ART FOR ARTISTS’ SAKE

Art, like language, is a form of communication, but with slightly different goals. The goal of art, like almost anything else beyond mere survival, is to create pleasant sensations and enjoyment, that is, entertainment. The only question is the best way to do that. Meaning is secondary, only one of many sorts of entertainment. Any meaning ascribed to a portrait is usually of the simplest sort, nostalgia and sentiment for an object of affection. Landscapes are no different, really, love of the known sort, simple sensations. With Impressionism and Cubism and Surrealism, we move through increasing levels of abstraction, to the point where familiar objects are non-existent, grossly distorted, or unrecognizable. So what sort of entertainment comes from the pure abstraction of Expressionism? Abstract meaning, one would assume, the pure thrill of colors and textures having their way with canvas. This is probably not true, however, given the implication that anyone, or at least anyone with high intellectual capacity, could and would find enjoyment in it. In actuality enjoyment seems to come from deriving the sort of meaning that comes from having studied art and knowing its trials and travails over the course of history. In other words, the works are derivative, dependent on prior study of other material, high art in the sense of highly schooled art, largely useless for those not in the club.

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