I believe the lack of aesthetic standards in the arts is the cultural equivalent to moral relativism. Certainly, I am not painting every artist with this allegation of self-debasement, nor every gallery for perpetuating said atrocities. Unfortunately, however, it continues to be my experience that there’s a lot of bad art in galleries, and sadly, just as much junk that doesn’t even qualify as art taking up space and demeaning the value of good work. Consequently, I believe the general decline of society is at least partially linked to this cultural decline. The reason being that the deterioration of artistic beauty, in my mind, leads to a general loss of respect for the world in general.
Of course, I have no training in psychology, so you can take this article with a grain of salt and I wont be offended. In fact, I prefer you to do a little leg work and form your own educated opinion on the matter. I’m not here to convince you that you shouldn’t pay a thousand dollars for a framed scribble on notebook paper, but I would advise you against it. I would argue that you’d be wasting your presumably hard-earned money and perpetuating a culture of meaningless and talentless ‘art’ by doing so. I would also ask you to learn more about the Dadaist movement in the arts to better understand where I am coming from. When I have educated myself sufficiently on the subject, I will return to write in more detail.
For now, lets return to the original premise: I believe there is a direct correlation between the philosophies (or lack thereof) of Dadaism and moral relativism with the deterioration of our societal structure. I also believe it is not at all by accident. If it were a question of cultural laziness and lack of talent, that would be disturbing, but also reparable. However, I am certain there is also a measure of malicious intent driving this cultural and societal decline. It is my opinion that there is a general movement to destroy the concepts of value and individual merit in both, for the purpose of creating a new standardized concept of these ideals.
Compare, for instance, these two examples of public art:
If you prefer something a little more traditional, here are two paintings:
- Oil on Canvas, by Ashley Norfleet
- Jackson Pollock ‘painting’
- I am here to argue that not everything created under the pretense of being art or the contrivance of being shocking is actually art. There are many who disagree with me on this point. Many believe that the artist’s intent counts as much as the final result of their efforts. I consider this point of view to be either a crutch for lack of talent or for lack of self esteem on the part of the artist. While I believe very strongly that there is and should be meaning behind a piece of art, I also believe that there must be talent for it to be good. There must be some exchange of value between the work and the viewer in order to convey that meaning.
- Some say it’s all art – some good, some bad. While that does indicate an understanding of value, it does not address the issue of the effect that bad art has on the value of good art or the quality of our culture as a whole. I am particularly offended by bad art when considered in conjunction with the selfish mantra of many artists I know:
- “Artists are contributing an invaluable service to society through their work and should be compensated for this contribution.” Fine, but only in relation to society’s perceived value of the work, to be determined in a free and open market. If the work is appealing to society, good or bad, the artist should have no trouble selling it. Of course there are other factors, such as marketing and exposure to be considered, but it falls on the responsibility of the artist to treat their work as a business endeavor rather than an excuse for a handout.
- The point of all of my rambling is this: I wouldn’t buy a car that doesn’t run or a house that is falling down, so why should I be expected to buy paint splatters or a stack of ladders if I don’t find them appealing?