Easier said than done11:13 AM
Are modern artists substituting talent for social criticism?
It happened again. I saw the painting above, didn’t particularly like it, but then I heard an amazing explanation for it. In the audio guide explanation, the artist himself, Luis Gordillo, said things like: “Man has become an infantilized clown (…), man sits in an alien environment that gives us television and magazines, like that’s all we need.”
The criticism is very accurate and I actually agree with him, but what about the painting? Does it convey what he is trying to say? Is it interesting nonetheless? That’s up for debate, but this trend of big explanations poses a problem. I would rather read what the artist has to say than hang his painting in my house.
The reality is that many artists are more concerned with social criticism than they are with art. Not that criticism should be excluded from art, but there must be a balance and in many cases the criticism is stronger than the painting itself.
Now, throughout history artists were always more or less concerned with their public. So, why is this a modern tren? It’s not only from the 20th century onwards that society needed criticism. Weren’t artists dissatisfied with things in Ancient Greece? Didn’t people have problems in Ancient Egypt? Sure, but artists probably felt that it wasn’t their job to show it to people.
I’m not saying that the artist taking the role of critic is bad. However, he needs to maintain a distance from the object he wants to criticize. Most artists feel like criticizing bourgeois society and its biased values. But aren’t they a part of an equally biased society themselves? Aren’t they a part of a group that shares the same marxist, nihilistic and atheistic ideas?
Edward Albee, the playwright, said that arts should hold a mirror up to society1. And who is going to hold a mirror up to artists and show them that they criticize other’s prejudices using a set of ready-made ideas?
My point is: criticism in art is valid. Making criticism to make up for lack of talent is not.
What do you think? Should artists be more concerned with criticism than actual aesthetic or moral values?
Image: Caballero cubista aux larmes by Luis Gordillo - Source
1“The function of the arts is to hold a mirror up to people, to say, ‘This is how you are. Take a hard look; if you don’t like what you see, change.’ - Edward Albee, playwright - Source