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Craftsmanship and Assemblage

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?

Andrew Werby
www.unitedartworks.com

What is a painter or sculptor ever doing but arranging shapes and
forms? Have they always invented each one and> why doesn't the
market agree? 

Part 1: We all know that. That’s art 101 and I just didn’t feel the
need to rehash it. #2 The market does agree, and that’s kind of the
whole point. Better work sells better. My comments are not really
directed at the market so much as the lofty aims of museums and shows
and what is considered “High Art”. The difference is, to continue
with rocks, that when one picks up rocks they are rocks. When/if I
carve rocks, they are MY rocks, as an artist. Pretty obvious
really…

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com

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? 

If one hasn’t seen the work of Andy Goldsworthy one should. This is
art at the highest level. All done with natural materials.

It’s all assemblage. Google his name and enjoy a real treat. There
is a video out on his work. Its a must see. It is awe-inspiring. It
will make you rethink so many things about your own craft/art as well
as the natural world.

Carla
www.carlamfox.com