Art and Entitlement.
It is my opinion that artistic entitlement has led modern art has become utterly deskilled. It has been reduced to actually selling lack of skill, one single banal idea at a time.
Is entitlement as sufficient motivation for a work of fine art?
Many “modern fine artists” seem to have given up the need to acquire skills or ideas in a world where ideas are so freely available and traded in followers. Quite a few of them market their work based simply on entitlement. They suffer for their work, or they represent a minority interest or group which is being or has been persecuted somewhere else. They’re selling “a piece of themselves”.
Entitlement is killing fine art
There was a time when the artists struggle was relevant to the pieces sold. It was part of the idea that the artist was pushing the boundaries of what could be done and what could be published. But that time is over with the advent of the internet. Believe me, you can find anything on the internet. the boundaries have well and truly moved.
If we fail to consider what is going on in the virtual, if we fail to take into account digital media and artificial intelligence, then we will be replaced. Fine art will wither and die.
The artist an image factory. The image can be 2 D or 3 D, or it can be immersive. But a work of art should consider the availability of image in the digital world, the possibilities of 3 D printing, the use of VR.
Art and Meaning
The user has become extremely sophisticated at decoding images. They are surrounded by images. Every news site has a set of news photographs carrying infinitely more meaning and content than distorted pieces of plastic and coloured Styrofoam which often pass for art.
The black painting has been done.
So has the Blue Screen.
There is so little left to say that fine art has almost disappeared.
What this kind of art does is makes every single internet user feel that they can reproduce the most expensive piece of art and perhaps that is a good thing.
What is the risk of continuing like this?
The danger is that fine art ceases to exist. the user will give up on art altogether and format their own images, store them on social media and display them on giant static electronic screens or holographs. Perhaps this is correct. After all, art is part of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and therefore we are all entitled to consider ourselves artists. I like that idea. But I still think that a fine artist has a place in society.
Fine Art in a Digital Age
I think fine art still exists, but it has to find itself and go back to its roots. That does not mean Western Art by the way, but all art. We need to study it all and check how it affects us as artists. What have we got to offer this long standing artistic paradigm?
Then we can rethink again. What is the role of the fine artist in society? What have we got to offer? Who are we? And why are we relevant?
That’s what I’m trying to do anyway.
Art and Entitlement – risk factors for the Fine Artist
There are a huge number of really angry people out there in the virtual. They feel entitled to parts of the world which they have staked out as their own and they’re on a mission to destroy anyone who encroaches on a world they see as uniquely their own. They’ve staked out territory in the virtual and they colonising it. They are quite prepared to stalk people in their private moments and to out them for throwaway comments or private thoughts which are nothing to do with their role or public persona. In fact they will use anything to defend wha they perceive their virtual territory including threats of physical violence.
This has had a weird effect on modern fine art, but it’s not unique to art.
There are multiple communities out in the virtual each of them fighting for space. I will pick out only a few.
The POC community
There is this idea that only people of colour are permitted to comment on the black experience or to depict it. Only they are allowed to describe what they see. Can you see how worrying this is? It is illogical for an artist to be a part of a multicultural community but be forbidden to depict what they see.
Here is the black Madonna
The moment of the annunciation.
Some people think I do not have the “right” to paint them.
The LGBT Community
It seems that only the LGBT community can describe LGBT themes when it comes to art. This is absurd for the same reason. If we want inclusion, then we have to include the artist, who, as an outsider sees the world through their own eyes. We cannot exclude in the name of inclusion. It’s nonsense.
Or this series which depicts modern “saints”, people I consider to be one of the modern icons of today.
Yes, this female baseball player is gay, but that does not define her, she is strong and beautiful and much admired. But the number of times I have been told I cannot paint such subjects by gay people on the net! Alarming. I am trying to show the new woman, strong and beautiful, but I cannot, because I I have no right?
Surely as an artist I can comment on anything. It is up to the buyer the user, the virtual surfer, to choose whether they wish to buy it or not. There’s nothing controversial here except the fact that people who demand inclusion want to exclude me.
The Muslim Community
The thorny subject of religion is a particularly dangerous one. Woe betides the artist who comments or paints religious themes in any way which can be considered derogative (except for Christianity which has always preached tolerance and now has to live up to its name and be tolerant).
Take the one I called “Two Houses, both Alike in Dignity” (featured image above). It is about children of wealthy individuals from opposing religious and cultural backgrounds meeting and falling in love, a subject which Shakespeare covered with impunity. This painting is considered controversial!
I have also painted several pictures of the difficulties of Muslim women. You know what? I actually do not dare to publish them on the internet. I am afraid. I believe that I truly would be in danger of my life if I criticised a powerful focus group. How is the Artist Affected by this?
Negative Effect of art and Entitlement
The whole concept of art and entitlement has had a hugely negative effect on art. It has made art meaningless. I don’t think there has been an age where an artist has been so restricted and censored outside the Middle Ages and dictatorships. The artist is left such a narrow sphere of what is permitted that they have almost become image propagandists. Look at the Book of Kells where the artist was contorted into knots of extreme minuscule detail and forced into illustrating only religious themes. In many ways, I can really relate to that today and I often reference it in my work.