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October 30, 2019 / Congau

Art and Progress

Art and science search for the truth, but in very different ways. Science keeps conquering nature drilling ever deeper into matter while retaining everything that has been observed on the way. Science is ever progressing.

Art keeps looking around, always shifting perspective, changing focus any moment, returning to itself again and again, learning but not in a straight line, adding knowledge without accumulating it. There is no progress in art.

There can’t be any for art has no purpose other than itself. Art is for art’s sake and every single piece of it strives to fulfill its internal goal of self-completeness.

Whenever the artist remembers that, there is freshness in his work, and there is truth. Any notion of progress is irrelevant when the full truth is achieved within a single work, but the opposite is possible. There may be regress in art.

When art becomes imitation, its essence is reduced and there is less art in it. If that was to happen on a large scale and much of the art world lapsed into copies of itself, there would be a general degeneration. Arguably there have been such periods in the history of art.

Let’s not make a sweeping statement about contemporary art. Great works are no doubt being produced and there’s an amount of trash; it’s safe to assume that any period has experienced that combination. But the modern art world sometimes seems to be more obsessed with its industry rather than the actually art being produced. The particular piece of art is not only for its own sake but for the sake of a web of galleries and curators. They appear to be trying to outbid each other in originality and attention and in that process there is a risk that their independence is sacrificed and thereby their truth value. If that is so, the world of art is deteriorating. There can’t be progress in it anyway.

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