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Here are my mutterings and musings mainly on art.


By themaclean, Feb 23 2016 02:42PM

Most people enjoy and appreciate: music, film, TV, games, dance, sport, theatre, books, gardening, food and drink - more than art.

And, unlike art, they enjoy them more often.

By comparison, few go to an art gallery or museum more than once a year.

Most ordinary people’s relationship with art is tenuous and superficial. For them, it has no use, other than mere decoration.

You’ll never hear them say, “It changed my life.” You’re more likely to hear phrases such as: “That’s pretty. That’s ugly. My kids could do better. What’s that supposed to be? What does it mean? I know what I like. That’s clever. That’s silly. That’s disgusting. That’s boring”

No one says you're a philistine if you're not into jazz, or opera, folk, heavy metal, or country music. And no one would have the effrontery to say that you should read up on the subject, or go on courses to appreciate it.

Like music, art should speak for itself.

Why should anyone bother learning about art history and theory? They’ve all got better, more interesting and rewarding things to do.

“If it doesn't reach out to me without the need for a translator or intermediary, why should I bother? Life’s too short baby.”

In the early 21st Century there art still two types of art: art for the hoi polloi and art for the aristos.

How did we get to the situation where art has alienated so many people? Was it always so? Was art always the province of the aristos and not the people?

Even cave art was the province of the shaman. And after that, illiterate peasants were “educated” by the church through paintings and stained glass.

Of course rulers and monarchs have always collected and commissioned art for public and self-edification. And after that rich merchants and the new industrialists followed suit.

Art could be seen in museums and galleries, but it wasn’t until the late 1960s and 1970s, that art prints became widely available through companies such as Athena.

For the first time, ordinary people could buy reasonably good, affordable reproductions.

This was followed by more expensive limited editions that were offered to the new, growing middle class by companies such as Christie’s Contemporary Arts through mail order.

In the 80s and 90s, small galleries set up and started selling low to medium-priced originals and prints. They sold mainly realistic art such as landscapes, seascapes and as pottery.

The Noughties saw the rise of online galleries and art fairs, which also deal in low to medium-priced originals and prints.

In the meantime, even newer, nouveau riche: bankers, money traders; Russian and Chinese oligarchs, began moving into art.

By 2014, according to Deloites and ArtTactic, 76% of art buyers viewed their acquisitions as investments, compared with 53% in 2012.

Art appreciation used to be about aesthetics. Now, most collectors (76%) are more concerned with the appreciation in prices of their “investments.” It’s appalling.

So, why should we spend so many millions every year subsidising an art form that so few really appreciate? It’s still elitist, unlike: music, film, TV, games, dance, theatre, sport and literature.

In short, art $ucks.

Iain Maclean

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