Art as Decoration?
You worked long hours, sometimes tedious hours, to get each piece just right. At the start it was the idea, the composition, the lines, the light, the message. You poured yourself into each image. The final “processing” helped you to share yourself, your inner thoughts that words could not express. Now you are standing next to just eleven of your works from the past five months. These are the ones the gallery selected, but they hung them, just these, yours, in a side gallery of your own. It had been a hectic week to get everything ready, the artist’s statements, the business cards, all the details. But now the lights are on, the doors are open.
People are actually coming, coming to see your works of art. An elegantly dressed lady approaches your “Holiday Market”. Oh, she stops, she is actually looking at it! She hardly diverts her glance as she takes a sip of her Chateau Gloria St. Julien. The gallery has really gone all out. Well it isn’t just for you, four other artists are having their exhibits alongside of yours.
This appreciative art aficionado has taken a liking to your piece. She hold the wine glass daintily by the stem. You can’t help but notice the large diamond on her ring. She step back but continues to admire your painting. You can hear your heart pounding, hoping nobody will notice.
The stylish lady turns to her husband behind her, “Isn’t this marvelous? The colors would match beautifully with the new carpeting in the downstairs guest room!”
“Match … carpeting?” The words hit you like a ton of bricks. None of the emotion, none of the nostalgia, none of the holiday spirit, that you worked so hard to bring out in your image, just the colors? Is your art seen as just a decorative accessory?
How should artists feel when their masterpieces, into which they poured their soul, are seen as decorations? Is this not insulting? Demeaning? Do we grit our teeth, smile graciously and take the money? Is this it?
Well, stand back and take a look at history. Art has always been decoration. Some of the most famous works were commissioned as decoration. Remember Pope Julius who commissioned that sculptor Leonardo to decorate the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? Even the great Rembrandt took a commission for a painting for a new city hall. The piece was rejected!
Much art is purchased to make living spaces pleasant. If it pleases the buyer, be proud, be happy.
Fine Art America recently added a feature to show pieces in familiar settings. Buyers can even use an app that shows the candidate pieces in their own homes. I am showing several of my works in these simulations. I have offered my pieces printed on gift items, from shirts to shower curtains, no snobbish attitude here. I am glad to make my admirers and customers happy.
First published in Our Arts Magazine on December 7, 2017
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