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reverent forums => Art-Books-Music => Topic started by: BeyondGood&Evil on July 22, 2007, 01:24:54 AM

Title: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
Post by: BeyondGood&Evil on July 22, 2007, 01:24:54 AM
Precision.

In every other field in which humans compete, precision is key to success. Those who can aim a basketball more precisely or maneuver more precisely, or precisely fit more transistors onto a silicon wafer will succeed. There is no market for the lower end of precision, except with a price to match it. It follows that, in a free art market, the art requiring the least precision would cost the least, and if it doesn't, it is not a free market, but one that is manipulated behind the scenes.

Precision leads to higher approximations of reality, to higher order, less chaos. Never has humanity benefitted from having a less precise grasp of reality vs. more precision.

A monkey, elephant or toddler rank very low in artistic precision, and their artistic output from paintbrushes or fingers merely confirms this fact. Some works of modern art, such as that of Cy Twombly, Franz Kline or Jackson Pollock, are indistinguishable from the creative output of an animal, therefore for all practical purposes, their creativity is below the lowest of human standards.

Modern art is degeneration, devolution, deconstructing high standards in order to weaken the foundation of our high-tech, prosperous society. If we disregard the artificial media propping of modern art, children who grow up thinking they only have to match it to be famous and successful will not ever have the motive to achieve actual levels of artistic competency that are required of every art-related occupation.
Title: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
Post by: Mikhail Simkin on July 22, 2007, 05:28:05 PM
Your opponents can argue that there are many pictures painted with high precision that are boring to look at.

Why art is chosen to weaken the foundations of our high-tech society? Can it achive such a goal? Technology does not depend on modern art.
Title: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
Post by: BeyondGood&Evil on July 23, 2007, 02:12:50 AM
Quote
Your opponents can argue that there are many pictures painted with high precision that are boring to look at.


And those boring paintings will naturally not get much attention. I would consider such an argument as if the opponent is defending a square wheel because some circular wheels are ugly.

The ugly circular wheel can be improved, since its underlying foundation is functional. The square wheel has no defense. Art, and all the other higher level talents that don't tangibly aid in survival, are developed only on a foundation of accumulated wealth. Without spare time, which comes after using precise-thinking to invent methods to maximize production (and minimize required time), art would never have been created.

Any behavior that if widely practiced would tend to breakdown the foundation on which its existence depends, is unsustainable, and therefore opposes the natural order. Children who are pushed to improve their ability to recreate reality from raw materials with their hands, can then more easily manipulate their world when adults.

The modern art world sets the bar of artistic ability as if the real world were the special olympics, where all you have to do is run in place (or drip on a canvas) and people will cheer and applaud. Kids who grow up and realize the bar is set at more Olympian heights will be NEUTERED competition for those who set the bar high for their children by insulating them from the laziness-inducing effects of what is effectively art affirmative action.

Art represents the future of a society, what we value and enjoy and consider representative of our mindset. A nation on its way up might very well value artistic precision, a symbol of mental rationality, which is a requirement for future prosperity, while a nation being gutted might appear to value artistic chaos and extreme subjectivity, a symbol of individual uniqueness and lack of any cultural unity.
Title: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
Post by: Mikhail Simkin on July 26, 2007, 04:40:07 PM
Quote from: BeyondGood&Evil
And those boring paintings will naturally not get much attention. I would consider such an argument as if the opponent is defending a square wheel because some circular wheels are ugly.
Sometimes one needs to distort the circular shape of the wheel by installing chains for better performance on snow. Besides, your opponents can argue that the true progress is not achived by re-inventing wheel, but by inventing new modes of transportation, such as airplanes.

Quote from: BeyondGood&Evil
The modern art world sets the bar of artistic ability as if the real world were the special olympics, where all you have to do is run in place (or drip on a canvas) and people will cheer and applaud. Kids who grow up and realize the bar is set at more Olympian heights will be NEUTERED competition for those who set the bar high for their children by insulating them from the laziness-inducing effects of what is effectively art affirmative action.
I already used a similar argument (http://reverent.org/forum/index.php?topic=223.o) in this forum.

Quote from: BeyondGood&Evil
In every other field of human experience, actual superior talent is required to rise to the top.
Do you feel quite sure about that? The results of other quizzes (http://reverent.org/quizzes.html), which advance similar ideas into the fields of literature  and musical science are the same.
Title: Re: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
Post by: johnheartfield on February 10, 2008, 09:08:18 AM
A comparison of some of the statements here with Nazi (Rosenberg and Degenerate Art exhibition texts for example), Stalinist (Lukacs for example) and various other anti-modernist (Sedlmayr for example) statements on art would be interesting. I wonder how well people could distinguish between them.

Don't get me wrong, I agree that a great deal of Modernist art boils down to a confidence game and another large portion of it to a specialist field that has no value for uninitiated viewers. However, to equate precision in science with exact realism in art misses the point. First of all, good science establishes and investigates rules for the analysis of raw data and doesn't merely produce formless masses of information. Great art is also an analysis of visual experience to get at rules and patterns. Extreme realism requires natural ability and devoted training, but it generally doesn't require much intelligence.

