Wednesday, 21 December 2011

UnMasterclass 51

In 1944 Robert Motherwell delivered a lecture at MOUNT Holyoke college in Massachusetts in which he discussed what it means to be a modern artist and how his perception of the art world created a condition that forced the artist into isolation away from religious (or as he discusses spiritual) and socialist ideals; a condition his art, in turn, came to represent. Through a discussion of shifts in the class structure he came to an interesting conundrum; “The artist’s problem is with what to identify himself. The middle-class is decaying and as a conscious entity the working class does not exist. Hence the tendency of modern painters to paint for each other.” Here Motherwelll appears to suggest that artists have lost a reason for their art, with the erosion of religion and the bourgeoisie ideals then the artists begin to lose an output for their art. And in turn they become more insular in their outputs, painting not for the churches or wealthy patrons, but for the artistic community. Motherwell’s argument is flawed, after all his first solo show was at Peggy Guggenheim’s Art of This Century gallery, surely an exempla of the new monied ruling class (as Motherwell put it “The present ruling class was able to gain it’s freedom from aristocracy by the accumulation of private property.”) But if we take Motherwell at his word and believe that the radical work associated with the Abstract Expressionists arose because these painters felt freed of producing art with a patron in mind and instead turned to producing art for themselves and their circle of fellow artists, then what does this mean in the age of the internet. Here we have entered a truly democratic age. Every web page is the same for each person, whether they be a princess or a refuse collector, just like the coca cola observations of Warhol. And so art that is put on the web is viewable and thus meant for anyone. Art made for the web is freed of being made for any form of class or even any pre-conceived choice of who they might be. On the web the artist has no choice of who their audience is and so are free to an even greater extent to produce what they wish. And yet with this comes even more responsibility. When one does not decide the audience for your work, then the artist must be sure of the work before it is put up for everyone’s viewing pleasure. Here is a gallery for the potential millions, if not billions of people from the biggest cross section of society imaginable. The bourgeoisies  is no more. Rest in peace. To view the latest UnMasterclass please visit

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