It seems to me that there is only one thing that matters about art and that is "The Art". It is irrelevant who you are, who you know, what you know, what is relevant is the artwork whatever the medium. I am angered again by the distinction, and I would go as far as to say discrimination, from the established art world towards "outsiders". Whatever your sex, ethnicity or religion, art is art. This is pretty much established, but the significance of the work of self-taught and disabled artists is still largely overlooked as inferior or seen as mere accident. Are not all humans part of the cultural experience and the school of life?
|American outsider artist, Felipe Jesus Consalvos. Mixed media collage.|
What really annoys me is if you are an "insider" artist it is acceptable to look to primitive art for inspiration. Picasso being the most obvious example of this. His African period saw the creation of one of the most seminal paintings of modern art. The fusion of these supposedly disparate arts in Picasso, gave us a creative revelation that helped rebuild the Western art world. We do well to remember that many artists revered today, were initially dismissed by the establishment. We only need to look at the history of the Impressionists or even the Pre-raphealites to realise this. Let's not forget Van Gogh, if he was painting today would he be dismissed for his mental health problems? Great art is great art, some great artists can at times produce inferior art, although their reputation and monetary value will render it great regardless.
|Picasso, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. 1907.|
|Oskar Kokoschka, Self Portrait|
|Chagall, Bride with blue face|
|Georg Baselitz, [The Brücke Chorus] 1983 Oil on canvas 280 x 450 cm|
Two events have led me to this post, the first was the upcoming L S Lowry exhibition at the Tate. I happened upon a documentary by Gandalf, (I mean, Sir Ian Mckellen), highlighting the lack of recognition the artist has received in the art world, although his work is much loved by the "common" people. I was excited to discover his landscapes,seascapes and portraits which I had not previously been aware of and also the collection of ballet drawings discovered after his death.
The second, was the discovery of the art of Judith Scott an "outsider" artist who was profoundly deaf and had Down's Syndrome who may now be starting to be accepted as an "artist" without the denigrative term "outsider". Her work poses a real conundrum for the art world. If her work is accepted as art could this set a precedent for the term to be banished and become obsolete. I do hope this contradiction the established art world is faced with in the art of Judith Scott, tears down some of the limitations to which art the wider public are exposed too.
Discrimination in the art world, in Britain particularly, also extends to the medium used. A painter's worth can be diminished if they venture into sculpture or pieces that could be considered craft, such as ceramics. I love the quandary that Grayson Perry's art inflicted by creating contemporary art with the mediums of pottery and tapestry. The painters Gauguin and Picasso successfully ventured into sculpture and the sculptors Giacometti and William Turnbull were equally important as painters. Is Gauguin's self portrait below a jug or art and is this proof that it can be both? Further, if a painter of abstracts ventures into figurative work it can diminish the validity of their abstracts and vice versa.
|Gauguin, Self portrait, Jug in the form of a head.|
Isn't it time for the barriers of established opinions to take a backseat and let the artists take their correct place of holding the reins. Theory can define the past, but artists are the champions of our creative future and their art should be unfettered. As my Facebook friend the artist Hannah Reim told me yesterday "Not all art is art and not all craft is craft. Some art is craft and some craft is art." Ultimately, art is art.
The organization above called Creative Growth, is giving developmentally disabled artists the chance to express themselves.