I read an article about jazz today, about the festival in Saalfelden, Austria, and about how jazz is completely accepted as art. You can’t provoke a scandal with jazz anymore. This made me think. Do we need scandals?
The history of the visual arts is a continuous progress towards ever more perfection, and it reached its high point during Renaissance. There was no way to get more realistic, no way to get more detailed, and from then on, it went the other way: towards abstraction. You see it begin in Titian’s colors, how he mixed red and green, you see it much stronger in Tintoretto, Rubens used a rougher brush with longer strokes, El Greco and the late Goya pointed up to our times, impressionism re-invented color, expressionism warped it, and with Kandinsky and Mondrian that second progression finally came to an end.
There was always a tendency to mix art and scandal, because scandal sells almost as good as sex, but the art of the 20th century was especially characterized by the tendency to shock the viewer and that is very much due to the fact that art had to search for a new orientation. The gesamtkunstwerk was born.
I understand all that and I understand how necessary this was in many cases, but there is also the question of what becomes of a piece of art, when the performance is over, the shock has worn off. Is it still art? Does it keep its value? Can it persist in spite of being isolated from the original context?
This weekend I have got my copy of “The $12 Million Stuffed Shark” by Don Thompson. I have not read it yet and won’t do so during the next weeks, but I guess this book will answer some of my questions, at least from the point of view of economics.
For me the most important point is, that we live in a post-modern world. Of course this is old news, but it is essential to realize, that this gives us enormous freedom. The river has come to an end, there is no more need to swim with or against the current, there is no current any more, we are floating in an endless sea of possibilities. This is scary but liberating.
It is possible to take up pieces from older times, it is possible to combine, it is possible to simply do what you feel you need to do, regardless of trends and fashions. There is nothing to win by trying to swim with a current when there is no current at all. You can as well be you and be happy with it. In an age of ubiquitous and instantaneous communication you may not get rich, but you will find your audience.
The Image of the Day is one more bicycle for the book, and the frogs were hanging outside of a shop. A sad and a happy image, that’s it for today.
The Song of the Day is “Sad Song” from Lou Reed’s 1973 album “Berlin”. What a wonderful song. Hear it on YouTube.