Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Good Art is Costing America Jobs

An artist in Miami is purported to have smashed a $1M vase by dissident artist Ai Weiwei. I’ve written at this blog before about Weiwei and the profound impact his exhibit at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC had on me.

The convoluted reasoning behind this act of vandalism—was that the PAMM (Perez Arts Museum Miami) didn’t exhibit local artists.

Hmmm . . . okay. So you decide to destroy someone else’s work?
And, I can hardly believe they haven’t once shown local art.
And, what is local art?

Would that be an artist from Miami, or someone from Florida, or simply an American?
And, what if it were a Guatemalan, raised in Nebraska, now living in Miami—would that be good enough?

Art has been a global commodity for a long time. The Vikings were always raiding other cultures and bringing back artifacts. Napoleon stole the horses from San Marco in Venice and before that the Venetians stole them from the Byzantines when they sacked Constantinople. And, before that, no one is sure of their origins. Possibly Roman, possibly Hellenic. Okay—so do the Greeks get them back?? They reside now in Venice with duplicates outside the Louvre in Paris.

Finally—what difference does it make?
Does this guy think because the PAMM is showing Weiwei that that exhibit edged out his own work? He is described as someone well-known in the area, having worked the art fair circuit. Really. It’s hard to believe that an artist working today would hold a grudge against Van Gogh because his work is hanging at the Louvre while his/her stuff is still getting a toehold in the contemporary art world.

The public decides what is great art.

I am not drawn to a work because the artist happens to be from Chicago, Uptown, or even from down the street, maybe next door—but because something intrinsic to it speaks to me. Local sometimes helps when people of similar background have one or two things in common—especially if that is reflected in the piece. Therefore, Korean pottery might have more to say to a native Korean who recognizes the glazes and the subject matter or the importance of the lotus blossom. Nevertheless, I also love the smooth lines and subtle colors—and just how perfect it looks, without identifying as Korean.

Anyway his argument holds no water. And, now the same can be said for the vase.

From NPR quotes the NY Times saying that Camerino alleges he didn't know the vase was valued at $1 million. “I feel so sorry about it, for sure.” But, Camerino said, “if you saw the vases on display and the way they were painted, there was no way one would think the artist had painted over an ancient artifact. Instead I thought it was a common clay pot like you would find at Home Depot, frankly.”

Isn’t this what we all secretly think? Sheesh.

Check out my blog on Weiwei.

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