Nicola Eremita

first dissertation:
what art is

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 the question:

"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 of control?

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 transformations.

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 clay.

Nicola Eremita

dissertations on art

first dissertation:
what art is
second dissertation:
the Mario Eremita's creative strength
third dissertation:
contemporary art, a sick and defeated sector
fourth dissertation:
new possible settings for contemporary art
fifth dissertation:
art, science and beauty
sixth dissertation:
Hymn to Life, great sculpture by Master Mario Eremita
seventh dissertation:
the culture of knowdlege, the culture of to be, the culture of not-membership
eighth dissertation:
art speaking
ninth dissertation:
on merit and not-merit; on talent and not-talent; on art and not-arte
tenth dissertation:
the group exhibition Biennale di Venezia

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