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January 07, 2005


What is it about a picture that makes it work?

One thing is its apparent effortlessness, as if it has always existed, containing a history and a resonance.

But itís not just the one thing - there isnít a formula. A computer and robot can make a car but they canít paint a picture. [Ok so they can paint a picture but it ainít art, baby!]

In the fifteenth century, as the mysteries of science and mathematics were being revealed by the learned scholars, artists sought the Golden Key: the formula for a successful painting.

Their search was fruitless. There is no Golden Key. Just a whole pile of contradictory information. At its most fundamental, art is subjective, what Paul might quite like, Pauline thinks is dross. As two old ladies I overheard in an exhibition in Yorkshire, put it: ďI like it, but I donít know if I like it enough to want it.Ē

When an exhibition can comprise of an empty gallery [painted white], never mind The Bricks and The Bed, then anything is art. The important thing is: anything can be art, but everything isnít art. If everything is art, as I said to Monty over the cooker in Leeds, all those years ago, then art doesnít exist.

So all we have left is expression. Art has long since stopped being a craft. Art has left the High Street, where people bought carrots, ordered a new table and called in at the artistís studio to see how the portrait was coming along; and disappeared up the back-stairs into the garret.

This transhumance was largely due to the teachings of Joshua Reynolds, and partly due to the advent of the camera. Today we are free to do what we want. And what constitutes art is anyoneís guess; though money and art bollocks have a lot to do with it.

To be continuedÖ

Posted by john at January 7, 2005 06:32 PM

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