Discussion

Does art support elitism?

14 replies [Last post]

Does art support elitism?

Ulro Blake's picture
Offline
Joined: 15 Jun 2012
Posts: 2
Applause: 0

Historically, art has been enjoyed as a mark of refinement by the upper class. Even today, who tends to fill art schools? Who is, for example, pursuing media studies? In general, our society rewards art that is consumable and 'entertaining' - that is, art by artists who avoid representing social reality. Art, in this sense, is mere artifice. It 'covers over' reality with a pleasing or thrilling appearance. Not only is art commercialized, but art itself perpetuates and promotes the premises of commercialism.

 

4 years 37 weeks ago
booji's picture
Offline
Joined: 20 Mar 2012
Posts: 390
Applause: 39

How broad are you considering art to be? Just paintings and sculpture?

4 years 37 weeks ago
Colin Helling's picture
Offline
Joined: 13 Sep 2011
Posts: 157
Applause: 11

Ulro Blake wrote:
Historically, art has been enjoyed as a mark of refinement by the upper class.

This is true mostly because the upper classes had the money to commission, and the time to look. No one else did.

Ulro Blake wrote:
In general, our society rewards art that is consumable and 'entertaining' - that is, art by artists who avoid representing social reality.

Really? I dont believe that for a moment, the Turner prize is the biggest art prize in Britain and its entries seem to compete on the basis of who can produce the most baffling and unintelligable piece that only hard core art critics can even attempt to understand. The artists that are most popular are the dead ones or are derided by the art establishment like Jack Vettriano.

Ulro Blake wrote:
Art, in this sense, is mere artifice. It 'covers over' reality with a pleasing or thrilling appearance. Not only is art commercialized, but art itself perpetuates and promotes the premises of commercialism.

I agree art is commercial, if it was not there would be no artists, everyone needs to make a living, we are for better or worse, in a capitalist society. I also agree that quite a lot of art is meaningless but im not at all bothered by that.

The problem here is you are both deriding art for being pictures or representations, but that is what it is. Its entertaining and consumable, of course that is what it is for. Art does not have to be a deep social commentry. Much of that deep social commentry is invented by Art historians after the fact anyway!

4 years 37 weeks ago
booji's picture
Offline
Joined: 20 Mar 2012
Posts: 390
Applause: 39

Colin Helling wrote:

This is true mostly because the upper classes had the money to commission, and the time to look. No one else did.

This was why I was asking what we were defining as art. Yes the art we think of is the big famous works that cost loads to make, but that ignores that many ordinary people produced works that might be considered art, they just happened to be practical at the same time. What about jewelery, small carvings, textiles? We simply dont consider such things to be art of the time (of course today they might be if the person who made them claimed to be an artist!)

4 years 37 weeks ago
Colin Helling's picture
Offline
Joined: 13 Sep 2011
Posts: 157
Applause: 11

Since he was complaining about art as artifice, then it might be taken as given that he does not think all artifice is art!

4 years 37 weeks ago
Alex Helling's picture
Offline
Joined: 13 Sep 2011
Posts: 1128
Applause: 107

How can art support elitism? It is hardly a lucrative profession, people who are children of the elite who go into art schools are not going to remain the elite for very long unless they are a very good artists. 

Similarly if art is consumable and 'entertaining' then the implication is that it is directed at a mass consumer audience not an elite. 

Therefore while it is possible to say that elitism supports art I dont think it works the other way.

4 years 36 weeks ago
KateDebate's picture
Offline
Joined: 27 Mar 2012
Posts: 230
Applause: 17

Art is no longer elitist, and this is how it should be. Art should be for and enjoyed by everyone. Today many gallerys with the best paintings are open to the public and many of the biggest are free. Art has therefore become entertainment for the people as much as the elite.

4 years 36 weeks ago
booji's picture
Offline
Joined: 20 Mar 2012
Posts: 390
Applause: 39

Ill add to this some figures; the Louvre in Paris attracted 8.88 million visits in 2011 and the national gallery in London 5.25million, both huge numbers especially when considering that both cities have a large number of other galleries as well. In both cases the number of visitors to galleries is considerably higher than the population of the city so there is a good chance that most people in those cities visited a gallery at some point in the year - this makes it difficult to say that art is still just an activity for the elite.

figures for top 50 visited museums and galleries http://www.theartnewspaper.com/attfig/attfig11.pdf

4 years 36 weeks ago
Ulro Blake's picture
Offline
Joined: 15 Jun 2012
Posts: 2
Applause: 0

This leads to a new question, actually - possibly a stranger one.  Who are the elite today?  As I voyage downtown on public transport, which of the people I see pounding the pavement had grandparents who were servants and laborers?  Is there still some correlation between one's family lineage and its tendencies of action/belief/behavior, and one's own place in the world? Are we 'programmed' to think in certain ways? 