The fact that a huge number of artists turn this triad on its head and produce crap because they only recognize the value of intelligence, novelty and ideas doesn't take anything away from Matisse's or Cézanne's paintings. These are still fascinating paintings and not because they are unrealistic, but because there is more in them than a simple attempt to repeat surface appearances. And it certainly doesn't take anything away from Raphael's painting that every art-school mediocrity of the nineteenth century painted more realistically than him. The same goes for Caravaggio or Rembrandt whose paintings are full of embarassing technical mistakes that are absolutely irrelevant to the quality and interest of the works in question.

And with the sports metaphor: What made Michael Jordan one of the greatest basketball players of all time or Barry Sanders one of the most fascinating football players of all time was not their field goal percentage or average yards per carry. What makes them the best is that they were fascinating to watch and it was a lot more than raw physical skill and technical experience - even though it was that, too.

P.S.: I know Hitler was an infamously bad artist and I'm not familiar with his work, but I'd guess the quiz-organizer is being unfair to him in the quiz on masters and unknowns. No idiot in the world with a hint of education would compose the second picture the way it looks in the quiz. I assume it's been cropped badly. And I also thought the Churchill paintings were surprisingly good. The repetition of the nuns in the second picture wasn't a stroke of genius, but it's a great start.
Title: Re: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
Post by: Mikhail Simkin on February 10, 2008, 04:09:27 PM
A comparison of some of the statements here with Nazi (Rosenberg and Degenerate Art exhibition texts for example) ... I wonder how well people could distinguish between them.
What a powerful argument: reductio ad rosenbergem. So that if Dr. Rosenberg ate with fork and spoon then we should eat with hands.

Historically,  Max Nordau as early as 1892 described the modern  artists as degenerates in his book Entartung (http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8&location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2FDegeneration-Max-Nordau%2Fdp%2F0803283679%2F&tag=reverentorg-20&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=9325).

(http://reverent.org/Images/amazon/nordau_degeneration.jpg) (http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8&location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2FDegeneration-Max-Nordau%2Fdp%2F0803283679%2F&tag=reverentorg-20&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=9325)

Great art is also an analysis of visual experience to get at rules and patterns. Extreme realism requires natural ability and devoted training, but it generally doesn't require much intelligence ... These are still fascinating paintings and not because they are unrealistic, but because there is more in them than a simple attempt to repeat surface appearances.
I understand that there is more to art than depicting reality. It is legitimate to produce conceptual, symbolic or abstract paintings. However the work of the so-called abstract artists is hard to tell from ape paintings. But apes are not capable of abstraction. Therefore what is called "abstract art" is in truth apestract art and, as such, degenerate.
Title: Re: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
Post by: Joel on February 10, 2008, 06:50:29 PM
"However the work of the so-called abstract artists is hard to tell from ape paintings."

For whom? Certainly not for people whose eyes are trained to recognize patterns and order in composition. I don't have a background in the arts but I do have a fairly visual eye based on work in film. It was obvious right away to me which paintings could not have been done by apes (where I erred was in thinking two of the "better" ape paintings, the ones more pleasing to the eye, were somewhat sloppy abstract works that you'd stuck in to trick the quiz-taker...it was my first quiz on your site, so I didn't really know your style).

You could hold up a dense scientific essay next to a page of gibberish and I might not know the difference. This just means that I'm ignorant when it comes to science. Just as some people are ignorant about aesthetics. I don't see why this is so hard to believe.

I've noticed a pattern while taking your tests. I do pretty well on the tests regarding "true" vs. "fake" i.e. comparing works that were created with some intelligence and works which weren't (whether by you, an ape, or a bad computer translation). I didn't do as well when asked to judge quality. Poetry vs. parody (though the parody was created without seriousness, it doesn't seem to have been created without intelligence), famous vs. non-famous artists, famous vs. non-famous musicians, Dickens vs. the other dude etc. This tells me that taste is subjective but that there are objective qualities to arts which make them "true" or "real" works as opposed to something created by accident (and I include your works which seem to have just been jotted off). Not that it makes them good, mind you. That's another question and one I think would be more interesting for you to examine.
Title: Re: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
Post by: Mikhail Simkin on February 10, 2008, 07:34:17 PM
For whom? Certainly not for people whose eyes are trained to recognize patterns and order in composition.
Here is  an article which describes how noted art critic was fooled by a monkey painting (http://ecclesiastes911.net/story/pierre_brassau.html). I know another such case which happened in late 2005 (http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog/2006/01/chimp-art.html). You may wonder: why I am citing a blog and not the  newspaper article? The Australian article, which is still linked in the blog, misteriously dissappeared. I managed to read it though when that blog entry first appeared and saved a copy on my computer. I also found blog links to the original Bild Zeitung article which also went down the memory hole.

