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Several years ago, I attended a very informative session on contemporary
art at NAEA given by Kim Kanatani of the Museum of Contemporary Art in LA.
In brief, Kim suggested that people often ask the question "why do artists
do that?" when confronted with contemporary art. In response to that
question, Kim generated a list of purposes that contemporary artists may
try to serve with their work. I've made a few additions and changes to the
list since then, but credit for the list should go to Kim. Here's the
modified list as I present it (w/slides) in my class:
Why do Artists Do That?
The following list of purposes for which a work of art might have been
created might prove helpful in sorting through the variety of art forms we
see today. A single work of art can serve more than one purpose.
Artists create to:
record images inspired by observations of daily life; connect us with
everyday experience, people or events.
celebrate the aesthetic qualities of common objects; transform the mundane
into an object of art; make the familiar strange, the ordinary
celebrate beauty as found in the aesthetic qualities of nature; record a
time or place.
demonstrate technical virtuosity; do something no one else can.
explore art that speaks about the basic elements of art; celebrate the
aesthetic qualities of line, shape, color, and so on.
convey dynamics of movement; explore relationships between time and space.
stimulate public discourse; provide social commentary; make people think.
emphasize the experience of looking at a work of art.
convey a feeling of human emotion; show human experience.
explore narrow and personal visions.
innovate; give up the old, break the rules; explore new approaches;
provide us with new visual experiences.
explore new materials and technologies to new forms of art.
express private, personal musings; explore the unconscious.
subvert, create irony; break established notions of how things should be;
change people's minds.
emphasize the importance of the idea rather than the object/product as the
work of art.
create optical effects; optics created by shadows and reflection of light.
raise questions about art traditions such as, "What is art?" "What is a
commemorate important people or events; reinforce cultural ties and
traditions; tell stories.
I should also mention that Kim has produced an excellent curriculum guide
complete with slides on Contemporary Art. Its expensive but worth it. Its
available thru MOCA (sorry, don't have an address handy).
In addition: I've found the book "Contemporary Art 1965-1990" by Bruce
Kurtz (Prentice Hall, 1992) helpful as a teaching resource. Lastly, I
should encourage you'all to take a trip to New York City or LA to scope out
the contemporary art scene. Lots has happened since Abstract Expressionism
(in reference to the emphasis on Abstract Expressionism in previous
postings on contemporary art :^)
Hope this helps some.
CRAIG ROLAND. Associate Professor-Art Education.
University of Florida. Department of Art. Gainesville Florida. 32611-5801.
(352) 392-9165 - Art Ed Office (352) 392-8453 - Fax
* visit my homepage at <http://grove.ufl.edu/~rolandc/homepage.html> *