The purpose of the exhibit is to show how a smaller group of Europeans gave birth to what we now call Black Art. In the African Diaspora, this contemporary expression has been expressed through music (Roots and Jazz), dance, and literature. The term “Black Art” was coined by art critic Robert Hughes in his 1968 book The Shock of the New.
The focus of the exhibit is on the European artists who became known as the Fauves (French for The Wild Beasts), Les Nabis, and Les Automatistes. The exhibit also features paintings from the 1920s Harlem Renaissance, Abstract Expressionism and other movements that have influenced contemporary expressions of African Diaspora art. The paintings in the exhibit are all reproductions on paper or canvas.
“It’s hard to find an adjective that describes this exhibition,” said Ketchum. “The originals were so powerful; they spoke volumes. But so did these reproductions.”
The art of the past is often puzzling to people in the present. Sometimes it’s just an unfamiliar style, or a change in taste. Sometimes it’s something more fundamental, like a change in materials, or a new technology that makes possible new kinds of art.
Tastes change as much as they ever did, but now they are global. A few centuries ago, most of the world was one big colony, and the art of each place was very different from all the others. Everyone made do with what they had available, and artists all over the world developed similar solutions to similar problems. Today there is no such unity.
If you go to an exhibition of African art today, you will be reminded that Africans for a long time had no metal, so that most of their tools and weapons were made of wood or bone.* But all those wooden statues rotted away long ago. No one alive today has ever seen a great wooden statue from Africa except in pictures; no one alive today has ever even touched one.
The earliest paintings were also all done on organic materials: animal skins or plant leaves or wood or clay. Even after paint became available in tubes and squeezable tubes and could be applied by machine rather than hand-painting by craftsmen
I recently read a book called “The Nude: A Study in Ideal Form”. It’s an excellent book and I’d recommend it to anyone regardless of their interest in art because it addresses the question of what makes something beautiful.
The author, Michael Baxandall, explains that part of the reason we find things beautiful is due to our tendency to compare them with other things. He gives the example of a cut diamond–the beauty of a cut diamond is due not just to its shape, but also to its being so much more brilliant than any other object. We admire it more because it seems so much better than anything else we’ve ever seen.
This is why paintings often go out of style. Once everyone has seen them for a while, they are no longer considered beautiful because they don’t seem so much better than everything else.
An interesting example of this is the way we view black oil paintings from the early 19th century, such as those by Gainsborough or Turner. When they were first painted they were very popular among people who could afford them. But over time they fell out of favor and became associated with lower classes. This changed in the late 20th century when black paintings began selling for millions at auction again, and artists like Damien
I am a painter myself and have been so since the age of 11. I have always thought that it was a very strange thing to be, but it is what I have always wanted to do. From the time I was able to hold a paintbrush in my hand, I knew that this is what I wanted to do.
I have never really been interested in anything else and when I look back over the last 40 odd years, it seems as if my entire life has been a preparation for being a painter. Being a painter has not always been easy. There have been many ups and downs along the way, some good and some not so good, but no matter how difficult things get, painting remains my passion and my true love.
The funny thing is that in all of those years of painting, I never really thought much about what it meant to be an artist or why or how I became one. It just seemed like something that was there, something that happened to me long ago and had never really changed. It was just always there.
As time went on however, I began to notice some changes in the way people looked at art and artists. When I was young there were many struggling young artists who were just barely getting by because they sold their work
Artists and art critics have argued over the entrance of abstract, conceptual and contemporary works into the canon of fine art. What is debated less often is the way that art changes meaning through time, as it moves in and out of the spotlight.
A painting can be a fine example of a particular moment in time or a mediocre representation of what a painting was originally intended to be. It can be a successful work or an unsuccessful one. But it may also become something else entirely by virtue of its popularity.
The value ascribed to an artwork can shift suddenly, as people change their minds about what they want from art. A work that is valued for one thing in one period may be valued for its opposite in another.