was: Smithsonian jury
I, and the movement I mention (which is very real, by the way) are not saying that we want to go back to pretty pictures by any means. What it is is to recognize craftsmanship, whatever the medium may be. The notion that someone who goes out and picks up stuff and arranges it so, so artfully deserves equal if not greater weight than someone who creates an item which has never existed before is, well, "offensive" comes to mind.
What is a painter or sculptor ever doing but arranging shapes and
forms? Have they always invented each one? If a painter works from a
photograph, aren’t they collecting something? If a sculptor uses a
casting of something in a composition, is that cheating? When a
mosiacist makes patterns from different colored rocks, a jeweler
comes up with a dazzling combination of a photographer
juxtaposes disparate images, or a woodworker matches veneers in a
kaliedoscopic manner, aren’t they making something that never existed
before? Why can’t assemblage artists use craftsmanship as well as
anyone else? What is it if not knowing what you’re doing with the
materials you choose (whatever their origin), and how to achieve the
effect you’re striving for?
I'm not talking about content, or saying that abstraction is a bad thing. I'm talking about plain old everyday craftsmanship, whether metal, paint, beads or fabric. A pile of rocks is merely a pile of rocks. A sculpture carved out of marble, even if you or I don't like it, deserves more from all of us.
I don’t know why it would be more respectable to carve a sculpture
out of a block of marble that looks like a pile of rocks than to
start with individual rocks and pile them (with craftsmanship). It
would certainly be less wasteful of the earth’s resources. Shouldn’t
we judge art by the final result - the impact it has on us - and not
by the work that may or may not have gone into it? If one subscribes
to a standard like that, every hand-knotted Persian rug must be worth
more than any painting, and every painting worth more than any
photograph - why doesn’t the market agree?