Thursday, February 04, 2010

Episode 51 -How Do We Explain Ourselves??!

In this episode Andy ( See?! He's not last this time!), Patrick, Socar, Drew, and Jeremy talk about:
How we explain our profession to non-Ninjas.
The vague line between illustration and fine art.
More about every Ninja's favorite book, "Frankenstein", as beautifully illustrated by none other than the amazing Bernie Wrightson.
The sleeping habits of a certain Ninja.
The disappearing craft of inking and...
The Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Subscribe on iTunes, or the noodly goodness that is the Flying Spaghetti Monster will be consumed by alien factions bent on human conquest...

If you strain your hearing you may even be able to make out Socar's hushed tones.
We think she was in the kitchen preparing dinner while joining in our conversation, but we will let you be the judge.
Points will be awarded for the best explanation of her microphone's poor sound quality! :)


Gordon Napier said...

Yay, fist comment. I completely agree with Patrick's manifesto, on the false recent division between fine art and illustration. This is something that has annoyed me since I was at college. Patrick is the daddy.

CGriffin said...

I was really interested in the 'fine art vs. illustration' topic you guys explored in this episode.

Historically, 'fine art' was considered simply 'art for art's sake', as opposed to the applied arts which were created for a specific commercial purpose. The same techniques and talents were involved, of course, but IMHO the BIG sticking point (today) is uniqueness. Digital art has changed the face of illustration. There is seldom an original anymore, which contributes to the value of a painting.

Traditional-media painting, done for commercial purposes, SHOULD then have the same value as a fine art piece, provided it's of quality. Guess it depends upon whether or not it matches your couch...heh...

Ben Powis said...

'Creepy' and 'Eerie' look great, thanks for the recommendation Patrick!

Gordon Napier said...

Creepy and Eerie sound like the two goth dwarfs who were kicked out of the house by the other seven.

Unknown said...

Thanks for all the comments, all! I'm happy to hear I don't sound like too much of a crazy person with my "fine vs. illustration" art ideas. It's something I've done a lot of thinking about, and it's great to have the conversation.

I do want to address the "art for art's sake" by saying that, in our Western traditions especially, that was usually not the case until the mid-1800s. Artists worked for clients, be they the wealthy, the government, or the Church. Of course sometimes they painted a piece that they hoped would sell later to a wealthy buyer, but I think it was still a commercial endeavor.

I completely agree about the argument about the "unique" qualities of a piece of art. However (without making any conclusions because I don't have one) this begs the question of how, say, a Rembrandt etching fits into the scheme of things. Would that be strictly commercial? One would tend to think not, but then what exactly are our criteria? Food for thought.

And to change the subject completely: Ha - I like that idea of Creepy and Eerie being the weird and off-putting dwarfs who were banished from the household before the movie began. And Ben - glad you think they look interesting. You won't be disappointed if you decide to get them. :)

CGriffin said...

Patrick, sadly, we can't go back in time and re-live history. Gone are the days of 'patrons' (even if, 9 out of 10 times, it was the Catholic Church!) We have to work in today's climate. I'm heartened to see illustrators being valued with more frequency. But regarding Rembrandt's etchings...dude. It's REMBRANDT. His mark on art history is what's made him valuable in ANY form! :D

Unknown said...

Completely agreed on Rembrandt... but other than "he's great" what exactly is the difference? I wanna keep the conversation rolling on this! :D

Gordon Napier said...

