Tuesday, January 3, 2012

When does an artwork fail?

Happy New Year!
I had planned on posting this before the holidays, but I was travelling and things got away from me. On a recent visit to an academic institution I observed the following:

This got me thinking about the success of visual works of art, and when and how they fail. I think a work fails when it becomes acceptable to place a giant planter full of plants, and all kinds of information boards in front of the work.

I commented on this to a friend who was with me at the time, and she stated that in the many years she had visited this institution, she had never noticed that sculpture before. How long has it been there? How long has it been completely ignored by all who chance to see it?

I tried to find out more about the sculpture, by the attempted examination of the placard on the wall adjacent to the object. This was difficult because of all the items blocking the path. I managed to snap a quick photograph of the placard however. The quality is not that great due to limited space restrictions caused by other objects. It can be viewed below.

This post is not meant merely as a criticism of those that own the art. They have their reasons for posting information in that area. It could also be argued that this is a rationale for the periodic exchange of new works in any given space. A fresh update of several works a year would revitalize the area and provide a different feel each time the work was switched out. Rather, this post is meant as reflection on when a work of art has become tired, and has failed to capture the interest of the viewer.

As artists it is our job to communicate with the observer. Part of this conversation takes place in the context of how the art work is presented, which may or may not be in our control. However, the value of what is expressed in the work is under our control, and it is this issue that artists must focus on.

Upcoming Calls to Artists

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Never thought about this until reading your post...the art work looks to me like a mass produced room divider. With a different presentation, the placard more visible for one thing, it would indeed be more noticeable as a work of art.