Observations from Stories of Art and The Neo Avant Garde

Having read Stories of Art  by James Elkins, and watched the Neo Avant Garde lecture, we were asked to note down some observations we have made and/or questions.

Stories of Art : Some thoughts…

So to sum up the book, Stories of Art, art history is thought of in predominantly Western terms, but over the years, there have been a few attempts to add in other non-Western chapters, and in our recent attempts to be “multicultural” and with the advent of the World Wide Web we are in a dilemma, because the world seems more connected, yet we would not have the time or the resources to teach a complete international history of art, or write it into one complete publication. So in the Western world, we consider the stories of art which are most relevant to our culture, and we are not about to change our habits it would seem.

The maps Elkins shows us at the beginning of the book fly in the face of conventional art history, almost making a mockery of what has gone before, inviting us to rethink art history in our own self-indulgent way. He makes the subject feel much more lighthearted, and gives us the green light  to focus on the parts that we want to or feel affect our practice the most.

It seems to me anyone’s map of at history would change over time, especially when studying, as personally at present I am discovering artists and important facts on a weekly basis.  It’s a bit like the ancient explorers discovering new lands, charting new territories, sailing into unknown waters. Those undiscovered remain unmapped, but with the world at the touch of a button, it is more likely that they will be discovered than they would have been twenty years or more ago.

Maps have changed over the ages; parts of the earth have been lost to the seas and natural disasters, landscapes have changed due to man’s intervention. In other words, the map of the earth has evolved over time, and will continue to do so forever, as will our own personal maps of the history of art.  Should you plot parts of your map which were once historically important to you, or should you draw a map of where your practice is at now? Is there a wrong or a right answer?

My Story of Art (as posted previously)


The Neo Avant Garde

Yves Klein, Niki de Saint- Phalle, Piero Manzoni, and John Latham… Selling out or not? Its a bit of a dilemma, creating art that is anti institution yet showing it in Galleries and Museums around the world. But if it was not in galleries or museums there was no internet in thsoe days, so maybe the art would not have had a wide enough audience. Also maybe the artist secretly was being subversive, appearing to have sold out to everything he stood against because he was trying to mock the establishment by being inside it and still making a statement, or maybe he was wanting to prick the conscience of a middle class audience that may not have otherwise seen his work.