Friday, December 28, 2007

Is self therapy a reason for taking to the arts?

Roberta Smith in a short essay in the back page of the Sunday Times art review made some assertions as regards art as a 'practice'.

The assertions are as follows:
#1. First off, there’s the implication that artists, like lawyers, doctors and dentists, need a license to practice. Many artists already feel the need for a license: It’s called a master of fine arts. But artists don’t need licenses or certificates or permission to do their work. Their job description, if they have one, is to operate outside accepted limits.

#2. Second is the implication that an artist, like a doctor, lawyer or dentist, is trained to fix some external problem. Art rarely succeeds when it sets out to fix anything beyond the artist’s own, subjective needs.

#3. Practice sanitizes a very messy process. It suggests that art making is a kind of white-collar activity whose practitioners don’t get their hands dirty, either physically or emotionally. It converts art into a hygienic desk job and signals a basic discomfort with the physical mess as well as the unknowable, irrational side of art making. It suggests that materials are not the point of art at all — when they are, on some level, the only point.

While #1 and #3 are very much agreeable, I questioned #2 over at Art and Perception in a post yesterday. Link to the post here.

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