Thursday, November 10, 2011

Art, who's to say?

Image via The Daily Beast, Time Life Pictures/Getty Images.
Recently Bob Dylan has come under scrutiny for his art that was being featured in a show.  They said he painted from old photographs and that it made his art not worthy of a second look.  I personally don't agree with this statement at all.  Looking at his painting versus the photograph--yes, he used it obviously as a reference, but with his brush work and color I think it creates a beautiful, separate from the original, work of art.

I guess I take slight offense to this because when I work I have to have a reference myself.  I can't just say, "I'm going to paint a woman in a chair." and set out to paint it.  Nope, I've got to have a photograph or some kind of image to refer to.  I envy artists who can draw from memory (my father is one of those people), but taking inspiration from a photograph doesn't make the art unworthy.  I find his paintings beautiful.  And it's not as if he took the photograph itself and called it his own.  Now that would be overstepping a bit. 

I guess in the gallery statement it was said that he drew from his experiences, and it didn't source his references.  That is the only issue I have.  I try to give credit where credit is due.  Usually when I paint from a photograph I alter my image enough that the original bears likeness but it doesn't look like a copy.  Even still, if there is a person to credit, I will.  I've got some paintings that I'm working on at the present that are based on old photographs from magazines.  Reason being is I love the image, and I want to create a work of art that pays homage to it.  I want to make it my own.  Plus, most of the images I find are in dusty corners, and I'd love for more people to see them, so painting using them as a reference gets them noticed.  Does that make sense?

Another issue that I have with art is people that try to say what is or isn't.  To me, it's a completely subjective.  I personally don't understand most contemporary art.  I'm not going to state "That's not art." But I might say, "That's not art, to me."  That's my opinion.  I like art that shows work.  It can be abstract, but I want to see what the artist was doing.  Others may find my work dull, or imperfect, but I'm proud of what I create.  I'm sure Dylan feels the same way.  He obviously is doing what he loves, and I admire him for that.  For anybody to say his art isn't art, I'd like to ask them exactly what art is.

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