Grab Your Tomatoes, Tracy

KaufmannHouseChristie's.jpgRemember when Tracy and I used to argue about art on Locally Grown? She’d tell me that I vigorously promoted work that would barely make the cut for her refrigerator door and I’d counter that it was Monet’s Mother’s support for his early efforts that established the basis for those now highly valued pieces. Oh, in these times of prayer ladies, oxycontin stories, bid-rigging investigations, data practices violations, code of ethics questions, and, you heard it here first, tales of naked sushi, that era of tomato tossing seems like a long lost and much simpler period of our history.

Well, I for one miss those good old days. Rather than fill the air, or net, with, in my opinion, often poorly informed allegations and sometimes mean-spirited insinuations, I’d like to return to those days of unabashedly personal opinions and clearly good-natured challenges. Grab your tomatoes, Tracy; let’s fight about art.

My nostalgic notions this morning were inspired by an article I read on-line, Why Must Architects Prove Their Worth? It uses as its kernel Richard Neutra’s Kaufmann Desert House in Palm Springs and Christie’s efforts to auction the house as a work of art. The article then touches upon the never-answered question, “what is art?”.

The author, Johnathon Jones, then makes the, again in my opinion, rather questionable decision to get into Alfred Hitchcock’s movies. I think that this is part of architects’ conceit, perpetuated by Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead”, that they are the directing artist in the creation of a building. In fact (and this belief is no doubt due to my own conceit as a former real estate developer), it is the developer who is the coordinating artist, pulling together a creative team that includes the architect, contractor, financier, manager and marketer.

I think he would have been better off taking the well-worn dirt road of the so-called “crafts”. He is right to point out that some people don’t think the Kaufmann piece is art just because you can live in it. It’s the same argument made by those that dismiss a ceramic work because you can eat off of it, a one-of-a-kind jacket because you can wear it, or a hand-made oriental carpet because you can walk on it.

He closes with the interesting hypothesis that “Visual artists fought for centuries to define themselves as more than mere craftsmen. Now they are the aristocrats of creativity while film-makers, architects, musicians and wordsmiths are its proletarians”.

So I ask you Tracy, Which Side Are You On, Gal?

One Comment

  1. Tracy Davis said:

    Ross, you KNEW you were going to take the wind out of my sails when you mentioned the carpet, didn’t you?

    I’m gathering my arsenal of tomatoes and will be back atcha shortly.

    March 12, 2008

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