FINE ART EXPLAINED

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Art in historical times has always been a symptom of power. Art is co-emergent with power—like a runny nose is with a cold—The powerful need to possess and display objects that will show their power to the weak. And art’s pretty good for that.

Before civilization, the objects that in the future will be called art were thought to be to good to have around as they were thought to ensure successful hunts, fertility and so on. For everyone. But after, these objects’ (now called art) primary purpose became to show who’s got power to everyone else who doesn’t.

So what objects are art? It is what powerful people says is art. Its thereby a symbol as well as a symptom. And a tautology: art declares power and power declares art.

So what has art been? It’s been stone statues for most of civilization. Then a thousand years of mosaic ceilings and stained glass windows. Painting on canvases and panels became popular in the last several centuries and in the last hundred years just about anything can be declared art.

The professionally wise have said they have tried to make sense of this, but we outside of their circle see nothing wise or sensible coming from them. We let them prattle on to each other and no one else. Note: I still enjoy reading these people’s musings as long as they don’t invent words and get to their points quickly.

The answer to the question “what is art?” seems simple enough: If it’s in a gallery, a museum, or even just in a frame on your wall, its art. If you are powerful enough, that is. And regarding the space over your couch I suspect you are. But elsewhere? I doubt it. So, regarding your art in your space, you are just as powerful as the people who buy and sell those insanely expensive, very bizarre objects that are called “fine” art as well as those who pay kings’ ransoms for ego trips in gilded frames. But don’t get too excited, you are still powerless in the real world.

The drawing above is about all this. I may have done something like the left panel before, but did I post it? who knows. The self-reflexive triptych shows an idly rich couple using art as a status (power) symbol. The substance of object doesn’t matter to them as long as the consensus is that it is art. Although they, sometimes, in moments of revealing confusion, admit that it’s just an investment; an inscrutable thing bought low and sold high.

On the left is what has passed for fine art in recent times—I kid you not, google Christopher Wool. The center is what will soon enough be what the very rich hang on their walls—if they know what’s good for them. And on the right is what some conceptual artist/entrepreneur will no doubt be hawking—when the revolution is over—to the same rich couple who will, no doubt, still be in the market.

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