Re: Artist/craftsman

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Posted by Sarah Jasmijn on July 9, 2002 at 15:37:55:

In reply to: Re: Artist/craftsman posted by Catherine Cartwright Jones on July 9, 2002 at 11:10:52:

Hey, interesting, I find myself almost diametrically opposed to your point of
view... Interesting! Here's some of my point of view:

: The finest artists have
been very aware that they were first and
: foremost, craftsmen, and they were never
too snobbish to take risks : or
: try new things, nor too proud to get down and dirty and
do a hard
: day's work.

That's a pretty sweeping (and unverifiable) statement.
Personally I have met a lot of people who create amazing work (trying to stay away from
the word art here for a second) who were IMO incredibly shortsighted about art, the
meaning of art, what constitutes art, etc. Also, people who are/were very
experimental with technique, for example, can be downright conservative with
materials, and vice versa. And people who stuck with tradition in terms of medium,
still produced some amazing work. Is their work less fine because they weren't taking
risks or trying new things? What if the context is lost, and you can't know if the artist
of this work was trying new things, or following in other's footsteps, does that mean
you can never properly view their work?

: They had bills to pay, work to do, and art
was their trade

Uh, no. At some times in history 'great' art was an idle pursuit,
only suitable for people of leisure. Personally I don't think that makes that artists
work more or less valid in and of itself (though people at the time certainly did) but
your mileage may vary.

: ..... but if their personal level of talent, creativity
could also
: carry keen intelligence and observation, that made the difference
between a daub and a Da Vinci, a hut and a cathedral, a caftan and a
: coronation

Interesting examples. Seems to imply that a cathedral is more worthy than a
hut. Personally I think they are different things built to different
specifications. And I'd probably go as far as saying that not every cathedral is
necessarily 'art', or more beautiful or important than every hut.

: Often, what
designates their work as art is the : : test
: of time, and as ephemera, henna couldn't
fall into that category.

Personally I find 'the test of time' the silliest
'art/not art' argument of all. People's values change over time: There was a
beautiful roman church built ca. 1060 here in Utrecht that was demolished in 1844
because people at the time thought it was ugly. Paintings of it have been preserved,
and I can assure you, if it was still standing today it would have been a protected
monument, and draw many, many visitors every year. But the folks in 1844 thought it was
just plain ugly, obsolete and in the way. Go figure. If something is relevant to us,
that says more about us and our time than about the original work. I very much doubt
there is any work of art which has continuously been relevant and/or

Also, in modern art there is a lot of 'time based art' and performance art
that is very fleeting. It still calls itself art, and is considered by many others to be
art, so I guess we're very much back to definitions. Yours includes 'the test of time',
mine is much more confused. ;)

: Being a snob about one's art is a sure sign that
one's art isn't up : to
: much ..........

Gotta disagree. Much as I'd like the
creator of a work of art to be as wonderful (in my own personal, subjective opinion, of
course!) as I think their work is, more often than not, they're... Not. I think it's
perfectly possible for less than perfect people to create meaningful art. Sometimes
it detracts from my enjoyment of the original work if I find out the person who made it is
a Very Unpleasant Person. But should that colour my reading of the work? If it does,
does that invalidate my initial --more positive-- reading of the work?

These are just
some of the thoughts bouncing around in my head when it comes to what constitutes art,
and what doesn't...


Sarah Jasmijn


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