Tag Archive: value

Art and Appropriation

The Dolce & Gabbana Fall 2013 collection got me thinking about ideas of art and appropriation. The collection was inspired by mosaics from the Monreale Cathedral in Palermo, Sicily. I always enjoy seeing people inspired by art for their own work. But does it lose something when taken from its original setting? Something like mosaics, for example the mosaics that inspired the Dolce & Gabbana collection, that are from a religious setting. Their original intent was likely to illustrate religious stories and inspire feelings of piety and awe. So what happens when the idea of these mosaics is translated into an entirely different medium, such as fashion? Obviously the meaning changes. In the case of simple inspiration I think this is a good thing. Looking at art and translating it into your own way doesn’t do any harm to the original, and indeed may give a new appreciation of it.

From the Fall 2013 Dolce & Gabbana collection

From the Fall 2013 Dolce & Gabbana collection

The problem arises when art is just plain ripped off, and exploited for commercial purposes. What happens to a work when someplace takes it and puts it on a shirt or umbrella? There’s no unique interpretation it just becomes another object for sale. And while most art is/was originally for sale, when the image is on a t-shirt or something it can be sold over and over and over again. Really comes down to what Walter Benjamin discusses in The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. I’m not sure if the original work necessarily has an aura that fades, but I do think that the more an image is reproduced the further it gets from its original meaning/intent. The more people seen an image the less special it becomes.
monalisaumbrella monetwaterliliestop
It’s also interesting when museums adopt a work of art as their mascot, so to speak. For example, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has taken on the blue hippopotamus from ancient Egypt as a mascot of sorts. Certainly that changes the original meaning; it went from being a piece of a burial ceremony and representing one of the most dangerous animals these people had to deal with, to a happy, welcoming mascot of a large institution. The Mona Lisa is another example of a work that has taken on the identity of a museum in a way. It has become so associated with The Louvre that it’s hard to separate the two. And a painting that was done by an Italian painter has since become a symbol of France.
I’m torn about how I feel about all of this. On the one hand, I hate seeing art being so displaced for purely commercial purposes. On the other hand I’m all about making art more accessible to people, and if putting it on a shirt or whatever brings awareness, and perhaps makes people interested in an artist or art, it’s not an entirely bad thing. I think overall people just need to be respectful of the original piece when taking it for use elsewhere. As always, I welcome others’ opinions.


Art vs. Craft

            Sorry I’ve been neglecting this lately.  I haven’t had much motivation or inspiration to write.  I need to go to a gallery or museum or something.  It’s been too long since I’ve surrounded myself with art.  Recently most of my creative energy has been going towards my various craft projects.  I’ve been doing a lot of spinning.  There’s always crocheting and I’ve recently taken up knooking (which is knitting with a crochet hook).  I do love my fibers.  It has got me thinking though, about the divide between art and craft.  I personally don’t think there needs to, or should be, such a divide.  I have seen a lot of beautiful crafts, some that rival even the finest of the fine arts.  It doesn’t seem very fair that these pieces that people put so much time, energy and creativity in to are looked down on because they’re “crafty.”  Why should a painting be regarded so much more highly than say, a quilt?  I’m sure the reason is frustratingly sexist.  Back in the day men were the artists and women were crafty homebodies, therefore paintings and sculpture were better.  But you’d think by now the walls could have been broken down a bit.  Then again, there’s always been a struggle to decide on an hierarchy within the arts.  I think everyone wants their medium to be the superior one.  Way back in the day painters weren’t considered artists, they were just trades/craftsmen, and they managed to move up the ranks.  But crafts aren’t even in the discussion. 

        I suppose maybe it could be an originality/creativity issue.  It’s true that a lot of people who craft follow a pattern or instructions.  But even then there’s still some creative input – fabric choice, colors, yarn choice, things like that.  There’s always some personal touch.  And there’s still the skill needed to properly execute the piece.  Besides, it’s not like artists are completely original all the time.  They may not follow a pattern, but they can copy a style or method.  And not all crafters follow patterns; many create completely on their own.  Why shouldn’t they be considered as talented as painters and sculptors? 

        I think it’s high time that crafts and crafters get the recognition they deserve.  Just because their wares may have practical uses doesn’t lessen their importance, or the pieces’ beauty.  I think the art community is becoming more accepting of crafty elements, so hopefully that’s a step in the right direction. 


Needle and Thread, by me, 2005


Crochet 3, by me, 2006



Art and Money

            The other day I was looking at the blog of one of my former art teachers and read the entry about selling his work (which can be read here: http://paintthepainting.wordpress.com/2011/03/02/lets-break-up/).  It made me kind of sad.  As someone who will (hopefully) be entering the art world more seriously in the next few years it made me sad to think that one day I may start to see beautiful works of art as just thinks to be bought and sold.  Maybe I’m too sensitive for the business side of the art world.  I like knowing a piece’s history and back story (and not just for provenance purposes).  It adds to its charm and gives it character.  I think it’s also nice to know that a piece is going to a good home.

            And really, how do you put a value on a work of art?  Obviously if it’s done by a well known artist the piece gets a higher price.  I don’t think that’s necessarily fair though.  I’m sure there are a lot of pieces by relatively unknown artists that deserve to sell their work for just as much as the famous artists.  Then there’s the fact that an artist’s work tends to sell for more after their death.  That also doesn’t seem very fair.  Artists put so much time, money and emotion into their work, they deserve to see something back from that while they’re alive and can enjoy it.  If it’s a piece from a limited edition the ones near the beginning and end of the series are worth more than the ones in the middle.  One of a kinds are worth more than multiples, etc.  A lot of it just seems so arbitrary. 

            As much as it pains me to do so, I have to agree with Heidegger and his view of the art industry.  Heidegger says in “The Origin of the Work of Art” that, “The whole art industry, even if carried to the extreme and exercised in every way for the sake of works themselves, extends only to the object-being of the works.”  This is a shame because there’s so much more to a work than its object-being.  A piece is its place and time of creation.  It’s the artist’s hard work, emotions and memories.  How do you put a price on emotions and memories?  But that’s what artists selling their work have to do all the time.  And art dealers have to tell other people what their hard work and efforts are worth.  Even for commissioned pieces the artist may not have much attachment to they still have to put a value on themselves and their time.

            I don’t own many original works of art other than my own yet.  But as I grow my collection I hope I always keep a piece’s past in mind and honor it in the future.  I’d want the artists to feel confident his or her work is going to someone who values and appreciates it.  I hope I never lose my appreciation for art and beauty.