Truckers Guide to Art
Be patient. This is a long winded post.
There are only three main categories of art in the world. Yep, three. And the big secret is that anyone can appreciate, dissect and discuss art with these guidelines to the three categories.
First of all, let me point out my qualifications to spout off on this theory. I am bourgeois. The first time I started wearing black was when my marks in art school started slipping. My plaid flannel shirt and my story of the moose hanging in our yard were just not cutting the mustard. I wore black; my marks went up. This isn’t a direct correlation – I actually was more industrious. But it’s a lot funnier to think that black equals success in art. I only wear black turtle necks now because I’m older and I’m hoping it will bind my second chin to my neck.
I call my three principles of art “The Truckers Guide to Art” because truckers are known to travel from point A to point B in the most direct, efficient and practical manner possible. Also, I’m sure a trucker would run me over if I started expounding polysyllabic art theories… but if I had a good moose story I might earn some respect.
Let’s move onto the three categories of art. There is lookin’ art, thinkin’ art and feelin’ art. That’s it.
First of all, do you like the way it looks? It doesn’t have to be pretty to appeal to you. You may not like the look of art in galleries but if you are choosing art for your home you should like the way it looks. Under this guideline feel free to choose the art that matches your sofa and chairs. This is your home, your domain and you are king. Anybody can have an opinion on the way art looks. Remember, just because you like a picture doesn’t mean you want to see it everyday. An execution scene over your breakfast nook may encourage you to clean your plate but at what price? Put it in the washroom and admonish visitors to wash their hands.
Lookin’ art becomes more complicated once you start talking about line, composition, form, and balance. Those are some of the ingredients to lookin’ art. The more art educated a person is, the more they can endlessly expand and dissect these ingredients. Think of a chef endlessly singing the praises of Dijon mustard. If you aren’t very art educated, don’t worry about it too much. You don’t have to look under the hood to appreciate the look of a Ferrari.
The second type of art is feelin’ art. It draws out (pun intended) a reaction from the viewer. Imagine the churches of hundreds of years ago and the sculpture, stonework, tapestries and paintings that crammed those stone walls. A lot of those gargoyles were there just to scare the living daylights out of the peasants.
On the other hand, art can inspire, comfort, calm and stimulate. It can even disgust. A rotting meat dress could inspire the viewer to regurgitate their own contribution on the gallery floor. Unintended, but oddly natural feedback*.
Your reaction is personal. Public art and private art are two different animals. One is a beast that you may not want in your house and the other gives feeling to your personal space. In your house it’s your party, feel whatever you want. But don’t expect the feeling to be mutual.
Thinkin’ art can be a lot more complicated. An artist may create art with symbols, mathematical theory, theology, history and layers and layers of meaning. An art critic should be the translator and interpreter for the public because goodness knows; there is a lot of art theory out there. Thinkin’ art requires more current book learnin’ than most of us have. A good interpreter would be able to help us discover the value of thinkin’ art. Isn’t it frustrating when they obfuscate? It’s even worse when you don’t know the meaning of the word obfuscate.
Thinkin’ theory can be fun mental gymnastics… as long as you don’t stretch so far your mind snaps. Your mind will snap faster if you haven’t warmed it up. Be warned.
I’m thinkin’ that a masterpiece should span all three categories. There would be a lot of thinkin’, feelin’ and lookin’ going on in a masterpiece. It’s a great theory to put to the trucker test. What would a trucker do when looking at a potential masterpiece?
If this theory doesn’t work for you, wanna hear a moose story?
polysyllabic – big words, lots of sounds
*Vanitas: Flesh Dress for an Albino Anorectic by Jana Sterbak, shown at National Gallery in Ottawa, NOT moose meat... I hope
obfuscate – obscure, darken, as in keep you in the dark
BTW - my dad used to drive a truck for an art gallery