An Antique Artform?Recently, a friend commented, "The problem is that there
aren't any major theoretical problems rearing their heads in front of
painters". We are simply out of questions. We are left to render
"variations on a theme by . . . " in a world that worships the new and
unique. And, it is the new and unique that garners attention."
I couldn't have said it better. This certainly nailed the "problem" of painting in this day and age right on the button. It echoes my thinking almost precisely. I prefer not to think of painting as "dead" but as simply an "antique" artform as compared to the much more viable ways and means artist have today of expressing their thoughts and visions. There was a time when painters could have claimed, "Yeah sure, if I had a few million dollars I'd go off and make a really searing, important motion picture or TV docu-drama or some such other "important" communicative creation, but since I don't, I'll just have to be happy staying home with my paints and brushes and daubing around as best I can".
Today, however, such excuses don't hold up. Thanks to the relatively inexpensive "home" technology of video and computers those "few million dollars" are at best a few thousand dollars, and well within the grasp of any serious "artist" who wants to take the time an energy to master then. I'm not denigrating painting as an artform. It has its place and I think we all know what that place is, but let's face it, it is not now, nor is it ever again likely to be cutting edge. There will always be a market for paintings, there will always be painters, just as there will always be a market for antiques and those involved in preserving their beauty. But as a vehicle for creative communication, (which is a good, working definition art) its limitations become more and more pronounced by the hour.
Contributed by Lane, Jim
23 November 1997