apropos the didactic

There should be no doubt, De Botton has a totally instrumentalist view of art, which many of us – especially artist I would believe, oppose.

But it might first be necessary to amplify, it is not art, but the art world, that should be didactic:

DE BOTTON: There are lots of attacks on the art world, from all sorts of directions. People say the art world is pretentious, people say it’s a close-knit coterie driving up prices; you could criticize it from many different angles. Ultimately, the art world doesn’t make it easy for people to use art in the way it should be used, which is to negotiate the great challenges of life. I think that art has a great therapeutic dimension, and the art world doesn’t help you find your way to that.

de Bottons critique is not directed towards any kind of art, he uses art from many kinds of epochs and genres as examples in his book, what he is questioning, are the institutions where art are shown and discussed, including universities and the media.

So, lets go back to instrumentalism:

PADDLE8: This is an instrumentalist view of art.

DE BOTTON: Totally instrumentalist. It’s very unfashionable but I’m totally into instrumentalism, 100%. And some people go, “Well, you’re using it this way but what if someone else wants to use it this way and another way?” And I think that’s great — there’s not just one instrumentalism. People get offended by instrumentalism because they think they need to say, “Richard Serra means this” or, “Gauguin is that,” whereas it’s actually more like, “Well you could go this way with Richard Serra, or that way, or that way.” There are many paths, but the point is you want to go somewhere with it, and you should be able to say where.

SAM_0232

As you can see, todays illustration is not derived from the art world but from reality … (how about that?! …)

4 comments on “apropos the didactic

  1. I haven’t read de Botton though I have read much about him and many quotes by him. I suppose I ought to read something by him soon. This passage interests me because of the parallels with literary criticism:
    “People get offended by instrumentalism because they think they need to say, “Richard Serra means this” or, “Gauguin is that,” whereas it’s actually more like, “Well you could go this way with Richard Serra, or that way, or that way.” There are many paths, but the point is you want to go somewhere with it, and you should be able to say where.”

    I often think certain pedagogical approaches to literary analysis–the ones Americans are taught in high school–or how we are taught to “interpret” poems–do not allow enough exploration of alternate paths. I would say we cannot always know what the writer or artist meant; what art can do for viewers/readers is to point them in a direction that makes them WANT to go somewhere with it, be moved by the art, and if the viewer cannot say “why” the work makes him or her feel that way, at least the fact that art can take us somewhere, anywhere, has “utility.”

    • I think it would be a good thing for the art-world if the public felt more free about how to use art in their own way. I’m looking for a way to unveil art, a way to tear art out of the hands of experts and into ordinary, everyday life, where we all are living.

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