Thus, the experts can't tell an abstractionist from an ape. And the knowledge about it is actively suppressed.
Title: Re: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
Post by: Joel on February 10, 2008, 08:29:37 PM
No, ONE expert was "fooled by a monkey painting." There are plenty of other people who weren't. Or who, like me, weren't sure about a couple of the monkey paintings but knew for sure which ones a human being did. If you had an example an art critic who thought a human-created work was created by a monkey, that would perhaps be more revealing and address my point, though it would still be just one example contradicted by others. You are cherry-picking the examples you want to suit your hypothesis. I think some people can tell the difference, and some can't. It's not either/or. But the fact that anybody sees a difference means a) they are lying, or b) there really are differences. People have explained them on this board. The way you've constructed your house of cards, one counterexample sets it falling down (unless you really believe that majority opinion is the best arbiter of value -- not a very scientific position). I think you're more interested in proving your own biases "correct" than teasing out complex truths so I'll leave you be for now. Enjoyable website, though, and keep up the good work on that front. I'll enjoy taking future tests even if I don't interpret them the way you do.
Title: Re: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
Post by: Mikhail Simkin on February 10, 2008, 09:45:43 PM
No, ONE expert was "fooled by a monkey painting."

My previous post describes  TWO cases, not ONE. The second I found only because the blogger also linked to one of my quizzes. Otherwise I would not have known that story. I made Google searches for ape's name and found another blog (http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/hoax/weblog/permalink/monkey_art_fools_expert/) which in addition mentioned the first story. This is how I learned about. Everything happened by chance. I suspect that there were plenty of such stories.

There are plenty of other people who weren't. Or who, like me, weren't sure about a couple of the monkey paintings but knew for sure which ones a human being did.

You had the advantage of knowing that some of them were by apes. Otherwise you might well have been duped like Dr. Schneider.

You are cherry-picking the examples you want to suit your hypothesis.

Nay. I rescue from the memory hole all that I can.

The way you've constructed your house of cards, one counterexample sets it falling down

The house of cards was constructed by the artistic establishment. Just one example of an expert mistaking ape for art is enough to destroy it, provided, of course, that it is widely known.
Title: Re: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
Post by: paulherman on February 24, 2008, 05:46:17 AM
I think the more relevant question here, & the one that must be defined before tackling 'criteria for comparing art skills' is: What is art? (Or is the subject really: An objective criteria for PAINTING skills?)
Title: Re: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
Post by: Mikhail Simkin on February 24, 2008, 06:47:25 PM
Precision was important in the past, before the invention of photography. There was also a lot more work for artists. Police employed them to paint mugshots of criminals. Explorer ships carried them to paint discovered lands and new species of animals. The portraits of relatives had to be done by artists.

Today all of the above can be easily done with a camera. What is left to artists is to produce nicely looking pictures for decoration. They should be nicer than photographs. One way to accomplish this is to paint imaginary worlds, like Kinkade does. Precision is not important in such work.

However one still can define an objective criteria: what percentage of people can do this? The results of my "True art, or fake?" quiz show that for abstract art the figure is 100%.
Title: Re: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
Post by: Piltdown Man on August 28, 2008, 03:45:56 AM
My two-hour writing session was timed out- essay lost!

a highlight:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luminism_(American_art_style)

check these 19th-century artists out, and the Hudson River school and it is obvious that what
is truly degenerate in an apples-apples rather than apples-oranges sense is contemporary
"realistic" painting.

One reason why say, Didion for example bothers to criticize Kinkade at all is that unlike the vast
majority of purportedly similar artists, he actually is skilled and not doing a third-rate fifth-hand
knock-off of 19th century popular painting. Compare also (in real life, not photos), Dali's brushwork, modelling and light to Vermeer's (a comparison Dali insisted upon himself). That's also degenerate- second rate Vermeer brush skills.

Of course it can be argued that deliberately moving into an apples-oranges situation is just a cop-out.
After all, Pollock's mom could hardly say dear, Da Vinci's splatter paintings are so much better than yours.

Sadly I don't have time to rewrite my comments on drawing skill and "realism" and so on. Maybe some other time

-Piltdown Man

Title: Re: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
Post by: Mikhail Simkin on August 29, 2008, 09:56:38 PM
what is truly degenerate in an apples-apples rather than apples-oranges sense is contemporary "realistic" painting.
What do you mean by that? The only meaning I can supply to this is that realistic art after invention of photography is not really neaded. So it looks a bit patalogical when people paint portraits or landscapes. There is some room left for realistic painting still. Like historical scenes or book illustrations. Check, for example, this realistic painting. This scene certainly could not be photographed.

