Thoughts on being in the Art World Part 1 - Passion for Art
|The writer with an Alexander Calder at SFMOMA|
|The writer with Kiki Snith's "The Guardian" at SFMOMA|
As the gallery season begins and I myself start curating again, I decided to pause for a moment to reflect on some observations that I have made since getting involved in the art world. I realized that I have been attending gallery openings and being connected with the art world for over 10 years, and writing about art on this blog since 2008. So I wanted to share with you, the reader, how to get involved and contribute to the dialog of the art world. I will tell you that since I began, there is never a dull day. I discover new art and artists out there with vision and beauty. I love to see Art that engages and challenges the assumptions that you, I and everyone lives with everyday. This post will be the first in an ongoing series where I explore aspects of the art scene, the art world and how you can be a part of something exciting and ever changing.
Have Passion for the Art and Be Open
I start with the obvious, because you need a passion for art in order to begin your journey. However obvious, it is not easy. Having a passion means being open to new forms of the visual, and being able to look at something you may not understand or comprehend. This is particularly true when it comes to contemporary art. Many appreciators of art can admire and in fact love art from the past. Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, etc are movements that provide depth of knowledge and visual pleasure. Contemporary art can be challenging. You often hear the complaints, "I can do that!" My retort is "No you can't, and you never will." So Contemporary art is strange and beautiful. Can someone have passion for both old master and contemporary art? Absolutely. It comes with being enthusiastic and a willingness to be open to the new and old.
Paintings from the Renaissance can broaden an understanding of Classical literature, religion, and philosophy. Recently, The New York Times discussed the relationship between contemporary art and the art of the past by asking "Can the Old Masters Be Relevant Again?" The article discusses the shift of focus from old masters to contemporary art in both graduate programs and museums. However, institutions and contemporary artists are bridging the gap. Thomas P. Campbell, the director and chief executive of the Met stated "When you hear contemporary artists talking with passion about the genius of old masters — that, we assume, will help open up the historical fields to new audiences, to understand that all art was once contemporary."
Passion for art can bridge the differences that may seem impossible to connect. Alfred H. Barr, the founder of the Museum of Modern Art, for his first exhibition showed the works of Cezanne, Gaugain, Seurat and Van Gogh. All four artists had nothing in common. Because Barr had such a passion, he was able to make the connections to become a great curator and share that love with those who sought a new visual experience. Jerry Saltz spoke of the Tyranny of Art History not as a rejection of the art history spoken about above, but to allow passion to connect art from all over and learn to accept that which is considered "outside," and that which is considered contradictory. "It's beyond time for a new generation of art historians not only to open up the system and let art be the garden that it is, home to exotic blooms of known and unknown phenomena. It's time to work against this system." Let an open mind and a passion be the guide to your art world endeavor. There is nothing wrong about going to a gallery exhibiting "low brow" Pop Surrealism and next going to a gallery showing Richard Serra. To the art lover with passion, you can always make the connections between the old and the new, and the high and low.