Over the past few days a good friend has told me that my attitude to art is the same as those critics who dismissed the great artists of the past like Picasso, Warhol and Mondrian and I “would have condemned every new move as it came along”…
He tells me I echo “every generation of critics who condemned van Gogh, Monet, and….incredibly….the Mona Lisa”… and I am “displaying the wrong mental attitude to be a modern artist”.
Where do all of these criticisms come from? What brought them about?
It started with my dismissive comments about Robert Ryman’s “Arena” (left), hanging in the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra.
“Arena” is a white canvas that is no different in appearance (apart from size) to the many primed and gessoed canvases that I’ve had at home. And yet “Arena” is deemed worthy of space on a wall in Australia’s National art gallery. AND, clearly, was originally seen as worth a hefty price tag to be acquired for the gallery.
So what IS the difference between “Arena” and the many thousands of white painted canvases to be found in the studios of most artists?
What makes a gallery see one artist’s white canvas as being worthy “art” and all of those others as not having equal worth?
To me the answer is clear. It is the celebrity status of the artist. It is the same thing that makes an autographed photo of a film star stand apart from a signed photo of me?
The art world is steeped in celebrity worship.