|CHARMING, EDGY, PROFOUND
((Excerpt from, "Art In King Size Beds: A Collector's Journal"))
Let's face it. Most of us are not art historians. Nor are we art critics.
However, many of us are aware of the major movements in art history that have brought us to this moment. Impressionism, Abstract Expressionism, The Hudson River School, etc. From a collecting standpoint, these movements help when it comes to classifying, keeping track of inventory and mounting exhibitions, but despite their historical significance, art movements shouldn't be overwhelming. No disrespect, but do they serve us or do we serve them?
I look forward to the day when historians, artists and collectors can just look at a work of art without feeling the need to categorize it or display it with a bunch of other similarly themed works. I've visited many museums and galleries where Impressionist paintings (for example) grouped together are certainly lovely, but they also seemed to be robbed of life and individual expression, somehow. I think that looking at a group of paintings from the same school forces the observer to focus on the movement rather than on the merits of an individual piece.
Movements are straitjackets for paintings.
Because of that, as a collector, I've come up with my own ways of viewing art. For example, I have found that most of the countless works that I've seen can be described as either ...
"Charming," "Edgy" or "Profound."
Before you laugh, consider it. Most great still lifes and landscapes, regardless of their period, are charming. They just are. Most good urban, street art tends to be edgy. Obviously. And most works by the great masters (DaVinci, Michelangelo, etc), well, they're profound. They generally comment of issues of God, man and struggle. Of course, there are many artists today who are creating profound work. Needless to say, in order to acquire profound work, you must have profound money which leaves most of us "out of the picture."
But just imagine visting a museum where you had a Jean-Michel Basquiat piece (edgy) hanging next to a work by Caravaggio (profound). I'm sure some of you are passing out at the very thought. The artists themselves may even be spinning in their graves! But mixing up the charming, edgy and profound would bring all art to LIFE! Particularly the works of deceased artists. Some of the groupings would create great dialogue while others would simply co-exist. What would you even call such an exhibition? Who cares? It's all art. In short, it would rock! An eclectic mix. Just like real life.
Mark Rothko (edgy? profound?) hanging next to Vermeer? (profound?) Frida Kahlo (edgy? charming?) sharing wallspace with Rembrandt (profound) Why not? Are there influences at work? Is it a sacrilege? People need some shaking up when it comes to how they view art. Contemporary art on the third floor and Dutch masters (for example) on the fourth floor. It's always so tidy and appropriate. And boring.
Now, of course, charming, edgy and profound are merely adjectives. I'm aware that my use of them here is creating a whole new set of categories for art. However, the reality is that we live in a material world and in this case, we have to use something tangible to dissolve barriers.
Why not really use our knowledge of art history as a way to truly teach and think outside the box? Not to mention, keep old art relevant today? As a result, museums and galleries would be flooded with visitors like never before. Supporting courageous curators would be key.
Charming, edgy, profound. Let's do it. It's all in the mix, baby. RE-MIX!