Illustration – (pencil sketch with photoshop additives).
There are few artists who go beyond their own individual characteristic contribution to the ‘canon’ of art. (No one as they say ‘has it all’)
In fact they are known for the particular style they have forged, and though capable of flowing in other styles, they are usually known for a breakthrough in taking us somewhere else. (e.g. Picasso, Braque, Gris = Cubism)
On their journey they have experienced or tried many of the established styles that have gone before, but a positive restlessness spurs them on to find new ways of expression.
Most times this new found way of expressing themselves is not initially appreciated – and so we have the Van Gogh syndrome.
We refer to Vincent because to most he epitomises the rejected, misunderstood, suffering artist. This can be romanticised to an extreme of course but is largely true.
It is true also that such expressions as ‘an actor’s actor’, ‘a painter’s painter’ and so on makes reference to the fact that they are sometimes best understood amongst their own, fellow artists.
Those who do not engage in the process of making art perhaps wonder what the purpose is, of some of the conversations artists have with each other.
If I went to a plumber’s convention – I would sit dumbfounded at the exchanges of conversation and lectures taking place. I am totally ignorant regarding plumbing. And of course I have no desire to even begin to engage in the process of learning or understanding it.
And I guess many are similarly demotivated when it comes to going beyond the surface appearance of a piece of art.
And in many ways they do not need to.
Our emotional response to a piece of work is all we need. The proverbial ‘I know what I like’, is fine.
But what swung opinion from rejection of Vincent’s work to acceptance and veneration, often measured in society’s eyes by the number of zeros accumulated in monetary terms?
It took time, yes, for Vincent to be ‘recognised’ and honoured, after he left the scene of time.
Society ends up reluctantly agreeing with the analysis and ‘monetary establishing’ of the artist’s reputation, that comes as a result of the opinion of a conglomerate of art pundits, critics, dealers, museums, galleries, taste-setters – art historians et al.
Reluctantly – for those who really haven’t studied or examined the artist, but realise that a ‘fuss’ is being made about their work – they conclude ‘they must have something’.
So they are swayed by the majority and they too pay lip-service to the praise dished out by the ‘experts’.
Afraid perhaps of seeming ignorant or not clued-in enough – they feign agreement with the genius verdict, at the expense of what they really think.
For most artists the doing of the work is their chief motivating factor.
And in the absence of the appreciation of others – they fall back on the fact that – compulsion to create – overrides any lack of interest from others.
But we must recognise that just as every artist is different in style – so every human being is different in what they like or don’t like.
So I guess what ‘appreciation society’ we belong to, is determined by how many members are accrued and whether they get to know that each other exists. (In order to form the society)
For example as far as I know there is still an appreciation society for the art of Laurel and Hardy.
Enough folks, perhaps further enabled by the internet got to know that each other existed and so Laurel and Hardy’s name and art is celebrated amongst their enthusiastic followers.
Mutual appreciation is such an important part of life.
Veering from our subject I write on the need for human appreciation in one of my page posts by that title (see above in header list).
We can’t get away from how much this is part of our lives i.e. – love and appreciation.
In music appreciation – I find that unless I am immediately impacted by the work of the artist – I will usually (but not always) refrain from investigating their sound further.
I used to chair (Chairman Meow 😎) a night we entitled MAN nights. An acronym for Musical Appreciation Nights. At these nights we would each bring a CD of a piece of music under a given theme heading.
Each would play their piece in turn, and afterwards we would all share what we perceived, appreciated about the song, what we thought it meant etc.
At the end of the evening we voted on the best contribution of the night. (Not allowed to vote for our own song).
I am just reflecting on those enjoyable evenings, as often the conversation would pleasantly stray in many other (non-musical) directions.
But the fact that certain given songs would win the vote must educate us in some way, with regard to certain art – gaining appreciation it perhaps did not have going for it – at the beginning of the evening.
But as we listened and shared opinions – a persuasion other than what we perhaps initially held came our way.
Teaching us surely to try to give every artist a chance, be open to their contribution and thus appreciation can grow and might even, reach a place where we want to collect or own their work.