Where Are the Artists?

Added on by PS Cat02.

I like art. I like looking at it and I like drawing too. But something occurred to me yesterday when Bunny, Mimi, and I were talking about art. They were asking me who my favorite artists are. I named a few but they hadn't heard of any of them. They know some artists - Giotto, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Vermeer, van Gogh, Degas, etc. But no one who doesn't fall into the 'dead white men' category. Isn't that interesting? They both read the newspaper every day but can't name even one artist who is alive and practicing art right now.

Which started me to wondering: In today's society, are artists irrelevant? I mean, to me, maybe because I like art and I try to go out of my way to read about it whenever possible, I would say "Of course artists are relevant!". But to be realistic I think that may be an extreme minority position these days. Imagine: You ask a thousand random Americans to name five contemporary artists. Artists from the U.S. or from anywhere else in the world, I don't care. I doubt more than 1% of them would be able to name even five. Some people might have a hard time coming up with even one! If no one knows you exist then it becomes kinda difficult to argue that you're making any kind of impact on society.

Art is one of those things, like 'education' or 'strong families', that nearly everybody automatically will say is good, important, and so on. Very few people are going to say "Art is bad. Destroy all art." Even people who don't like art themselves will probably try to soften the tone by saying something like "Well I'm not really into art myself, but I guess it's important...". Something like that. But if it's so good or important, then how come nobody cares enough to know something about it?

Another weird thing: When I say 'art', I think most people automatically assume I mean 'visual art' (painting, drawing, sculpture, etc.) - not the literary arts, not film, not theater, not dance, and so on. So the term 'art' is most powerfully connected to the visual arts; it's not like saying 'the arts', which I think then implies the inclusion of all the different arts, right? So why then, of all the arts, contemporary visual art is possibly the most off-the-radar screen with the general public? I mean, most people can name at least a few current writers, at least a few filmmakers, TONS of actors I'm sure... but no visual artists. Okay, I just realized - no one cares about dance either. Unless it's in a movie like Flashdance or Save the Last Dance or whatevers.

I'm not saying that Raphael, Degas, Vermeer, et. al. aren't worth looking at, I'm just wondering why people don't care enough about the visual arts to go check out what's going on right now. Isn't there anybody out there doing something important?

~ pinky


[ Bunny: This is one of your more obtuse posts so far. Yeah, art is dead to the masses. But that's 'high art'. Popular visual art is bigger than ever. It's advertisements, comic books, pictures on t-shirts. You're comparing high art with low art, and across different moments in history. What about all the independent and avant-garde filmmakers who are making films nowadays - you think most people even know who they are? Nope. So not a fair comparison. Corporations (and their respective design/PR departments) have replaced the individual artist. And guess what - I didn't read any of your art books to figure that out. ]