(http://reverent.org/Images/emblem.jpg)
 
By the way, do you understand it. It is often argued that people can't grasp the meaning of advanced modern art due to their limited intellectual capacity. In reality, however, experts can't tell masterpieces of modern art from ridiculous parodies. This indicates that in truth any meaning is absent from moder art. In contrast, the above realistic painting does  have a clear and concise meaning.
Title: Re: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
Post by: Piltdown Man on August 29, 2008, 11:37:33 PM
what is truly degenerate in an apples-apples rather than apples-oranges sense is contemporary "realistic" painting.
What do you mean by that? The only meaning I can supply to this is that realistic art after invention of photography is not really neaded. So it looks a bit patalogical when people paint portraits or landscapes. There is some room left for realistic painting still. Like historical scenes or book illustrations.

What I mean is, if we compare landscapes or beaucolic settings or mother-and-child kinds of pictures,
and what is chocolate-box art, of the 19th century to the same kinds of pictures in the 20th century and this century, it should be clear to anyone who has studied painting or done skilled work with their own hands that the general level of sheer technical skill has fallen terribly in those fields.

another example:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Martin_Johnson_Heade_001.jpg

Of course a great part of this is precisely as you say- photography took over many of a painter's expected duties, and so many previously mandatory skills were taught ever less. Same kind of thing happened when the pianoforte took over from harpsichords and so on- being physically difficult to tune, yet holding its tuning far longer, the old skill of continually tuning your instrument on the fly has almost disappeared, and the effect on western music in general has also been radical, because the many different kinds of tunings all degenerated into th single one-size-fits-all-more-or-less 12-tone equal temperament (Mozart's father taught 55 tones per octave, for example, and which ones you'd be using would depend on the keys in the piece of music).

Check, for example, this realistic painting. This scene certainly could not be photographed.

(http://reverent.org/Images/emblem.jpg)
 
By the way, do you understand it. It is often argued that people can't grasp the meaning of advanced modern art due to their limited intellectual capacity. In reality, however, experts can't tell masterpieces of modern art from ridiculous parodies. This indicates that in truth any meaning is absent from moder art. In contrast, the above realistic painting does  have a clear and concise meaning.

It is a modern Don Quixote, tilting at modern windmills. Where is Sancho Panza? must be the first question that pops into everyone's mind. With my particular background of being raised with 19th century books and living in different multi-lingual environments my whole life, I also see a word game, maybe someone named, say, "Solovski" is Don Quixote (rossignol=nightingale=solovei + "ski") but those are just my own associations which I do automatically to amuse myself. You know my real name and location so maybe you can see that the chain of events makes that a  "natural" pun.

By the way as a physicist you are certainly aware that a camera lens does introduce a specific distortion of reality/perspective, which is usually demonstrated by comparing reflections of light on water in a photo with how they look in real life. Leaving aside the desirability or unavoidability or whatever of subjective perception, it is theoretically possible to paint a picture which is more measurabley "realistic" than a photo, but obviously the documentary value of photographs can't be seriously discounted on these grounds.

-Piltdown Man

Title: Re: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
Post by: Piltdown Man on August 30, 2008, 03:54:27 AM
In reality, however, experts can't tell masterpieces of modern art from ridiculous parodies. This indicates that in truth any meaning is absent from moder art. In contrast, the above realistic painting does  have a clear and concise meaning.

Note that you can't lump all "modern art" together, unless you want to operate at the level of someone who would dismiss all traditional "realistic" art by presenting as evidence amateur landscapes at the swap meet. Surely you are not going to claim that an ape could paint a Kandinsky or a Boccioni, are you?

-Piltdown Man
Title: Re: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
Post by: Mikhail Simkin on August 30, 2008, 03:48:45 PM
Surely you are not going to claim that an ape could paint a Kandinsky
Actually, about 7% of the people who took the Artist or ape? (http://reverent.org/an_artist_or_an_ape.html) quiz attributed participating in it painting by Kandinsky to an ape. Of course, an ape can't paint a picture similar to Kandinsky's with geometric figures. But any human can.

you can't lump all "modern art" together
Sure one can't. For example, Dali obviously could paint. I meant by modern art that part of it which is despised by the majority of people.
Title: Re: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
Post by: Mikhail Simkin on August 30, 2008, 05:34:31 PM
What I mean is, if we compare landscapes or beaucolic settings or mother-and-child kinds of pictures,
and what is chocolate-box art, of the 19th century to the same kinds of pictures in the 20th century and this century, it should be clear to anyone who has studied painting or done skilled work with their own hands that the general level of sheer technical skill has fallen terribly in those fields.

another example:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Martin_Johnson_Heade_001.jpg
You just pick bad examples. There are good artist today. Remnev, for example.

(http://www.artandphoto.ru/stock/art1/567/3186.jpg)


It is a modern Don Quixote, tilting at modern windmills.
Good for you. I posted the picture in another forum (http://australianartforum.com/showthread.php?t=6922) and nobody could get it.
Title: Re: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
Post by: Piltdown Man on August 31, 2008, 10:49:45 PM

You just pick bad examples. There are good artist today. Remnev, for example.

No, I am not picking "bad examples", I am talking about TYPICAL examples. The majority, the bulk.

