Let Not Art Be Irrelevant

And the American public—left with an impressionistic vision in which urine, bullwhips, and a naked but chocolate-streaked Karen Finley figured largely—drew the fatal conclusion that contemporary art had nothing to offer them. Fatal, because the moment the public disengages itself collectively from art, even to refrain from criticizing it, art becomes irrelevant.

via Article How Art Became Irrelevant.

Fascinating point. I would fight to the death for an artist’s right to express himself or herself. But when we reach the point where self-expression compels the audience to give up on art, what is achieved? At what point does art stop being art, and devolve into puerile outbursts of gratuitous provocation?

What separates art from mere aesthetic self-expression is that art communicates, it speaks to others, it makes a transcendental connection with the audience. When you lose that connection, whose fault is it, the audience, trying in good faith to reach for the connection? Or the artist?

And at what point do a myriad of failures to connect add up to a society that discards art, undermining our ability to sustain non-commercial expressive creativity?

Give me art, but first give me art that moves a multitude. For that is the art that forms the exoskeleton of a society that treasures all of its artists.

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Author: David Wolf

An adviser to corporations and organizations on strategy, communications, and public affairs, David Wolf has been working and living in Beijing since 1995, and now divides his time between China and California. He also serves as a policy and industry analyst focused on innovative and creative industries, a futurist, and an amateur historian.

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