“Ars gratia artis”
The latin phrase surrounds the head of a roaring lion each time you watch a film by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
“Art for art’s sake”
Goes the noble translation, which does little to convince me that the same shallow romance story redone every few years with a constantly thinner damsel and ever rougher men to reduce her complete humanity to her skeletal figure- lips, ass, bust, and hair- is art. (MGM is not uniquely guilty of this plunder)
Art for art’s sake.
Few pieces of art these days seem to match the motivation stated in the slogan. Little is done today for the sake of art, and that which is, inevitably has other underlying motivations. I could, of course, go on to blame our warped capitalism which insures that all life endeavors (if we are to attain the essentials to remain alive) have undertones of monetary value. I have even gotten to the point where I think of each move I make in green or red. (Though more of the latter as of late.)
Art for humanity’s sake.
Perhaps, instead we should value art as how it contributes to the greater conversation, specifically, its social influence, on how societal influences mold art, and how art in turn, shapes society. The beauty of this cyclical nature cannot be ignored.
To often people take a piece of art and try to critique it removed from its greater collection, its time period, its place in society. A flaw no different from taking a paragraph out of a holy scripture, and analyzing it removed from its religious connotations and historical significance. The problem is, the artist was a person within a social construct, that neither they or their art can be removed from. We cannot separate the painter from his place in society and more than we can separate the blue paint from the grey paint in his landscape’s sky.
A piece of art is more than what is on a canvas or in a song, it is everything that was around during its composition combined. It is a war, a romance, a depression. It is a class, a race, a decade. And, if this is true, as I strongly believe it is, our analysis of art is incomplete without truly incorporating these factors into our discussion.
I have long been interested in the politics of humanity. The structures that bind and control us. The freedom and enslavement found in being defined and composed of everything around us. It wasn’t until I began taking art classes this summer that I began to understand the impeccable and significant manner in which art embodies this concept, hence, why I am now devoting a section of my blog to Art, but not just cheap romance movies, Art that makes you think. I approach this endeavor not as a professional artist, or even an aspiring professional, but as an individual sharing my own reactions to various things; I invite you to do the same.
Comments, including links to other art, are not only encouraged, but pleaded for. A healthy dialog has more than one voice.