Lame “important” art vs. fun fan art

So, I saw a FB post from an art magazine showing some installation where someone (presumably a humorless art school prig, though I know my first reaction was to burst out laughing) printed a bunch of blah blah blah slogans about barriers and inclusion in foundation year of art school and all that crap onto some fabric banners and hung them up.

Please. The real barrier is a willingness to take on an obscene amount of debt to get berated about either how little talent you have, or how your talent doesn’t matter, or how your ideas are crap, or how you’re a tool of oppression. Mixed with some color theory and technical classes and a bit of art history distorted through the lens of the current fad of self-flagellation.

I suppose you could say the real barrier is common sense: if you have any, you’ll spare yourself the trouble and expense. Anything you need to learn to make art is available to you for free either through YouTube tutorials or for very little money through Amazon or you can always look to do one-off workshops for specific hands-on training (which will also help you network). You can network for free or cheap by going to local gallery openings and volunteering.

And if you’re gonna make a living at art, art school won’t teach you how to do that anyway. You have to figure it out on your own or again, look to Amazon for entrepreneurship books or YouTube for tips… and to YouTube to promote your work.

At some point most art schools went ultra-conceptual.

Y’know, the kinda crap that used to get funded by the CIA?

Exceptions exist and are mostly found in the art schools’ night and weekend continuing studies classes, not during the actual degree programs.

But anyway, printing blah blah blah on banners.

It’s easier than painting the Mona Lisa, ain’t it? Hell, it’s even easier than smearing paint around on the canvas… which might have been interesting when the first abstract expressionists were doing that 80 years ago, but goddamn that’s a (bowel) movement that’s overstayed its welcome.

But at least it was something, I guess. Better than the banners.

Those who can’t (or won’t) paint for real, smear paint around like a toddler. Those who can’t or won’t even do that, print some whining blah blah blah on banners (and you know they paid a print shop to make them, lol… it wasn’t even done by hand or even by Cricut by the actual “artist”).

Yawn… but yeah, put that BFA to good use, man. And yes, I would like large fries with that.

Your tax dollars at work, because this is the sort of “work” that no one will ever buy. (Other than maybe the CIA, but that was their jam during the cold war – do they still waste tax dollars on crap art now that their baby has taken off and no longer needs a constant IV of dollars to be viable since people are now so used to thinking abstract paint smears are a sign of sophistication so long as they match the sofa that you can buy all manner of no-name mass-produced faux-paintings at HomeGoods for cheap?)

Many times at galleries I have looked at abstract canvases and though, “OK, but what’s the point? It’s all been said/done before, why are we still doing it? And why should I care?” If art is meant to communicate a feeling or a message, doesn’t it mean it has failed when there is no discernible message in the work itself and the artist statement on the wall elicits none but eye-rolls, and the only feeling received is utter apathy.

I used to at least make a point of staring for what I figured was a polite amount of time, now I can’t be bothered. If a painting is interesting to me, I can stare for a long damn time. If it’s not, I just keep walking with hardly a glance.

But at least actual paintings took actual time and some level of thought, but not so much thought that they leave no room for other impressions and interpretations. These blah blah blah banner type of work, though, tells you exactly you you are supposed to think and agree with. As such, it isn’t art, it’s propaganda.

Pity that. At least the Soviet propagandists could actually draw, just as the abstract expressionists can actually mix colors… if nothing else.

I see videos of people doing acrylic pour “art” on Facebook and Instagram, and while the end results look cool, it all seems so pointless. Just pretty decorations… why bother other than as a product for sale?

It all comes back to the great yawn. Nothing the propagandists say is new and most of it isn’t even true, because if it was true, there wouldn’t be a need to be so shrill about saying it. And the pourists and the abstractionists often seem to not be saying anything at all. Either way, it’s the art of the spiritual 2 year old: either I will whine and demand you agree with me or I will be self-indulgent and smear paint and in both cases you must consider me clever for doing so, no matter how many others have done and said the same shit before me.


