Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Hudson River School, Conceptualism, & My Approach to Art

gosh, that sounds grandiose! but i got to thinking & trying to work out some concepts - but mostly to start to understand what art is for me.

Albert Bierstadt: Sierra Nevada

in her last couple of posts, jan blencowe has written in response to this essay about the sondheim prize competition by michael salcman. she was, in particular, responding to his statement, "The Hudson River School painters were among the last artists to believe that art should be good for you; according to Robert Hughes, they suffered from the fallacy of "moral uplift"."

her response, in part, is, "being a lover of the Hudson River School and a painter of poetic, spiritual landscapes meant to uplift viewers I took exception to this idea. Hughes makes quite a sweeping statement ... . I'm not sure how you could even prove that statement, particularly in the face of 5,000 years of ... people ... confirming ... that they have been uplifted, morally and otherwise, by art."

this brings up a really interesting point about art: does one create art from a place of intent - that is, an anticipated reaction on the part of the viewer? or from the inner urgings of self-exploration, spirituality, &/or simply creativity & imagination? or both?

i too love the hudson river school (i saw olana when i was young - it filled me with the desire to make art & left a lasting impression). it is not, to me, 'moral' in the sense of good/bad, right/wrong culturally-based judgment. it is uplifting in the sense of presenting a glimpse into that which moves the viewer on a deeper level than what we usually experience with our very limited human senses. to experience this, i think we have to open ourselves to experience wonder - just exactly what art can do - for both the viewer & the artist!

in discussing art since the hudson river school, salcman writes, "Gradually the conceptual ethos took over the art world . . .. Conceptualism was critical to ... the death of the masterpiece, and the end of beauty. ... The scattered room, the polymorphous object and the rotoscope are the tired tropes of our time with little meaning other than the enactment of a predetermined philosophical bias." oh dear! not the art i want to make.

so what do i want to make? what do i want people to experience when they view my art? well, i know i want them to have fun! to be glad they have seen it, to enjoy the glimpse into my perceptions of the world that my art may give them - maybe even give them an opening to see things a bit differently in unexpected ways. and, as i begin to explore doing landscapes, to open to that sense of spirituality that i find in the hills, fields, streams, mountains, oceans, trees, rocks, earth, & sky. it's that sense of seeing/exploring/revealing/developing my inner world, including my spiritual sensibility, that i want to convey in my art. even if that's just reveling in yummylicious baked goods or floating cherries!

Frederic Church: West Rock, New Haven

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