A lot of people who devote themselves
to knowledge more for passion than for work, nowadays wonder: what is art?
This is a question that could have
been spread formally with the birth of Western Democracies but substantially
it has ancestral sources. The question in fact is one of the universal values:
"Is the heart round?"; "Why do
we exist?"; "What is life and God?".
Maybe the question is more difficult
and inscrutable than it used to be in the past, even if the first has a subject
that only involves human will; but this is not the issue. Mind is an organized
system far most complex we know, and is governed by infinitely more refined
laws than those who regulate whole universe. What mind creates can be also
vastly articulated and it can have lots of meanings.
Once we are aware of that, asking
"What is art?"
Means to trying to define a phenomenon
that, by nature, tends to escape from every tentative of definition. Maybe
this is a way to try to build a frame that could possibly provide an answer.
By defining art without putting out it from historical context; but this
way we will never reach an unambiguous definition.
It could be that art is no other
than a continuous succession of definitions. Nowadays to wonder what art
is, it is not a common practice and it is the result of the exercise
of free thought. It will always be human ambition to try to control those
forms of expressions that, by their nature, escape from any sort of control.
So it is also a responsability to try to define what art is.
A definition has to be as generic
as possible and to prefer every technical point. Nevertheless, it becomes
evident to the disenchanted observer how contemporary art constitutes an
unique paradox that makes the question absolutely deprived of any meaning
and justification. It is difficult to trace the real reasons for that, but
it seems that the community, presumably with goods intentions, possibly fooled
by a somewhat distorted vision of romanticism, associated the artist
to a vision of absolute freedom.
This concept was understood as
freedom for everyone to paint and sculpt, free from any rules, form, or contents
and not as foundation of principles that would ratify the liberty of expression.
So paint and sculpture were cheated upon, deprived of any professional aspect;
reduced to pastimes and eccentric habits accessible to anyone. It some believe
that some aspects of Marxist culture consumerism are to be blamed for this
goingo through its first deregulation in a society based on work and profession,
where categories are protected from law.
Painting and sculpture suffer from
ostracism, maybe being the only ones that do not have a professional role.
In fact they are not professions by definition. Could it be that this a kind
Between the middle of XIX and the
middle of XX century art has had a magnificent development, during that time
there was a colossal revolution in the cultural environment. It was impossible
to keep art under direct control, that is ahead of times as always, for political
institutions that later were overwhelmed by epochal and traumatic social
The post-war period was the time
when control was imposed again. The Ex-Soviet Union did it with iron hand.
Meanwhile, Western Democracies adopted, maybe unaware, the Babele technique.
Anyone can decide to be painter or sculptor and have the right to take a
part in art contests or exhibit in public his own artefacts. This is the
Tower of Babele. Resources and talents are often scattered in this predominant
confusion of the bedlam. Contemporary art should be simple, involved,
annihilated. Painting and sculpture have been colonized by trends and marketing.
Innovations that at the beginning
of the XX century broke away from traditions and set free expression, now
are conformities, textures, self-celebrating acronyms that empty it of any
sense. All of this has made the public wary of contemporary art. The market
of art is, as a matter of fact, extremly distorted and thus inefficient.
On the other hand the obsessive
association with money, with astronomical figures that are awarded to the
artist's works, perverts and degrades the meaning of art. It is not the money
itself that makes this impious act, it is necessary. Who is writing does
not take the object as criminal. The criminal is subjective. Nowadays art
is more exploited than ever.
Those is in contact with art often
cares about monetary value that it could have in the future, and do not consider
it with respect of someone who would like to understand and so to consume
it. Art deafened from the Tower cannot be consumed but instead becames an
investment, and in that sense it immobilizes itself.
Art, this screaming bedlam, ends
in the hands of managerial apparatus that impose styles and values. Not even
politics has power over art. Art is degraded into matter and its abstract
values are only represented as economic values. Art was represented and it
can be represented in the form of graph like any other share in the stock
market. Do you remember the film "Dead Poets Society"? An insensitive professor
was presuming to explain poetry putting it between abscissa and ordinate.
This is what today they are doing to art: to paint and sculpture.
What institutions can do?
If, as I said, they are not into
the power of private sponsors, they are often in the focused on the short
term and so they have lost the fundamental value: to be farsighted.
In conclusion we can say today
what art is it? Well we can give two contrasting answers:
1) art is drowned into noise and
it remains only arrogance;
2) art is an headlong underground
river that we have to know how to reach and often what we see remains only