We can share Mcluhan's optimism about the global village and the democritization of culture through technology, but, then, the mighty channels of art DO still force artistic creation through a very narrow aperture, often with a board of directors (or share holders) in mind.  These issues may seem unrelated, but they do turn, in a sense, around the question of refinement.  If being an aristocrat means being refined, who would not want to an aristocrat?  What makes one 'refined' today?  Is it something to which people aspire?  Is it synonymous with "bourgeois"?  Is aesthetics ideology?

I agree that there are many, many aspiring artists who want nothing more than to live the life of imagination.  And many great artists have chosen to think of art as a craft - for instance, Dylan Thomas. Personally, I do think that art, and its attendant talents, is older than civilization.  I suppose real refinement simply doesn't put on airs.

As Blake wrote, "The Last Judgment is the Overthrow of bad Art & Science."   

 

4 years 36 weeks ago
Alex Helling's picture
Offline
Joined: 13 Sep 2011
Posts: 1128
Applause: 107

Who are the elite is a very good question - some are still the old elite (Queen, House of Lords in the UK for example) but most I guess have to be businessmen - CEOs, bankers etc. Frankly the kind of people who go in for brash and rather tasteless art!

Ulro Blake wrote:
Is there still some correlation between one's family lineage and its tendencies of action/belief/behavior, and one's own place in the world? Are we 'programmed' to think in certain ways?

Not something I am qualified to answer but I should think the answer to the first question would probably be yes - certainly many people vote the same way their parents and grandparents did, I should think that belief and behaviour would be similar. But are we programmed in certain ways I am more skeptical of (depending on what you really mean) as I would rather believe in there being free will.

4 years 35 weeks ago
booji's picture
Offline
Joined: 20 Mar 2012
Posts: 390
Applause: 39

Ulro Blake wrote:
What makes one 'refined' today?

I could not resist answering this bit having noticed a couple of articles on the 'gentleman' of today. supposedly "the gentleman of today has given up cigarettes for nicorette gum, eats muesli with blueberries, is clean shaven and is happy to go out without a tie... attends Glastonbury, has a Land Rover Discovery, drinks Pinot Noir from New Zealand, embarks on shooting at Alnwick, Northumberland and goes skiing in the French resort of Val d’Isère."

Ulro Blake wrote:
Is aesthetics ideology?... As Blake wrote, "The Last Judgment is the Overthrow of bad Art & Science."

I am not sure I agree that it is - and dont agree with Blake. As everyone has their own aesthetic tastes I think it would be impossible to ascribe ideologies to aesthetic tastes. I may like classical music but I dont vote conservative!

The overthrow of bad art and science seems too much like grouching to me - everyone has their own view of what is bad art. I personally may think a Rothko is pretty pointless but to someone else it is worth $87million - for a simple painting made of three colours this seems to me to be barmy!

 

4 years 35 weeks ago
Laura Mead's picture
Offline
Joined: 16 Oct 2012
Posts: 1
Applause: 0

Art should be done as a hobby, not as an indulged way of life for an elite. Generally, it has never been independent of money, but today we can say that it has become a dependency of money.

 

4 years 19 weeks ago
Dina's picture
Offline
Joined: 17 Feb 2012
Posts: 39
Applause: 6

Art does support elitism because only people who can afford the luxury of owning art can buy it. Artists can only be trained if they can afford it, therefore art naturally favours the elite of society- people who have enough economic stability to do as they people, and be creative all day. 

Governments cannot afford to spend money on art and culture like they used to, and nor should they- it should be privately managed, proabably by elites. 

art should be more open to the rest of society and not just those who can afford the luxury of being an artist as they have no financial impariments. 

4 years 19 weeks ago
Bill Murray's picture
Offline
Joined: 26 Aug 2013
Posts: 2
Applause: 0

We ask that the government undertake the obligation above all of providing citizens with adequate opportunity for employment and earning a living. The activities of the individual must not be allowed to clash with the interests of the community, but must take place within its confines and be for the good of all. regards bill

 

3 years 27 weeks ago
Alex Helling's picture
Offline
Joined: 13 Sep 2011
Posts: 1128
Applause: 107

Bill Murray wrote:

We ask that the government undertake the obligation above all of providing citizens with adequate opportunity for employment and earning a living. 

So you are saying there are other priorities apart from art? If so is that not exactly what makes art elitist; if the government wont pay for anything then only the richest are able to afford to, and they in turn are likely to encourage art for themselves not the people.

3 years 27 weeks ago
Syndicate content