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Symbolism is the future of visual art

Painting had a devil of a time adjusting to the rise of photography. They tried all sorts of ways to think of reasons why their skills had value apart from representation. The Impressionists said, we're not painting objects but light reflected from objects. The cubists said, we can give you several points of view at once, not like a two-dimensional photograph. Surrealists said, we can lump together objects that would never be seen together in real life and so stimulate your unconscious. Abstract painters experimented with color, line, shape, texture, and ultimate found objects, where selection rather than creation was seen as the essence of the artistic imperative. Meanwhile others delved into the emotional world with automatic painting, and expressionism. But as painting became more and more about painting rather than communication, it grew more and more ghettoized even as appreciation of the old representational works had never been more widespread or higher.

What is to be done? The future is suggested in that story about the "Piss Obama" the Republicans created. One photograph from American artist Andres Serrano in 1987 has haunted their dreams and waking for twenty-five years. One photograph has caused more outrage, drama, and dreams than all of the rest of art put together. One photo of an ordinary glass with a yellow liquid in the bottom and a crucifix sitting it, has obsessed them night and day for decades, making them feel angry and helpless, but not disgusted, as they expected to be.

Why? Because it was not, as they pretended, a desecration. Try as they might, nobody gagged up a lunch on seeing it. Serrano's photo didn't reduce CHRIST at all, but it rather made piss seem tasty and drinkable. It elevated the natural body function rather than tore down their religion.

So when they created "Piss Obama," hoping the left will feel angry and frustrated as they will, the fact remains 1) they are more likely to gag over this representation than the left; and 2) they are by doing it elevating Obama to a kind of supernatural talisman, all while satisfying their sexual lust for Golden Showers.

The future of art, what will reconnect it with the masses as well as the intellectuals, is the briliant manipulations of symbols, the ordinary understood symbols of secular, commercial, religious, etc. society. Andres Serrano has shown the way.

by Anonymousreply 1012/09/2012

I guess it was a mistake to post this on a weekend when the worker drones come to relax.

by Anonymousreply 112/08/2012

Miss OP, you sure are something.

by Anonymousreply 212/08/2012

A hot mess you were thinking, R2?

by Anonymousreply 312/08/2012

That's nice, OP, but here on DL I'd rather read some inside dirt and scoop about our celebs from insiders.

by Anonymousreply 412/08/2012

This is nothing new. Strong symbolic art has been around for centuries, OP.

by Anonymousreply 512/08/2012

Well, your conclusion is also confusing because the early points are about the continued viability of painting after the invention of successful mechanical reproduction, but then you jump to a conclusion about contempoary photography without any discussion of that medium's struggle to become a legitimate art.

There are a number of interesting directions in art right now and any of them could lead to the future. Last I read about this, the debate seemed to be between fiction photography (Cindy Sheman, Jeff Wall) and non-fiction photography (Nan Goldin, Thomas Struth), with fiction winning.

Although, I'm sure by now they have moved on to a new debate.

by Anonymousreply 612/08/2012


by Anonymousreply 712/08/2012

As much as anything, the arts define the times, sketching a portrait of a moment in the life of the nation and the world, marking a period in ways it comes to be viewed by people who live through it and by people who come after. But the tale of our times is mostly being told by our unwillingness to tell it. -- LA Times

by Anonymousreply 812/08/2012

Lichtenstein was a 37-year-old Rutgers art professor when he made his first Pop painting — Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse fishing off a pier. Adapted from a children's book illustration, it was anything but child's play.

A typically exuberant, bug-eyed Donald thinks he's snagged a whopper on his fishing line. Mickey, stifling a chortle, looks on with silent bemusement, since Donald is unaware that all he's really caught is his own coattail, which he's hooked behind his back.

The reigning Abstract Expressionist faith in a self that can know only its own experience, its own states of being, gets affectionately skewered. Lichtenstein rescued commercial reproduction techniques from snobby disgrace while flooding the abstract-art zone with figures.

Art review - 'Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective' smashes cliches

By Christopher Knight, Los Angeles Times Art Critic

June 8, 2012

by Anonymousreply 912/09/2012

You are totally correct, OP. I agree 100%

by Anonymousreply 1012/09/2012
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