You are picking a bad example in Remnev: his work is excellent, and therefore NOT representitive of
what I'm talking about, which is the general level of technical skill in "realistic" painting today. Take a look at the vast body of "new age" paintings, sports paintings, religious paintings and still lifes. Whether it is in spite of, or because of, all the current widely available technical facilities such as being able to project a Photoshop montage onto canvas and "paint by numbers" over it, the general standards are just not anywhere near what they were a century ago.

Now I recently saw an entire room full of third-rate Rothko rip-offs, by half a dozen allegedly "different" artists no less: I'm not saying that that a general level of crapiness is the property soley of representational painting at all.

It is a modern Don Quixote, tilting at modern windmills.
Good for you. I posted the picture in another forum (http://australianartforum.com/showthread.php?t=6922) and nobody could get it.

That is pretty disturbing.
Title: Re: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
Post by: Piltdown Man on September 01, 2008, 01:22:06 PM
It is a modern Don Quixote, tilting at modern windmills.
Good for you. I posted the picture in another forum (http://australianartforum.com/showthread.php?t=6922) and nobody could get it.

Oh speaking of Don Quxote, didn't you do a study on bogus references in scientific papers?

"Now let us come to those references to authors which other books have, and you want for yours. The remedy for this is very simple: You have only to look out for some book that quotes them all, from A to Z as you say yourself, and then insert the very same alphabet in your book, and though the imposition may be plain to see, because you have so little need to borrow from them, that is no matter; there will probably be some simple enough to believe that you have made use of them all in this plain, artless story of yours. At any rate, if it answers no other purpose, this long catalogue of authors will serve to give a surprising look of authority to your book."

-Cervantes, "Don Quixote"

You still haven't answered my question "where's Sancho Panza?" in your picture? Dore, Daumier, Picasso... there's a strong tradition of Don Quixote illustration and people are going to ask.

And are you aware that the book Don Quixote is widely considered to be the first modern novel? And that there is a direct connection between what the book does (consciously, I'm not talking about an "interpretation") and what the "modernist" painters were trying to do (consciously, spelled out in manifesto)?

-Piltdown Man

Title: Re: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
Post by: Mikhail Simkin on September 01, 2008, 02:23:59 PM
No, I am not picking "bad examples", I am talking about TYPICAL examples. The majority, the bulk.

You are picking a bad example in Remnev: his work is excellent, and therefore NOT representitive of
what I'm talking about, which is the general level of technical skill in "realistic" painting today.

I am using as examples the paintings I am familiar with. There are many very good contemporary artist, they are just not known to wide audience. Another example: Vasilyev

(http://rus-sky.com/vasilyev/vas_170.jpg)

the general standards are just not anywhere near what they were a century ago.
But old paintings that we look at today are not typical examples either, more likely some of the best.
Title: Re: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
Post by: Piltdown Man on September 02, 2008, 04:25:59 AM


the general standards are just not anywhere near what they were a century ago.
But old paintings that we look at today are not typical examples either, more likely some of the best.


That is a myth, and now that I think about the other sources from which I've heard the same myth expounded- namely, untalented artists doing abstractions, and their even less talented teachers- I'm even a little suspicious about the innocence of the origins of the myth.

If you would take a little time to check out the link I posted earlier, to "luminism" at Wikipedia, you'd quickly find by almost randomly clicking links a half-dozen related schools of painting (Tonalism, Hudson River, Barbizon, etc) each with some 6-12+ artists represented, you could effortlessly have 50 examples of concrete technical excellence in painting from the 19th century within 15 minutes. And that's just a drop in the bucket.

But those have been chosen for excellence, of course, and maybe the inarguabley large number of them simply indicates that there was once a vast amount of inept painting going on and those are the relatively few pictures which were well-made ?

Wrong. Take a drive around, say, Central Europe and visit churches and dusty little regional museums in the villages and small towns. There is a mind-boggling amount art, largely unnoticed and forgotten, which exhibits technical skills ranging from basic, but not inept (otherwise, for one thing, the paintings would have disintigrated beyond recognition already), to pretty darn good, to so well done, technically, that you can leave aside raw technical judgements and compare the paintings to masterworks. Of course you can come up with a whole list of deficiencies on an artistic or conceptual level when comparing such works to masterworks if you want, but it's not a matter of saying for example "this is clumsy because the artist was technically incapable of transmitting his vision to canvas at all, or unable to make a recognizable image of something", and so on.

The bog-standard standard was once very high, in terms of what we might call the physical skills aspects of painting.

This should be a common-sense realization. It is for one thing a logical consequence of industrialization and a side-effect of technological advances. I grew up with several relatives who were born in the 19th century, and lived a very long time. The expected norms for handwriting, hand sewing, memorization, etc. were very high. What was taken for granted then would be quite exceptional today. The unremarkable (back then) handwriting of a school teacher in a village looks almost like calligraphy today. That t says something.

