Saturday, February 14, 2009

About quality

I have often heard people ask whether there is such a thing as quality in art. Is some art better than other art or is it just your opinion versus mine? Isn't it totally subjective? What I tell them is this.
My daughter came home from school one day and told me this question had come up in class and she found herself the only one in her class defending the idea of quality in art. She was also the only one who was raised in an art gallery, and certainly the only junior in her high school who had personally closed the deal on a $7000.00 painting in her dads gallery and walked away with a 10% commission. What I formulated for her as a high school level argument was this....
I suggested she tell them she played guitar as well as Hendrix. No kid in her class is going to buy that for an instant. No way! Jimi was a better guitarist they all will insist. . ..Hendrix was the better guitarist, he just was! they exclaim in frustration at such an absurd claim. They have no problem with the idea of quality in music.
In part because I never hear this argument from folks who have spent a lot of time painting. I would suggest that the more you know about painting the less subjective it becomes. I have spent my life trying to paint well. I do it perceptibly better than some one who has not. I have to some extent sought and found quality. I think most of us who have worked hard at painting realize in a short time that there are artists we admire, that they have certain things in common that are good, and that those things being somewhat rare, make those artists special. More so than another artist without those qualities. There are qualities great paintings have and weak paintings lack.
The reason I am talking about quality in this post is that I held this painting by Willard Metcalf up in my last post as an example of great painting. Tomorrow we will begin looking more closely at it and I will give you an idea why I think that it so, and how we might apply some of those ideas to our own paintings.
image; www. artrenewal.or

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