion a dynamic of aesthetization boundless world, any object could be treated in an aesthetic point of view, be attached, absorbed in the sphere of art only by decision of the artist.

But the ambition of modern artists was far beyond the horizon purely artistic. With the avant-garde born new utopias of art, taking this as the ultimate goal being a vector of transformation of living conditions and mentalities, a political force in the service of the new society and the "new man". As opposed to art for art and symbolism, Breton declares that it is "a mistake to consider art as an end" and Tatline proclaims: "The art is dead! Live art machine "by refusing the autonomy of art, not recognizing any value to the decorative aesthetic "bourgeois", constructivists declare the glory of the technique and the primacy of the material and social values on aesthetic values. The beautiful functional should eliminate the beautiful decorative and utilitarian buildings (homes, clothing, furniture, objects ...) to substitute the ornamental luxury, synonymous with decaying waste. Art should no longer be separated from society and just an enjoyable hobby for the wealthy: the aesthetics of the engineer should be able to reset a "complete design" completeness of the everyday environment of men. No longer the beautification projects of the living, but "the machine to inhabit" (Le Corbusier), responding to the practical needs of men and at minimal cost. The modern era sees well be argued, on the one hand, the "religion" of art, on the other, a process of desaesthetization produced very particularly for architecture and urbanism, condemning artificial ornaments and beautification of the building, advocating geometric constructions completely stripped, replacing the harmonious composition of classical gardens by "green spaces".

At the same time, in various streams a new interest in so-called minor arts arises. While multiply the criticisms leveled at modern industry - accused of spreading ugliness and uniformity - the flower beautification projects of the everyday life of all classes, the desire to introduce art everywhere and in all things by diffusion of the decorative arts. From Ruskin to Art Nouveau, William Morris to the Arts & Crafts movement, and then to the Bauhaus, modernist currents abound who denounced "the egoistic conception of life as an artist" (Van de Velde), the pernicious distinction between "Great Art" and "minor arts", advocating the equal dignity of all forms of art, a useful and democratic art sustained by the rehabilitation of the applied arts, industrial arts, arts of decoration and construction. No longer want pictures and statues reserved to a high social class, but an art that invests in furniture, the wallpaper, the tapestries, the kitchenware, textiles, architectural facades, on posters. With the democratic era, the art takes on mission to save society, regenerate the quality of the home and the happiness of the people, "change the lives" of all days: the Modern Style was baptized by Giovanni Beltrami as "socialism della Belleza".

The very aesthetics of the modern age followed, so the two main roads. On the one hand, the radical aesthetics of pure art, art for art's sake, freed from all works of utilitarian purposes, having no other purpose than themselves. On the other, precisely the opposite, the project of a revolutionary art "for the people", a useful art that makes itself felt in the smallest details of everyday-oriented and well-being of most life.

Indeed, the industrial and commercial world was the primary craftsman of modern aesthetization of the world and its democratic expansion.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Art for the princes

Heir of classical antiquity, the exceptional importance of this period in art history, his works are a model of aesthetic perfection of the Renaissance to the present day. Are imposed the principles of harmony, balance the proportions, symmetry, a fair measure. The process of aesthetization is no longer separate of the purification of forms, the desire for a balanced and idealized beauty, synonymous with elegance and grace. Art does not imitate nature, she must sublimate it, transfiguring it by expressing the beauty ideal, harmonious perfection that is the cosmos itself.

The humanism of the Renaissance rehabilitates and expressly claimed, in the late Middle Ages comes a second stage that extends into the XVIII century. Is the premise of aesthetic modernity with the appearance of status separate from the artist craftsman, with the idea of the creative power of the artist-genius signing their works, with the unification of the arts in particular unitary concept of art in its modern sense, applying to all the fine arts, with works designed to please a lucky and educated public and not simply already communicating religious teachings and to meet the requirements of the dignitaries of the Church. The aesthetic dimension of art itself becomes important, the artist must endeavor to eliminate any imperfections and find images that are consistent with what is more beautiful, more harmonious in nature. With the gradual emancipation of artists in relation to corporations, they will benefit, through its contracts with sponsors, a margin of initiative until then unknown: the adventure of empowering the artistic and aesthetic mastery is underway.

