May 20, 2009

My colleague in art unexpectedly said to me that he no longer liked women’s faces in art.  In jest I asked if he was becoming a misogynist, and we talked further.

He clarified that some faces were ok, maybe just the faces that were fashionable or just beautiful were objectionable…”this one is ok and I like that one all right” as he pointed to women’s faces that suggested natural states, universality or expression.  “Not just a pretty face” was my interpretation of what he was conveying.

It made me think about why we like what we like in art.  Do the emotional responses change in light of education and experience?

When I go to a museum, I don’t like to use the headphones that tell you about each work. I first want to have a personal, uneducated response to the art before I delve into knowing about the artist or the circumstances of what he is saying or why she used the imagery she did.

One time I went to the MOMA and I saw the work of Cy Twombly.  One piece in particular drew my attention, but I didn’t “get it”.  I thought about it often.   While studying the work of photographer Harry Callahan, a photo of grasses emerging through the snow connected me to that painting.  I then understood what Twombly was saying to me. That moment helped me to define one of my emotional responses to art.  The wonder and underlying essence of nature speaks to me in art…the abstracted concepts, patterns and secrets of what is happening dynamically in the natural world. When I witness those concepts in a two or three-dimensional representation, it is as sublime as the nature itself.

I have studied, written about and taught art for many years.  With education comes appreciation and understanding. But I am talking about the emotional response…what really turns one on or off about art. To discover and define those aspects is epiphanic and revealing.

So when my colleague told me about the faces of women, he was just reinforcing what I already knew about him, he has a true respect for women. His personal art collection is full of women, real and expressive women.  Maybe experiences and education recently reinforced that revelation. It was his emotional response to art that he was declaring. And what are emotional responses except unexplained forces of nature that happen dynamically.

And I believe it an apt metaphor for art itself…Not just a pretty picture, but a personal response to what is significant in one’s own life.


museum quality giclee?

May 13, 2009

I recently saw advertised on an artist’s page “museum quality giclees” for sale.  The original was a mixed media painting with collaged papers.  I called immediately to find out why the artist would consider a reproduction of her original as museum quality.  She assured me the copy looked as good as the original (not for sale) and most people could not tell the difference.  The giclee was printed on the best ink jet printer using archival inks and rag paper so the copy could stand the test of time and it retails for $750.

Really? I find it hard to believe that just the materials used qualify a piece of art as museum quality. Plus the fact that museums generally stay away from reproductions, much preferring to collect original art and artifacts.  But the idea that most people could not tell the difference is the part that disturbed me the most of what she said. 

The term giclee actually means spray of ink, from an ink jet printer, onto paper or fabric. Looking closely at a giclee will show a smooth finish without brushmark or nuance of tool or medium (most certainly not showing any collaged aspects.)  You can see the weave of canvas or textured paper…sometimes those pesky marketers of reproductions add painted areas or a varnish with strong brush strokes, thus making the “work of art” embellished and more valuable, at least in the pricing, which brings me to the next point about giclees.

Giclees of paintings will be worth less than you pay for them.

A giclee or digital print of any medium other than digital images like photographs or computer genaerated art is just a poster, a copy, a reproduction, a poser, pretending to be something it is not.  Yes, there is a place in the market for posters, offset lithograph prints and reproductions,  they can be found in department stores everywhere.  Numbering and signing them does not increase their value. and please do not be fooled by language and inappropriate prices to the value of these giclees.  They are not considered fine art and most artists and collectors feel that they actually devalue the original. 

However, there are museum quality digital images produced on the same ink jet printers, using the same inks and papers, but they are originals or editions of images designed and created for the medium used.  And limited editions are very collectible and valued by museums as long as they are hand-pulled originals, which will be the next topic of suzsaysthisaboutart blog.