It would be nice to think that the 'modernist' attitude to fine art will naturally die, as Patrick suggested, but I'm not sure. Regarding the British scene, people like Tracy Emin now get invested into the Royal Academy (Hurst declined membership). Once reserved for the likes of Waterhouse, Leighton, Millais and Reynolds, this institution now reflects how pretentious abstractionists and conceptualists dominate the establishment. There is something of a revival of realist/figurative fine art elsewhere, but we who appreciate that sort of thing and who gravitate towards examples of it (between and ARC, for example) may give ourselves a false impression of how much momentum this movement has, and how valued it is.
The hypocrisy of modernist art criticism is that critics dismiss as kitch in Victorian academic art the very qualities they profess to find worthy in works from the Renaissance. There's an artificial point (somewhere between 1860 and 1917) whereafter they must profess to love everything 'progressive'. It's a bit of a disgrace that one can get a degree in art having heard little of Waterhouse and nothing of Bouguereau or Gerome. Sorry to rant all over your mountain, guys, but the issue touches a nerve. 'Illustrators', figurative artists, are the true heirs to the best of the western artistic tradition, and it's time they regained their usurped heritage!

CGriffin said...

I think Gordon said it best. The supposed intellectualism of the modern art movement is a stubborn nut to crack, and it insinuates itself into the image of fine art to this very day. It takes itself so damned seriously that when it doesn't, 'they' deem it 'lowbrow'.

But like I said, it IS changing. And collectors seem to be getting younger. Not sure what more I have to say on the Rembrandt front, except "He's awesome, and he's dead!" ;)

Unknown said...

Gordon - feel free to rant! That's what the comments are for. :)

Christine, I think "supposed intellectualism" is a perfect phrase to use in this case! And it probably gets to the root of my frustration. "Intellectualism" itself is a good thing, to be encouraged and admired, but when it's base snobbery or unthinking conservatism masquerading as actual thought, it becomes corrosive.

That really grinds my gears! :)

Gordon Napier said...

Thanks for the ranting licence, Patrick, but I'm not sure you want to get me started! ;) Suffice to say, I also thought the phrase 'supposed intellectualism' really sums it up.

David Michael Wright said...

Hey! Did someone say we were free to rant! Yee ha!

Hi Ninja Mountainians!

Great episode! Really enjoyed the show, I’m catching up slowly but surely through the podcasts to the current stuff. Really enjoyed the fine art topic this week and can definitely relate to that one, I’ve had the very legitimate fine art chip well and truly welded onto my shoulder over the years with very similar experiences to those described by the ninjas in this and the past episodes on the topic. I’ve tried to reach some internal compromise on the issue many times myself, but I ultimately don’t think that it’s possible (sort of an oil and water thing) and pretty much gave up a few years back. I think – by all means use the fine art/modern art market ‘if you can’ to benefit financially (without sacrificing your honesty, sanity, dignity, pride, self respect, etc etc) and if they’ll let you into the whole ‘emperors new’ fashion show without the occipital lobotomy that I guess must come as standard these days.
I really don’t like the modern fine art mentality (as I see/understand it), in that it seems to ridicule and actively seek the destruction of any sense of objective merit in art, and art education, and replace it with what seem to me like a series of chaotic and highly subjective, and for the most part nonsense value judgements in turn based on popular opinions supported and stimulated by a few wealthy businessmen/art buyers and a lot of hot air. I really thought Patrick spoke very well on this topic, and I think and hope he’s right, and ‘fine art’ (in the modern sense of the term) will ultimately burn out and die naturally all by itself, and that people will eventually wake up, wise up, reject the stuff they are being conditioned to believe is good, and start to judge given objects of art by themselves on their inherent individual merits again - without the location and artist’s ‘sales pitch’ being necessary accompaniments to tell the viewer what it is that they are supposed to see and understand. A load of red shiny bollards is still just a load of red shiny bollards – even in a shiny white gallery with a pretentious shiny smug chap with a shiny suit spouting shiny crap about it.

I like to think of myself a pretty calm and mellow… fellow! : ), and I think I’ve only one chip on my shoulder so far in my life (which is not bad going : ), and this is it, ‘fine art’ (note my deliberate and insidious use of a tiny ‘f’ and ‘a’ woohahaha!). I didn’t ask for it but is there none the less, it’s a legitimate chip, and I’m not at all ashamed of it.

Viva la revolution! (what the heck’s wrong with dragons anyhow :)

Great show! Keep up the good work! : )

Dave : )