The April 2006 issue of Art News is currently tackling some serious issues from around forty years ago: the validity of artists who paint from photos; artists who work between abstraction and representation; artists who work in multiple styles and media. Riveting! Of course, no subjective opinion is given on behalf of the authors, no thesis is deeply investigated and no great thought is ever pursued. Rather, a half-hearted attempt to create content within the magazine is reflected.
Why there should be any sense of profundity, let alone an argument, about the validity of painting from a photograph is beyond the attention that should be dedicated to the cover of the magazine. But, then again, it only reflects the sense of style that art magazines seem to delve into with greater and greater frequency by offering us a “glimpse” into what’s “hot” and “trendy” in the art market. Such analysis is probably better suited for the bulls and bears in the triangle below Canal. Though, it should not be too surprising if we see Damien Hurst’s name appear on the NASDAQ before the end of the decade.
Is painting from a photograph cheating? Whether debating about the intellectual subject of the painting (the photo or the subject of the photo), there still exist issues of light, form, space, stroke, color, mixing, and on and on and on. But moreover, it’s an antiquated belief that working with any optical device destroys the divinity of the image. After all, the sacred space created within a painting echoes back to the time before the Renaissance when a painting existed as the iconic representation of Jesus/God. Arguments against the use of photography as a tool for painting can trace a direct lineage to such similar sentimentality. The only difference is if you are caught using an optic tool to create a painting today the Catholic Church will not punish you with death.
What becomes disturbing in this trilogy of features is the proclivity in the final article, Boundary Issues, to present the toxic information of price into the equation. Rebecca Spence twice provides the reader with sales prices for painters who straddle the line between abstraction and representation. How does price even enter into the studio space when it comes to the creation of the piece? I’m happy for Kristin Baker to be able to sell out a show three years after graduating with an MFA from Yale. But, what does that have to do with the content or even the subject of her work?
Hi-gloss does not mean hi-content.