Monday, May 21, 2012

Can You Judge an Artist by Their Cover?

We all know the phrase, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” basically meaning that what is on the outside does not reflect what is in the inside.  This can be applied, yes to books and other objects, but more so it is used as a morality tool so that people don’t judge or assume things of others.  It’s very handy to prevent oneself from looking like a jerk or a rube and most times it’s true.  In the art world this is very useful as the appearances of who is rich, poor, star artist and up and coming is as smudged as mascara after a good cry.  But what about art, does this phrase hold the same weight when looking or experiencing a piece of art?  Looking at art is a bizarre interaction.  The steps are simple; a person looks at/experiences an artwork and then they eventually leave the space that the work is viewable/experienced in.  Most times there is a press release or bio that will enhance the knowledge behind the piece but in essence the act of looking/experiencing art is rudimentary and specific.  

For those that do not look or seek art on a regular basis, this activity of standing in front of or being a part of an artworks’ vicinity of engagement may at times seem odd, boring, or intimidating.  For those that do regularly look/experience art there can be at times feelings of quickness, dullness or obligation.  For each person there are various ways of seeing and thinking about art and each person carries it in a different way.  There is no right way to experience art.  Seeing something for the first time and that triggering wanting to know more about an artist and their practice is what makes looking at art exciting and fantastic. 

Judging an artist by their artwork on first glance may seem like a terribly rude thing to do but I think that this impulse is what most people do when they first encounter a work.  They think; Who made this?  What were they thinking? Who is this person?  Below are some surface judgments on artists who have been on my mind but I have not yet met in real life, nor possibly ever will.  

Darren Bader, Chicken Burrito, Beef Burrito – Has a lot of close male friends, doesn’t eat a lot of sugar, knows how to play an instrument, comes from upper middle class family, sleeps on his stomach, generous, has distinct laugh, wears same clothes repeatedly. 

Wolfgang Laib, Pollen from Hazelnut – Studies Buddhism/Hinduism, has special diet, knows multiple languages, sensitive, soft spoken, does yoga, has slim fingers. 

Bjarne Melgaard, IDEAL POLE – Insane and or genius, stoops shoulders, does psychedelics, wears sandals a lot, crazy eyes. 

Joan Mitchell, MERCI– Anxious, strong willed, shouts but apologies afterwards, cuts hair often, doesn’t feel like she can talk to most people, sleeps on her back.

Mai-Thu Perret, Melancholia III- Thinks deep thoughts, makes notes in books, drinks wine, wears nicely tailored clothes, doesn’t talk about her work a lot, reads a lot, clean living and work spaces.

Frances Stark, The New Vision- Quirky, good sense of humor, likes sweets, alone often, makes funny faces in the mirror, goes out at night, clutter in work and home spaces, occasionally puts on music very loudly.

John Stezaker, Love XI- Doesn’t like to be in loud rooms, wears plaid, soft spoken, goes to bars alone, has large hands.

Dana Schutz, Swimming, Smoking, Crying – Thinks in colors, watches a lot of movies, quite, likes bagels, not argumentative, takes time to make important decisions.

Rosemarie Trockel, Balaklava- Fantastic sense of humor, meticulous, exact in giving direction, wears hair so not in her face, gardens, makes meals for friends.

Jan Van Eyck, Portrait of a Carthusian – Insomniac, has vivid dreams, eats a lot of fruit, does stretching exercises, purses lips when upset, never raises voice. 

Vincent Van Gogh, A Portrait oh Joseph Roulin – Drinker and smoker, likes dogs, not talkative but sensitive.  Has leg pains, eats simple meals.  Helps neighbors carry heavy things.

Aaron Young, Tumbleweed (crushed fence)- Highly confidant, travels to warm places, drinks (but not excessively), bored often, does pushups everyday.