Another example I can give is from my very direct experience. Noone where I live except for my wife, for whom I build things, is aware that I can do traditional joinery with hand tools: piston-fit dovetails, joinery without glue, nails, bolts or screws, that kind of thing. I take it lightly because it is a family tradition, my grandfather cut dovetails as utility joints for boxes and things, without even bothering to mark them first with a pencil or knife. Now, there are woodworkers here who are very highly regarded for their technical skills, and get oohs and aahs for their work. Out of politeness and respect for at least a certain amount of skill (at least they're not doing bad Rothko knock-offs and claiming to be artists), I never point out that this percieved "great skill" can be easily achieved by any non-clumsy person, with a router, some jigs, some powersanding and copious amounts of polyureathane finish. I know how easy it is because I've done that kind of thing before I could shave, and shrugged it off as unchallenging, not to mention the idea of my father and the ghost of my grandfather, and his fathers before him, laughing at such "woodworking".

So you can imagine how I laughed going jokingly through your Judd-Mass Manufacture test, as Judd didn't build his furniture, it was built for him by a factory, and it has long been my opinion that his furniture is mostly sub-Bauhaus anyway, except for some very well-proportioned sets which could, and should, be done by CNC machines anyway.

By the way if you go to Bauhaus museum and examine the original prototypes of furniture that has been copied and mass-manufactured endlessly, and you've done old-school woodwork for almost as long as you can remember or are otherwise genuinely manually skilled and sensitive to design, an honest assessment has to be that it is truly superb according to the standards of what it is supposed to be prototyping (aesthetic but inexpensive, etc.). In terms of elegant and useful proportions, and being as well-made as the budget permits, even IKEA for example has some pieces that are truly good.

IKEA also has a lot of garbage and I find it alarming, but not surprising, that their customers may not be able to distinguish, as evidenced by the quick discontinuation and lack of sales of certain pieces which are unusually good. For example, it is obvious to anyone who cares about quality that "massiveholz!" ("solid wood") or MDF is better than "cardboard", right? Once again, wrong. The MDF bookcases at IKEA sag in 6 months. The "solid wood" at IKEA is almost always strips and chunks of super-tree (genetically engineered to grow incredibley fast) timber, feather-joined and glued.

The "cardboard" on the other hand was an incredible space-age, ultra-light and amazingly well-engineered composite using paper-thin wood and some kind of honey-comb approach inside the "boards"- like cardboard, basically. It looks very good, way better than painted MDF, and our two large bookshelves are ten years old and as good as new, loaded with heavy books, having been disassembled and moved several times including a 6-month stint in a damp place that kills all MDF and warps the purported "solid wood"!

Keep in mind that I'm a life-long wood fanatic and maybe even wood snob. I've even made furniture starting with actual logs, splitting them by hand and the whole bit, rather than just purchased timber- at nineteen years old.  But I am praising "cardboard" furniture, and saying that whoever designed those "cardboard" bookshelves is a real cabinetmaker, and a real lover of wood, trees and forests. The cardboard bookshelves are an arm's length from a solid ironwood table which I built with handtools and glueless joinery, and go together very well.

One point I'm making here is that sometimes it is those who actually truly understand and experience the old-fashioned, highly-skilled, technically unarguable, standards, who also can appreciate "modern" things which would be considered garbage by a great number of people who think that they are judging by rigorous old-fashioned standards, but who actually either don't know what those standards really are, or haven't "lived" those standards enough to spot them in unfamiliar places.

One example of this is when someone hasn't done enough drawing and painting and so on enough to realize that what seems "highly skilled" to them is actually the product of a more or less simple technological process, or even almost a "trick".

Another example of this within what you are calling "modern art" is Barnett Newman. Most of his stuff does not interest me, but his most famous piece, Vir Humanis Sublimus, if you see it in real life or a very good reproduction, immediately struck me as the work of a genuine craftsman (we're not talking so much about "meaning" and so on in this thread, which is about "objective criteria").

You may say "a monkey could do that" if you see the painting, I don't know. I do know that I recognized immediately, just from a relatively large expensive reproduction of the painting, that the artist is coming from a background of traditional craftsmanship and an atmosphere of appreciation of craft. At the risk of making a fool of myself here, let me Google this...

let's see, he's a generation older than I had somehow assumed (born 1905) and what did his father do...
lessee... Polish-Russian Jew, clothing manufacture. Well what do you know, not so different from my own. The reverence for craftmanship and value place on skill of the hands in his family was almost certainly just like mine, and I could spot it in his painting which just looks like red wallpaper with a couple of stripes on it.

It's not a matter of whether I "like" his paintings (most I have seen are not to my taste at all) or think he's a "great artist" (I would say at this point, not having seen enough of his work, maybe simply excellent in his very particular specialty) or even if it's "good art". It's a matter of distinguishing between a bullshit artist and an artist in terms of an "objective" ability: hand work. It's clear to me that he did what he did on purpose, and very well, and sincerely.

Want to talk about sheer skill? Let's set some real standards and be vigorous and honest about them.

