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November 7, 2019 / Congau

Lost Artistic Value

Artistic language cannot be translated. If it could, it wouldn’t be art.

Of course, art can and must be interpreted, but doing so is in no way like expressing the same message by other means. A poem can’t be transferred into plain language and a painting can’t be substituted by an analysis.

Art is the transmittance of a message in an aesthetic fashion. Simple language communicates ideas without attempting to include emotions. When there is no artistic pretense, it’s rather irrelevant how something is said as long as the basic information is conveyed.

Therefore, if it’s possible to strip off the aesthetic elements of a piece of art and retell its whole meaning without having to look at the work itself, it fails as a unique artistic object.

It is my suspicion that some modern works of “art” fall short of this requirement. If it’s possible to describe an installation and get a full sense of it without having to look at the actual item, the real art (if there is any) is not present where it’s supposed to be.

Visual art is intrinsically connected with the material that presents it. The artist molding the clay doesn’t have a finished idea of what he is doing that can be separated from the work at hand.

If the idea of a piece of art is complete before any material has been touched, the art is entirely in the idea as it can be expressed in plain language. Then it’s irrelevant if the piece is actually made, and if it is, it can be destroyed without any loss of value.

A novel is not a book. A symphony is not instruments. An installation may not be objects.

A lot of contemporary art is presented as installations, and one may ask where the artistic worth is to be found: In objects, in ideas or not at all.

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