Tuesday, 17 March 2015

The Art Crowd Elite, Old Dreams & A Lost Idea

 (C) aRTomens 2015

...damn! I had an idea five minutes ago and now I can't remember it...it was a good one too...

Painters, poets, composers, all completely marginal, divorced from any mass audience, a small lumpen among petty bourgeois professionals, rationalising their marginality by entertaining each other with the elitist theories they have been brought up on and by their boundless capacity for make-believe.' - John Pitnam Weber, 1971

...s'true, ennit? But there are art worlds within art worlds within etc, aren't there? The real 'elite' (you know 'em), the wannabe elite, the pedestrian professionals (saw a woman on telly last night who painted replicas of Modigliani and others, but precisely, down to the correct paint etc. She could have been a conceptual artist, but she wasn't, 'cause she was on The One Show, so she just copied...), successful Etsy and other online shop sellers of prints, Sunday painters. From the first in that list to the last, theoretical concerns and how to express them disappear.

Having theories, or being able to describe their work in Artspeak, is what wannabees and Be's have to do, so I hear, unless...perhaps it's post-modern to adopt a Warholian shrug instead, which is easier and probably more honest. I dunno, I ain't a Fine Artist, but if I was, that's what I'd do.

Weber's notion of 'elitist theories' makes sense. Internalised, marginalised (wilfully?), the art crowd detached from any 'mass audience' will spawn it's own speak, much like Hipsters of old, except they were, some of them, from the masses anyway, rather than being created in ivory towers by god-like beings and sprinkled with Special stardust, like the art crowd.

These days artists needn't be divorced from a mass audience, of course, but most still are. They can put work on the internet and pretend/prey/dream that The World looks on in amazement...but it doesn't buy...unless the work's beautiful...in which case they have a chance, but only as much of a chance as they create by desperately hyping themselves everywhere and spending half their time connecting, networking, following and liking what others do...and having lots of internet 'friends'...then they stand a chance.

I felt divorced from the mass audience the minute I started writing/drawing...well, I was a kid...but when I got older I realised that I wasn't going to be any kind of big success. The masses were beyond me anyway...somewhere else, in the world around me, but feeling like a stranger in a strange land the world never felt like mine. Poor me. I know.

Some deliberately isolate themselves, as Weber suggests, whilst others feel isolated anyway, despite being proles, therefore lumpen, therefore supposedly in tune with the rest of the mob. The difference between chosen isolationism from notions of elitism and affirming differences unashamedly may be marginal, but it's real. Ironically, I've been called a snob many times. It's not a label I welcome. I do laugh, though. It's some people's way of pecking at you to try and put you in your place, I suppose.

Unlike Weber's art crowd, however, where I'm from, make-believe was never an option. Reality smacked me in the face too often. I'd dream at school, but that was all. Dream of what, as I stared out the window, I can't recall. Like that good idea I had this afternoon, the dreams long since disappeared. Still, I'm not complaining. At least I don't have to try thinking up any elitist theories about pictures I make...

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