Just so we're more clear, the amount of times I recognize true handwork ability in contemporary art whether it is abstract or figurative is "not very often" to put it politely.

-Piltdown Man






Title: Re: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
Post by: Piltdown Man on September 02, 2008, 06:14:41 AM
Something I just noticed as I was trying to sort of catalog the few artists who live in your "ape painting" world but I find, personally, to meet the standard of "craftsman".

In terms of status in your "planet of the apes" world of "modern art", the artists I percieve as genuine craftsman (it is unimportant in this discussion whether I "like" the artwork) seem to be just a bit unwelcome.

For example, Jules Olitski (Jevel Demikovski). It seems he's "out of style", and a well-known art critic (Matthew Collings, for anyone who cares) almost... defensively? has stated that he likes Olitski paintings, as if it is clear that that gets your named crossed off the "hip" list. And another critic called Olitski's paintings "Muzak", very curious as my first remembered impression of Olitski was "hehe, something that is not Muzak like all the other abstracts I've been seeing".

If there's a pattern to this, it could indicate and condemn something far more tragic or even sinister than your "abstract art equals ape art" stance can. Far worse than a world of fools and confidence tricksters, which seems to be what you imagine "modern art" to be, would be a world in which what you call "modern" and "abstract" art really CAN be things it claims to be- and those who are actually able to achieve those things are methodically pushed out of the system. That would imply more than greed, flim-flammery, snake-oil salesmanship, fools and suckers (nothing new there, in all kinds of fields); it would indicate... evil?

The idea of "degenerate" art has been brought up here, but I don't think you're really up to adressing the issue, for if you were serious about it, you'd have to address the possibility of general "degeneration", and maybe worse, in representative art as well as abstract, and have to concede at least the possibility that abstract art can be quality or not, and therefore also a target of whatever causes "degeneration".

-Piltdown Man



Title: Re: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
Post by: Mikhail Simkin on September 02, 2008, 06:03:58 PM
Oh speaking of Don Quxote, didn't you do a study on bogus references in scientific papers?

"Now let us come to those references to authors which other books have, and you want for yours. The remedy for this is very simple: You have only to look out for some book that quotes them all, from A to Z as you say yourself, and then insert the very same alphabet in your book, and though the imposition may be plain to see, because you have so little need to borrow from them, that is no matter; there will probably be some simple enough to believe that you have made use of them all in this plain, artless story of yours. At any rate, if it answers no other purpose, this long catalogue of authors will serve to give a surprising look of authority to your book."

-Cervantes, "Don Quixote"
Yes, I noticed that passage in the preface when I read the book a year ago.

You still haven't answered my question "where's Sancho Panza?" in your picture? Dore, Daumier, Picasso... there's a strong tradition of Don Quixote illustration and people are going to ask.
Sancho Panza is an important personage in the novel, but plays no vital role in the episode. So illustrations mostly appear without him. Example:

http://donquijote.cc/db1/00010/donquijote.cc/_uimages/DQWindmill.gif
Title: Re: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
Post by: Piltdown Man on September 09, 2008, 05:33:01 AM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:TheScapegoat-WilliamHolmanHunt.jpg

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:John_William_Waterhouse_-_Ulysses_and_the_Sirens_(1891).jpg

Compare these 19th century paintings (we're talking about technique here) to the Vasilyev. Surely you can see, unless you're out of touch with working skillfully with your own hands, who are the master craftsmen here and who is not.

And of course this has been the true big joke (oddly, even suspiciously, not addressed very much in mainstream art history, as far as I know): especially looking back now, anyone who really knows skilled workmanship first hand, and has an "eye" and "feel" even in the most old-fashioned kind of way ("yes I could teach that guy to cut dovetail joints, and that guy probably never would learn to do it really right...") can see that the "Entartete Kunst" exhibition exhibited varies degrees of raw skill, but the "Grosse deutsche Kunstausstellung" exhibited, literally and obviously, DEGENERATE art in the literal sense, for it was directly comparable with art of previous half-century in every concievable way, and obviously simply not as well done as a huge body of very well-known and very popular work.

Oh yeah, Sancho Panza is always depicted in the scene immediately following yours, where he rides up to help Don Quixote after the "giants" have dehorsed the knight.

-Piltdown Man



Title: Re: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
Post by: Piltdown Man on September 09, 2008, 06:05:15 AM
"Degeneracy (for the quality; degeneration for the process; adj. and v. degenerate), from the Latin de-generare "to depart from its kind or genus, to fall from its proper or ancestral quality""

Now please show to me the perceptible (not theoretical, for the characters who are going to jump in Cubism and Gorky and all  ;) ) ancestral kind or genus of the appearance of a Jackson Pollock "action" painting. Wallpaper?

There is simply no honest way to talk about degeneracy in artistic technique in this case, for even if we consider the work complete garbage we can't cite a direct ancestor with which to compare it! With representative art, we can always come up with some kind of ancestor (making it more challenging in some ways, and less in others).