This secular moment is contemporary of the life in the court, the appearance of fashion and elegance of their games, the treaties of "manners" but also an architecture that offers the very picture of refinement and grace, aesthetic urbanism inspiration, gardens with terraces that appear to paintings, sculptures, ponds, fountains, broad perspectives, designed to enchant and amaze the eye. Not only just commoditas, but the grace of harmonious forms, aesthetic pleasure, the venustas (Alberti), in pleasant, beautiful cities, "a pleasant appearance and pleasant stay" (Francesco di Giorgio Martini). Artists are requested and invited to the European courts to create magnificent scenery, decorate the inside of castles and planning parks. Churches wanting to seduce and attract the faithful offer, with the Baroque period, a lush theatrical spectacle with overloaded facades of sculptures, structures that disappear under the trimmings, optical effects, games of shadow and light, canopies, tabernacles, pulpits, wards, chalices, ciboria abundantly decorated, opens a whole exuberant art to create a grand spectacle, enhance the beauty and splendor of decoration ornaments. Monarchs, princes, the aristocratic classes throw themselves into large intended to make their cities and their finest residences, send build castles marked by elegance of style, build palaces, sumptuous villas, framed by huge parks full of statues and entrusted to the best architects. Remodel cities according to an aesthetic point of view, creating buildings consist of aligned harmonious facades, streets that offer great effects prospects squares beautification of cities has become a very important political goal. It must be an "urban art", a theatrical staging of city and nature, ennobling the inhabited environment and increasing the prestige, the greatness, the glory of kings and princes.

From the Renaissance, the art, the beauty, the aesthetic values acquired a value, a dignity, new social importance, which is witnessed by urban planning, the architecture, gardens, furniture, works of glass and faience in the nude painting and sculpture, the ideals of harmony and proportion. Taste for art and willingness to styling the framework of life that functions as a means of social assertiveness, way to mark the status and prestige of the larger more powerful. The aristocratic aesthetization, throughout this cycle, the intense process of aesthetization (elegance, refinement, grace of forms) in place in the upper echelons of society is not driven by social logic, political strategies of dramatization of power, the imperative of social representation and the primacy of competition for status and prestige of the constituent holistic society in which the importance of the relation of men overcomes the relation of men to things.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Art for the gods

For thousands of years, the arts into force in so-called primitive societies were not in fact created with an aesthetic intent and given a purely aesthetic "disinterested" and free, but with an essentially ritual purpose of consumption. In these cultures, what is intended with the style can’t be separated from, magic, sexual and religious organization of the clan. Inserted in collective systems that give them meaning, aesthetic forms of phenomena are not separate and autonomous functioning: the social and religious structure that everywhere dictates the agenda of artistic forms. Are societies in which the aesthetic conventions, social and religious organization are structurally related and undifferentiated. By translating the organization of the cosmos, to illustrate the myths expressing the tribe, clan, sex, pacing the important moments of social life, the masks, the headdresses, the paintings of the face and body, the sculptures, the dances have first a function and a ritual and religious value.

Because art has no separate existence, informs the whole of life: pray, work, exchange, fight, all these activities involve aesthetic dimensions that are anything but trivial or peripheral, since they are necessary to the success of various social and individual operations. The birth, death, rites of passage, hunting, marriage, war give way, everywhere, a artialization work done by dances, chants, fetishes, props, ritual narratives strictly differentiated according to age and sex. Artialization in ways that are not intended to be admired for their beauty, but to give practical powers: cure diseases, to oppose the negative spirits, make it rain, make alliances with the dead. Many of these ritual objects are not manufactured to be preserved: throw us off, destroyed after use and then repainted before each ceremony. Nothing of professional distinguished artists, nothing of works of art, "disinterested" or even often terms like "art", "aesthetic", "beauty". And yet, as Mauss stressed "the importance of the aesthetic phenomenon in all societies that preceded us is considerable."

Similar control over the entire collective aesthetic forms certainly not excluded, in either circumstance, some freedom of establishment or individual expressiveness. But are limited and specific phenomena, as well as aesthetic practices, these societies, are basically required by their cultural and social functions and are accompanied by extremely strict rules. Everywhere, the arts are implemented in compliance with draconian rules and fidelity to tradition. They don’t intent to innovate and invent new codes, but obey the canons received from ancestors or gods. It is a ritual artialization, traditional, religious, which marked the longest period in the history of the styles: a pre-reflective artialization without essentially artistic values, no specific and autonomous aesthetic intent system.