Recently the Curator for Contemporary Art at the Princeton University Art Museum was heard to say that whatever appears not to be art was “Art”. Turning this into a syllogism I assumed that whatever, then, appears to be art is not “Art”.
I know this seems to be a great leap forward, but after browsing through the contemporary galleries in Chelsea and the Museum of Modern Art I began to think the concept correct. What is now being accepted as contemporary art has little to do with what I have thought to be art. Specifically, my own work as an artist probably is no longer art.
I don’t do conceptual art, although I think every painting has some sort of concept, however old fashioned. I don’t do installations. I must admit I’m not handy at building things. And I don’t do videos. I do not feel qualified to judge these new versions of art, unless seventy years of attendance at movies, now called film, has any judgmental validity.
You will notice that I haven’t mentioned painting as a category of contemporary art. I do think there are great living painters still working today, but I get the feeling that more and more they are thought of as part of history.
Which brings me to my own personal dilemma. Since I no longer seem to do what is called Art in the contemporary world, what is it I do? If I am no longer an artist, what can I call myself? I have to find another genre or category into which I can fit.
I admit that some consider me elderly. I was fired from my last university teaching job by an art faculty that did not consider the drawing and painting skills I taught valuable enough to be part of a computerized curriculum. So age may be a factor. I do know that my work will increase in value after I have gone to that great art studio in the sky. I have even pondered faking my own demise to watch it happen, but that may be tempting fate. At any rate, I’m probably a part of history now, however minor a part that may be.
One day my wife, the excellent artist, Lucy Graves McVicker, and I were waiting at the train station to go to New York City, when we heard this conversation.
First Gentleman: “Don’t you have a seat in Club 100? (Club 100 was a special chair car on an earlier express train for high-powered executives. You had to wait for a member to die to get elected to the vacant seat. I believe inflation has changed the name to Club 200)
Second Gentleman: “Yes, but I find this later local more convenient for my time schedule at the office”.
First Gentleman: “Then why do you keep your seat in Club 100?”
Second Gentleman: “Well, because, to tell you the truth, I want it mentioned in my obituary in the Times.”
Moral: We’re all looking for our place.
Since none of the skills I have developed during my lifetime are any longer valid in the art world, do I create my own world? Perhaps, as I develop these blogs on my life in art, I will find my place.