This morning I read a post reviewing a local museum. It was favorable and led from the hypothesis of it being a nice surprise. The idea was that being a smaller museum it would contain mostly ‘local’ art, interspersed with some ‘good’ art. I am guessing that by ‘good’, the author means ‘well known’.
I feel such frustration with that viewpoint. How is it that our culture is generally much more impressed by what is famous and popular than by what is good, or what oneself is genuinely attracted to, regardless of the opinions of others? We’re seen as such an individualistic country and yet with art it seems one must consult the popular vote before deciding what they love, or what is worth looking at.
In this museum, for example, famous artists are in fact quite well represented. It is a point of pride, I think, that this is so and from a historic viewpoint, I don’t have an issue with that. I would never erase the history of art over an argument of popularity. There is also of course, more local art, and what surprised the author was the fact that these artists were well known. Is it that much better that they should be well known?
I’m not going to judge, should someone happen to be in love with what is also a famous piece of art. I love many famous pieces myself; I am questioning something different from that.
Is any Picasso, no matter how banal, better than a meaningful work by an unknown?
This is all, of course, centered around that nearly intangible, unanswerable question: what is good art?
Perhaps that is why, it seems, in absence of any known measure of the true merit of a piece of art, so many turn to popularity for an answer.