Yesterday, toward the end of Catherine and Graham’s visit, we sat on the couch, soaking up a little more conversation.
We love books, and keep a rotating collection on different shelves and tables around the house. Catherine found The ART Book, and flipped through it while we talked.
After more than a year living overseas, they have been to many European cities, and visited more than Graham’s share of museums and galleries.
Catherine is a phenomenal multi-media artist in her own right; this I knew, but I had no idea she was so knowledgeable about art and art history until we sat down with this book.
Several things came up in our conversation
- I don’t know nearly as much as I would like to about art movements and styles, but I am drawn to some more than others (hello, Klimt)
- on average, if I were going to look at a lot of it, I prefer three-dimensional artwork (sculpture, mixed media, textiles, etc.) to paintings
- that said, there are so many different painting styles and techniques – see the first point
- when we talk about Art, there is an over-emphasis on and over-representation of western art
If I make a point of it, I can surely learn more about art – styles, movements, techniques. But this question of what counts as art intrigues me.
A couple of years ago, my brother made an extended trip to Indonesia. For Christmas this year, he gifted Kristina and me with beautiful carved masks. These gifts are deeply personal, chosen just for us.
And even if they weren’t, the artistic merit of the masks would stand alone: the detail, the precision, the emotion revealed in the faces.
But I didn’t see much like that in The ART Book.
I didn’t see a lot of First Nations bead work, or hand-carved djembes (warrior drums) from West Africa, or Guatemalan textiles, or Japanese raku-glazed ceramics. Some might argue that these are crafts, not art.
Seriously? Is this the right distinction to make?
Are they crafts instead of art because they do not come from a long line of church-sponsored artistic tradition? Because they use traditional iconography from other traditions?
Likely, I am betraying my own lack of knowledge on the subject. Still, I know what I like. And I call it art.
What do you like? What graces the walls of your home? What do you call art?