Art. Past or Present?


"Virgin Mother" by Damien Hirst

Art; some say it is at best a set of compromises. Perhaps they are right, when we look at the world around us with all our different senses. Can an artist ever really manage to capture the essence of what his trying to portray? Well, some seem to come closer than others, but it is indeed a debatable subject. People's tastes, or rather preferences, vary greatly, and what one person finds interesting, another will find extremely tedious. If however, a piece of art brings an element of joy or realisation to one person, then it has of course earnt its place in the world.

A rethink into the use of art was necessary after the arrival of the camera. It's main use was as a record to illustrate the way of life, and perhaps in some instances to leave one's mark. However with the coming of photography in the early nineteen hundreds, art moved into a different sphere. necessary to illustrate anger, love, hate, greed, caring, lust and many other emotions that remain not easily seen. Cartoonists would for example exaggerate certain features of a person's personality to make them look funny or scary. It is fascinating to look at old watercolour paintings and watercolours by artists for example John Constable, and imagine the world as it must have been in those times, with the horse and cart trundling along a dusty unmade track on its way home... in a time when tarmac roads did not exist, and the only noise was that of the rumbling of the cart and the singing of the birds. It may portray a physically hard life as a farmer, or an extravagant overindulgent life of an aristocrat, in the most subtle ways.

Modern art tends to place a lot of emphasis at least at present, on an instant 'reaction', a display of emotion 'shock'.. Trying to 'jolt' the viewer into new way of seeing...

Artists such as Damien Hirst are at the forefront of such art. It is undoubtedly marketing at its finest... there are many simply enjoy the work for one of many reasons. The fact that his works have been sold for many millions of pounds; eg. the animals cut in half and preserved in a container of formaldehyde, may leave one wondering...

So what is art, and what is its purpose? Could it be to allow the world to see in another way that is not of their normal day to day view, or simply to give pleasure. Was Professor Timothy Leary one of the great true artists, when he advised the world that a change of perception was necessary in order to see the world in new and fulfilling light. In comparison to some winners of the Turner prize it is indeed a debatable subject.

Where is the joining link between money and art? Is it that art cannot really be priced, and therefore open to the choice and speculation of others. Certainly some of the great masters, Van Gogh, Lowry lived their lives in relative poverty, and had little material concern.

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