Now, knock-offs of Pollock is another story. If you really have been honest and diligent in your study of "ape" art you already know that the harshest critic of "degenerate" (mannered, cheesey copies, going through the motions, whatever) "modern art" was the very guy most famous for praising and popularizing abstract art, Clement Greenberg.

Greenberg is demonized today, interestingly enough, but even those who think they support him often don't seem to be aware of what he actually wrote, rather than what people claim he wrote. I suggest you read him, and what he wrote over the years not just the famous essays from way back when, there's plenty on the internet.

-Piltdown Man
 
Title: Re: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
Post by: Mikhail Simkin on September 09, 2008, 05:21:35 PM
That is a myth, and now that I think about the other sources from which I've heard the same myth expounded- namely, untalented artists doing abstractions, and their even less talented teachers- I'm even a little suspicious about the innocence of the origins of the myth.

So disprove it. Let those talented apestract artist paint something to be mistaken for Vasylyev and set up a quiz.

you could effortlessly have 50 examples of concrete technical excellence in painting from the 19th century within 15 minutes. And that's just a drop in the bucket.

But those have been chosen for excellence, of course, and maybe the inarguabley large number of them simply indicates that there was once a vast amount of inept painting going on and those are the relatively few pictures which were well-made ?

Wrong. Take a drive around, say, Central Europe and visit churches and dusty little regional museums in the villages and small towns. There is a mind-boggling amount art, largely unnoticed and forgotten, which exhibits technical skills ranging from basic, but not inept (otherwise, for one thing, the paintings would have disintigrated beyond recognition already), to pretty darn good, to so well done, technically, that you can leave aside raw technical judgements and compare the paintings to masterworks. Of course you can come up with a whole list of deficiencies on an artistic or conceptual level when comparing such works to masterworks if you want, but it's not a matter of saying for example "this is clumsy because the artist was technically incapable of transmitting his vision to canvas at all, or unable to make a recognizable image of something", and so on.

Probably, those old paintings that are known are from the top 1% of all paintings. However, only 1% of that top 1% are known. So there is a lot of unknown excellent paintings, which are of the same quality as famous masterpieces. I made up the numbers, since I did not study this precise question, but qualitatively the picture is correct. I know it from my research in other fields.

if you see it in real life or a very good reproduction

I had already addressed the issue of the quality of reproduction (http://reverent.org/let_us_be_fair_to_malevich.html).
Title: Re: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
Post by: Mikhail Simkin on September 09, 2008, 06:13:23 PM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:TheScapegoat-WilliamHolmanHunt.jpg

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:John_William_Waterhouse_-_Ulysses_and_the_Sirens_(1891).jpg

Compare these 19th century paintings (we're talking about technique here) to the Vasilyev. Surely you can see, unless you're out of touch with working skillfully with your own hands, who are the master craftsmen here and who is not.

Another example of this within what you are calling "modern art" is Barnett Newman. Most of his stuff does not interest me, but his most famous piece, Vir Humanis Sublimus, if you see it in real life or a very good reproduction, immediately struck me as the work of a genuine craftsman (we're not talking so much about "meaning" and so on in this thread, which is about "objective criteria").

You may say "a monkey could do that" if you see the painting, I don't know. I do know that I recognized immediately, just from a relatively large expensive reproduction of the painting, that the artist is coming from a background of traditional craftsmanship and an atmosphere of appreciation of craft. At the risk of making a fool of myself here, let me Google this...

So you see crafsmanship in Newman, but not in Vasylyev? And whoever doesn't are out of touch with working skillfully?
Another Vasylyev's picture.  Paint yourself one like that.

(http://slavs.org.ua/img/paintings/12.jpg)
Title: Re: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
Post by: neophilistine on September 30, 2008, 03:53:16 AM
Surely the most significant conclusion to be drawn here is that that 'beauty' is very much in the eye of the beholder.  Recent purchases of emperor's new clothes by the obscenely wealthy should be cellebrated as an appropriate, non-violent, redistribution of some of their wealth.
Title: Re: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
Post by: BerndSaller on January 01, 2009, 06:06:02 PM
Your opponents can argue that there are many pictures painted with high precision that are boring to look at.

Why art is chosen to weaken the foundations of our high-tech society? Can it achive such a goal? Technology does not depend on modern art.

thats it ... a good example was always for me ... a digital photo would not stay so long at my wall as a analoge one (less precision is for me more interesting and gives my eyes something to look longer on it to find and deal with the point of interest or something like this - attraction/provokation?) ... and i think this is the same with others who like more precision in photos or paintings ... but then the question would be for me ... do they like it then more because they (maybe) need more precision? and why do they need it? *g (you can deal with everything in a pos. or a neg. way ... depends on the idividuum and his/her experiances and mood and other things) - but this is not my problem because i can find an art skill also in paintings from children if i open my eyes and mind and really want to find it ;-)

so - for me no need of such a discussion - i´m no psychiatrist and dont want to be one or look like one