Thought— 1 Min Read

Art Philosophy Pt.1

by Case Greenfield, September 1st, 2021

Thought – 1 Min Read

Art Philosophy Pt.1

by Case Greenfield

September 1st, 2021

I cannot ‘just paint’ or ‘just create’. Whatever I make needs a story, a philosophy. It’s how my brain is wired, apparently. Despite the fair question whether a “Grand Unified Theory of Everything” makes sense at all, some sort of innate need for it in my brain urges me to create an art philosophy. Here’s a first try.

Building on ‘the beholder’s share’ and ‘no juries, no rejections’, I want to add an element of warm grounding to an artwork from the context of the art project the artwork is part of.

The Beholder’s Share – Alois Riegl

Introduced in the 19th Century by Alois Riegl (and still explicitly preached and practiced by eg. Jeff Koons), the notion of ‘beholder’s share’ was an attempt for a more scientific approach of art history (less subjective storytelling), that through psychology resulted in more subjectivity, but scientifically separated from the artwork, ie. into the beholder. An artwork was no longer a subject in itself, but an object, subjectively experienced by the audience.

No Absolute Truth In Art – Marcel Duchamp

In the 20th Century, Marcel Duchamp added the notion, that “there is no absolute truth in art, it is art when I say it is art”, everything is subjective interpretation. Did Duchamp say art is the opposite of science?

Existential Connection – Eric Kandel

Eric Kandel brings it back to the beholder, again. Each observer of the artwork may have a different image – creative experience, as Kandel says – in their brain about it. So, there is an existential connection between artwork and audience.

Postmodern art has become humanity’s escape from the limitations of reality. But this doesn’t mean that everything has become baseless, hence meaningless. In my view, the meaning of an artwork stems from its scientific and social context – the art project it is part of, explicitly or implicitly (what I called earlier ‘social reality’).

In the 20th and 21st Century, through the internet and globalization – and eg. global warming – and new perspectives eg. from astronomy ⭐ (not astrology 😎) humanity discovers how deeply connected we are at many levels on our little rabbit hole, the “pale blue dot“. Nothing stands apart. An artwork doesn’t just ‘fall from the sky’ (haha), it is always embedded in a technical/scientific and social/philosophical context. At the same time, the brain of Homo Sapiens simply isn’t able to perform robotlike purely scientific, mechanical creative acts or interpretations. The brain is fundamentally subjective and social. That is the big conflict: between the scientific reality and the social reality, between realism and romanticism, between ratio and emotion, between neocortex and limbic system/brain stem. Between science and art?

So, I try to build upon (no blank slate, remember) the lines of thinking of Riegl, Duchamp and Kandel:

Not just (1) the beholder’s share is part of an artwork, about which (2) there is no absolute truth, but also (3) the process of idea development of the art project – of which the artwork is a part – is an integral part of an individual artwork. Implicitly, this implies that any artwork is part of an art project – explicitly or implicitly. And, art may be an attempt to escape from the limitations of reality, yet, an artwork can never escape the influence of its technical/scientific and social/philosophical context, expressed in the art project it is part of – again, implicitly or explicitly.

Now, this adds an important element of storytelling and grounding to individual artworks. Also, combined with the beholder’s share and the lack of absolute truth in art, it aims to establish a much deeper subjective sense of warm grounding between the observer and the artwork by giving the artwork more context and, hence, meaning. It is important to stress, that for me, not the artist, but the process of idea development is crucial; the artist also may be an artist collective, an art movement or an art school, for instance. The artist is merely the human ‘carrier’ of the ideas. (Which raises the question whether in the future an AI may be such a carrier.)

Well, these ideas of mine about my art philosophy are not carved in stone. That’s why I named this story/thought Part 1. To be continued, for sure!