I’m reminded of the old Marilyn Manson lyric:

Everything has been said before
Nothing left to say anymore
When it’s all the same
You can ask for it by name

(Literally, in terms of hashtags and Amazon searches.)

So, the great yawn and who cares. Yet we still are driven as a species to make art or at least make lame and corrupted facsimiles.

Which raises the question: but what is the point? And does there need to be a point? And if there is no point, then why not do what you want? But why would you want to just smear paint around like a toddler? Are you really recapturing some sort of innocence and jubilation or are you blocked from what you’d rather be painting but think would be silly? And where does the block come from? Why does everything need to have such a pompous political posturing to be “art”? Where is the transcendent? Or even the observational? Where is the fun?

If nothing has any point, then why not do what would make you happy to do? Why try to impress humorless prigs that you’d never want to invite over for pizza anyway?

(Ergo, score one point for the pourists, maybe even the abstract expressionists except the pourists at least seem to be having fun and the abstractionists not so much.)

I think back to when I was a teen in art class. All of us, save one dude who liked painting buildings in a hyper-realistic style and was already getting commissions for that sort of thing, liked drawing people, particularly rock stars and movie stars and using magazines for source material because it’s not like Keanu Reeves was hanging around looking to sit for a portrait.

And thus art class was fun.

And if you really want a bullshit pompous explanation, I guess you could say we were exploring the iconography of our generational idols, celebrities who had achieved faux-transcendence via the import we all imposed on them due to the failures of more traditional religious and cultic practises. We took the ancient archetypes, stumbled upon the one that was most meaningful to us personally, and found the celebrity who most closely aligned with that archetype in our own personal cosmologies and then proceeded to find the most satisfying iconographic portrayals of such in the media products we had available to us at the local newsstands. Thus one classmate would draw Mariah Carey over and over and over again, and another would take the Osiris/Isis/Horus trinity in the form of Kurt, Courtney, and Francis Bean. And the weird Goth girl would draw Marilyn Manson and Trent Reznor obsessively (that was me, I had a whole sketchbook of Trent drawings which I think I finally threw out a few years ago… and now kinda wish I’d kept, lol… even though I can’t stand Trent now.)

As our civilization collapses from within, as we have lost our will to endure on the values that made our civilization strong and expansive (and one can argue that loss of will/confidence was willful sabotage from spiteful mutants within along with hostile outsiders as well as complacency and denial and apathy for the most part), the structures of the past hold no meaning and power to unite us. We have separated into tribes, but now the tribes are based in fandom… overlapping, to be sure, but tribes nonetheless.

And I get to thinking that maybe the most meaningful art we can make now is to go back to that high school fan art, but with the wisdom of the years to know that the celebrities pictured have no inherent power to save us (no matter how often I see people comment on the U2 fan groups on Facebook, begging for Bono to save the world and end the war du jour), and most wouldn’t care to even if they could (those same fan groups keep tabs on Bono’s every movement and it seems he’s on vacation in Italy this week). The point is a combination of that yearning for the archetypes.

And hey, it’s more fun than merely smearing paint around like an abstractionist, with none of the self-importance that comes from such supposedly serious explorations, let alone the blah blah blah banners.

The story goes that Lichtenstein’s career took off and left abstract expressionism behind when his young son challenged him to make a painting as good as his Donald Duck comic. And from then on, Lichtenstein was hooked. It was fun. And it was a statement about mass-media as well as industrialization… and all that other jazz the critics and historians drone on about while their students snore or catch up on Facebook.

We need to free ourselves from the shackles of the art school prigs and their desperate need for complex and ultimately nonsensical statements and justifications for everything.

You wanna make brightly colored banners? Then fucking do it and own it and don’t bother printing a bunch of dumb whining slogans to make yourself think it’s important.

(At the end of the day, nothing is important as we wait for the asteroid… at least nothing is important in terms of what we draw and paint.)

Me? Fuck it, I’m-a go back to drawing retarded rock stars. Because it’s fun.

And because I don’t give a shit what anyone else thinks anymore. And because probably more people will want to buy that kinda work than your propaganda banners.

(Well, until the next time we have a shortage of toilet paper, that is.)