The Coming of Age of Art
Having grown up in a painting family, having studied painting for many years, and having received a degree in fine arts, I feel I may have something to say on the matter of the coming of age of art. By no means do I consider painting or graphical art the only form of art, rather it is one I am most comfortable addressing and working in and one that will be presented here…
No more fickle a master is there than painting in this day and age. All bets are off as to what can pass for artwork. An individual may freely fling paint upon a surface of their choosing and from this create what may be considered by many a masterpiece of art. However, in the early days of art, this would not have been such an accepted practice. Rather the perpetrator of such activities may be seen as possessed, and possibly burned at the stake; imagine Francis Bacon’s Triptych being painted in the 1400’s. Granted this is a bit of an exaggeration, but none the less what was considered art in the 1400’s has greatly expanded in the current age.
But why is it the case that artwork has shifted to such an amazing variance of application. Is it the case that the human form, as it relates to art, holds no mystery and those seeking expression through painting do not wish to be confined to such a small sliver of what can be accomplished with a painting medium? I think this is more the case than other thoughts I have entertained. For the average artist, the thought of competing with a Leonardo, a Raphael, or a Michelangelo may be too much to bear and because of this there is the desire to find a proverbial “new way up the mountain”.
As I began to study art, I had a bias towards realism and could not come to understand what it was in an abstracted painting, or a non-representational painting that drew people to create these forms of art. Through time I have come to understand, not the complete picture, but a bit more of the picture and realize that strict adherence to a realistic application of paint in a manner of the High Renaissance is not able to capture all that may be able to be had from painting. Granted there is emotion in the Mona Lisa, but I feel the same amount of emotion, if not more, can be garnered from viewing the Velazquez copy done by Bacon of the Pope. A gnashing of teeth and a sickness seems to be infused in each stroke on the canvas and with this provides a more visceral interaction with the art.
So as an artist in this day and age we should be thankful for the ability to paint however we want and thankful for the abundance of pre-packaged materials at our disposal. No grinding of pigments for us, unless we choose to experience the grinding of pigments. No strict doctrine dictating how we paint, unless we choose to follow a strict set of guidelines. It is a truth that the coming of age of art has done nothing but expand the boundaries of art and in doing so has provided more would be artists with the ability to come of age as an artist.
With this I say if you paint, draw, write, or create in any manner that would have you be considered an artist, if only by yourself, then ensure you are creating what it is that you desire to create, in the manner you desire to create it, and let no force hold you back from the creative path that you desire to travel.
Peace to you from all of us at Coming of Age Books
The painter from of painting wrote this article.