Author Topic: An objective criteria for comparing art skill  (Read 58598 times)

Piltdown Man

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 10
    • View Profile
Re: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
« Reply #15 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

Mikhail Simkin

  • Administrator
  • Full Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 142
    • View Profile
Re: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
« Reply #16 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? 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.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2008, 03:50:42 PM by Mikhail Simkin »

Mikhail Simkin

  • Administrator
  • Full Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 142
    • View Profile
Re: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
« Reply #17 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.




It is a modern Don Quixote, tilting at modern windmills.
Good for you. I posted the picture in another forum and nobody could get it.

Piltdown Man

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 10
    • View Profile
Re: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
« Reply #18 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 and nobody could get it.

That is pretty disturbing.

Piltdown Man

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 10
    • View Profile
Re: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
« Reply #19 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 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


Mikhail Simkin

  • Administrator
  • Full Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 142
    • View Profile
Re: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
« Reply #20 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



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.

Piltdown Man

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 10
    • View Profile
Re: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
« Reply #21 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







Piltdown Man

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 10
    • View Profile
Re: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
« Reply #22 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




Mikhail Simkin

  • Administrator
  • Full Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 142
    • View Profile
Re: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
« Reply #23 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

Piltdown Man

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 10
    • View Profile
Re: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
« Reply #24 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




Piltdown Man

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 10
    • View Profile
Re: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
« Reply #25 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
 

Mikhail Simkin

  • Administrator
  • Full Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 142
    • View Profile
Re: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
« Reply #26 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.

Mikhail Simkin

  • Administrator
  • Full Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 142
    • View Profile
Re: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
« Reply #27 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.


neophilistine

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 1
    • View Profile
Re: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
« Reply #28 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.

BerndSaller

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 31
  • don't worry about any rules!
    • View Profile
    • Bernd Saller
Re: An objective criteria for comparing art skill
« Reply #29 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

« Last Edit: January 01, 2009, 06:41:53 PM by BerndSaller »