Art Vent

Letting the Fresh Air In

More definitions

November 5, 2007 - 7:55pm -- Carol Diehl
Again, I'm always looking for more distinctions so we can sort through the plethora of art out there and begin to make the judgments that have been so lacking. I found a quote from this 2007 lecture written by Walter Darby Bannard on gallery owner Edward Winkleman's blog, and the complete text is available on WDB's archive. "Art is condensed life." I love that.

Art is condensed life. The artist works his materials against immediate circumstances and applies what he has in his head against what he has already done, reaching down to the extraordinary harmonic integrity of life itself to fashion something that is narrow, safe, permanent, and which deliberately circumvents transitory utility in order to create a dynamic equivalent of life itself. Art comes from a place that’s deeper than words and ideas and things. It goes out to the same place in the viewer. The work itself is the point of contact, the spark that jumps between the poles. It yields a special kind of recognition and pleasure, but does not submit to rational explanation.

Every artist tries to bring that core experience to the surface encoded in his or her art, but few succeed. After all we’re not talking about “art” but great art. Great art is what drives this enterprise. If it were not for great art, we would not be sitting here. Mediocre art and bad art are something else…Most art is just surface noise. The world is jammed with this stuff.

Once we accept that there is such a thing as good art and bad art and that art has value for us then we are forced to conclude that the judgments we make about it are not individual exercises of taste, but functions of how well we get what the art has.

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