Friday, August 29, 2008

My Four Year Old could do that!

I have been practicing discussing my work in front of small audiences to prepare for the "big shooew" in January as part my required graduate presentation.

It's tough to give an artist talk even in front of a small group that admits it doesn't know much about art. Of course, I brought in my most current and challenging work to show and discuss.

The piece I brought in to discuss is shown below and is titled "Fern". I went through the whole thing about my work having both abstract and representational qualities, and how I am interested in expressing feeling and inner thought through color and gesture and that abstraction has a visual language and can explore complex thoughts and feelings and this is what I was trying to do, yahdah, yahdah. I did OK and most people seemed to enjoy the talk.

One of the comments made after the presentation was something to the effect...I don't care much for abstract art and think that "my four year old could do that..."

Oh, God the old "my four year old can do that" comment! I totally didn't expect it. I was surprised how calm I felt in addressing that comment as the question and answer part of the talk wore on. I said, "well, yes... your four year old CAN do this, but your four year old does not have the conceptual capacity to even THINK about doing this. I can't paint like a child, a child paints like a child and an adult paints like an adult.

I realized that people are still really confused about abstract art and some people hate being confused. And some really dislike abstract art. They feel like they are being conned...Gee, I wonder why they feel that way? I explained that there is a visual language to abstract art and that it is something you can learn.

Abstract art, is a challenge and in order to understand it, an open mind is a prerequisite. Being comfortable with ambiguity helps, too. Because my work walks the line between abstraction and representation, I realized I am going to get criticized because it isn't representational enough and because it isn't abstract enough.

You can't please everyone, so I'm pleasing myself. Oh, and another thing a four year old can't do is write an artist statement and give a talk on the conceptual aspects of their work. What do you say when someone says..."my four year can do that? Hey, you abstract artists out there what would you say... without resorting to obscenity? I'd love to hear it.


Lynda Schlosberg said...

I don't know. Perhaps I'd mention Jackson Pollock, since so many people have said that about his work...and point out that he was an incredible pioneer because he was the FIRST artist to take his canvas and put it on the floor. He changed the perspective of the viewer -- we take it for granted today, but up until that point, ALL artists worked vertically. I could go on....

I also like (and have used) a passage in the book "Pictures of Nothing" by Kirk Varnedoe where he says something like, abstract art is like fine wine. To fully understand and appreciate it, you need to educate yourself on its history and principles.

Rebecca Moran said...

"Who the *%$&% is Jackson Pollock" is this great documentary on a someone who found an original Jackson Pollack and their trials and tribulations going through the "art world" to get it authenticated.

Anyway,this person would not known who JP was.What makes the most sense to me is abstraction, is a visual language and fluency is through the eyes, percecption, mind.