Friday, September 25, 2009

CI #22 -- Art

I went to the Brooklyn Museum of Art for the first time today, so I thought this Friday evening would be the perfect time to breezily analyze the mammoth pillar of human existence that is ART.

I would say I know as much about art as I do about wine, which is to say I know what I like when I see or taste it (The wine is more often than not red. The art may or may not be.)

I do, however, know that "What is art?" or "What constitutes art?" seems to be an important question among those who do know about "art" when it comes to everything from home furnishings to paintings involving feces. Many times walking down Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, I have asked myself this very same question with respect to this:

(Again, click if you can't read or see it. Also, there's not usually trash around it.)

So I decided to write a former professor I had for an art theory/criticism class about it. He also happened to be my adviser (long story). I asked him (cq) Is this stump art? (or is it a joke, which could make it art? Regardless, I'm pro-stump).

Here's his response:

I would need to know a couple things before I could go very far into this discussion. First, what does the answer matter? What is at stake in this stump? And second, does the "estimate -- $89,000" refer to anything? Was, for example, that the cost of turning the tree into a stump? If so, the piece may be some sort of social or political protest, using its form (a parody of a work of art) as a way of protesting inappropriate public expenditures or the loss of shade for local residents, or ....

If the $89,000 does not refer to anything, then the piece is a
work of
in the sense that it is itself a visual metaphor for "work of art" which it becomes just by parodying the captions on works of art. In this respect, one notes that the style of caption is dated--it mimics the way captions were done 80 years ago, so it may be that it is the caption more than the stump that is the work of art, though the stump needs to be there in order that there be a caption.

As a metaphor for a work of art or for a caption for a work of art, it is somewhat illuminating, as metaphors always are. But the luminosity is pretty low, less than 15 watts, I think. You didn't ask whether it was a GOOD work of art, or an IMPORTANT work of art, just whether it was art at all.

I could go on and on, as you remember that I always did. It was great to hear from you. What else are you doing in Brooklyn besides looking at stumps?


As you can see, his response cries out for further research, none of which I have done. But what fun is art if you have to think about it?

1 comment:

  1. Follow-up: Here's a link to the artist's web site with similar work.