Back To The Future

Back To The Future

Amusingly the title of the exhibition is appropriate as the title of this blog. The exhibition ended in November. I did feel that the review was particularly interesting as a contemporary perspective on history of art.

I have to admit to only having skimmed through it, but in doing so picked up on this paragraph which I found particularly interesting –

“But what is also certain is that many of the works on display in ‘Back to The Future’ were simply (and here Cilliers-Barnard is a case in point) a perpetuation of the Romantic myth of the artist-as-genius. That is to say the idea that an artists (sic) is a ‘seer’ of an esoteric and numinous world that the rest of humanity are incapable of accessing other than through the works of great genius – an idea that has, thankfully, been put on the funeral pyre of much other Romantic nonsenses.”

I still live in the era of the Romantic myth apparently.

And so I for one will go back and read Michael Blackman’s review properly and begin to tickle the tip of the iceberg of current views on art history.

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One thought on “Back To The Future

  1. I quickly scanned the review but I can see it needs a serious sit-down with my reading glasses and grey cells properly fuelled by coffee, so I will do so sometime next week. My comment now is at the level of personal opinion rather than intellectual discussion.

    I certainly grew up with the idea of the artist-as-genius who had this special sense and insight that ordinary mortals (like me) didn’t have. (I think we all grew up with that notion; it is part of our cultural heritage to believe that). But I have come over the years to seriously dismiss that idea. If the artist-as-genius exists, it is in no greater proportion than the existence of other individuals-as-genius in their respective professions. Yes, great art, literature and music speak to me, that is true.(When I say “great” I mean “great to me” – a subjective opinion, which already poses a problem, as does the term “genius”.) But I simply do not believe that art, music & literature alone have his property.

    Perhaps the idea of the artist having (and giving me) access to the “numinous” world is the problem. I do not really believe in the idea of a spiritual world, and I do not believe that I possess such a thing as a spirit. This does not mean that I do not see that there is a fantastic world of mystery – a world of things unseen and unknown. But (for me) access to that world is provided more by scientific discoveries, theories and ideas, than by art. When I look at (and try to understand) ideas in neuroscience, physics, maths and (to a lesser extent) biology and chemistry, it gives me a thrill, a sense of wonder, a sense of meaning and my place in the universe, that I seldom find in looking at art.

    Yet, I am passionate about art – looking at it, and making it. You may think that is a contradiction to my statements in the paragraphs above, but it is not. It is simply that art’s function (for me) is this: 1) The process of making my own art allows me to express myself and the ideas that I have about the world and my place in it. It is just one way of doing it – there are other ways and I don’t feel that my way is “special”. 2) The process of looking at the art of others tells me about myself. I find it rather interesting to reflect on why I like a specific work of art and why I respond to it (rather than think about why it is a “good” or “bad” work of art). It is for me a type of self-reflection or self-analysis – the only kind I allow myself … In addition, looking at art tells me something about the person that made it. So looking at art informs me about myself and others around me. Again, there are other ways to do this.

    What I am trying to say is that there are many different forms of creativity, and they all allow us to make meaning. Creativity, I would say, is more important than art.

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