Dear readers, welcome to the circus that is the contemporary art world! Grab your popcorn, because we're about to embark on a wild ride through the death of logic in this realm of creativity and chaos.
Ah, the art world, where logic goes to die, and pretentiousness thrives. Logic, the noble faculty of reason and rationality, a once respected and valued principle in the art world. Artists used logic to create works that were coherent, meaningful, and beautiful. They followed rules of composition, perspective, harmony, and proportion, seeking to express their ideas and emotions in clear and understandable ways. They aimed to please both the eye and the mind of the viewer.
But alas, logic’s reign was not to last. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a series of rebellions and revolutions shook the foundations of the art world. Artists began to question and challenge the established norms and conventions of art. They experimented with new forms, styles, techniques, and materials. They explored new themes, concepts, and philosophies. They rejected realism, naturalism, and representation, embracing abstraction, expressionism, and surrealism.
Some of these innovations were indeed brilliant and groundbreaking, opening up new possibilities and horizons for artistic expression. They enriched the diversity and complexity of the art world. They stimulated the imagination and creativity of both artists and viewers. Take for example, Salvador Dali. In 1929, Dali painted “The Persistence of Memory”, a surreal landscape featuring melting clocks, ants, and a distorted face. He said that he was inspired by a dream and by a Camembert cheese melting in the sun. He also said that he wanted to depict the relativity of time and space in a Freudian way. The painting is widely regarded as one of the masterpieces of surrealism and one of the most recognizable artworks in history.
But some of these innovations were also absurd and ridiculous. They pushed the boundaries of art to the point of absurdity and meaninglessness. They abandoned logic and replaced it with nonsense, randomness, and absurdity. They created works that sought to challenge the conventions of the art world, yet were often incomprehensible, illogical, and ugly to many viewers.
Naturally, the art world embraces the absurd and one could argue that the absurd is a statement that, paradoxically, is logical. But we are venturing into the realms that, to the ordinary viewer, seem to defy logic. Let’s start with a classic masterpiece, a banana duct-taped to a wall. Titled ‘The Comedian’, this work by Maurizio Cattelan caused a stir when displayed at Miami’s Art Basel. As a statement on the meaning of ordinary objects changing depending on context, we can maybe appreciate it on some level. Cattelan is an artist whose work often critiques art and capitalism. Witness his piece, ‘America’, when he installed a solid gold toilet in a public restroom at the Guggenheim Museum in New York and invited visitors to use it as a functional toilet. He said that he wanted to make a statement about wealth inequality and democracy in America. The toilet was stolen from an exhibition at Blenheim Palace in England in 2019, which one could argue is the ultimate statement on such notions. But these pieces are also part of what they purport to criticize. Ultimately, the gallery and the artist benefit from those who buy these works, and instead of laughing at, they are laughing along with the people they are mocking.
From the toilet to its contents. In 1961, Piero Manzoni canned his own feces in 90 tin cans, each weighing 30 grams. He labeled them “Artist’s Shit” and priced them according to their weight in gold. He said that he wanted to mock the art market and challenge the notion of art as something sacred and valuable. The cans were sold to collectors and museums, and in 2015, tin 54 sold for £182, 500. Critics hailed it as " a joke, a parody of the art market, and a critique of consumerism and the waste it generates." Yet, did the buyers get the joke or did it simply become a parody of itself?
And then there's the ever-entertaining game of "Guess What This Art Means." You stand before a giant, three-story sculpture of a rusty spoon with a fork sticking out of it, and you're told it's a commentary on the futility of utensils in the modern world. Of course! Silly me, I've been using forks and spoons all wrong. They were meant for profound philosophical reflection, not for eating spaghetti! Too many artists are guilty of creating works whose meaning they deign to even articulate. Some are brilliant, some are crap, but where is the line?
But the real masterpiece of illogical art has to be performance art. You know, where someone dresses up in a chicken suit, squawks for an hour, and claims it's a groundbreaking exploration of the human condition. Bravo! You've certainly opened my eyes to the deep, existential crisis that comes with being a chicken. Now, of course, some performance art is profound and moving. It touches deep into the recesses of our being. But it is also a genre that for many epitomizes the illogicality of the art world.
Of course, at the root of all this is the art market itself. The art world has always been guilty of being self absorbed and shallow. It's a place where rich collectors and speculators spend millions on pieces that most people wouldn't even use as a coaster. Why? Because they are told that it is worth money, often by the very artists who are mocking them. Hey, as long as it's considered an "investment," who cares if it looks like a toddler's finger painting? Are these artists complicit or truly revolutionary. It is subjective, but the consensus by many ordinary viewers is the former.
In conclusion, my dear readers, the death of logic in the art world is a spectacle to behold. It's a world where anything can be art, and everything can be profound, as long as you have the right amount of audacity and a generous dose of pretentiousness. So, the next time you find yourself in a gallery staring at a pile of bricks and wondering if you're missing something, just remember you're not alone. The art world lost its marbles a long time ago, and it's been thriving ever since. Cheers to the wonderfully illogical world of art!
We are a European/Lebanese run art space in Valencia, Spain.
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