Sunday, October 2, 2016

300: Rise of the Artistic Polymath

–TWO decades ago I was speculating with a fellow artist about the future of fine art. I predicted that after the turn of the century there would be a focus on the handmade. This shift in taste, away from highly rendered and polished art forms, would result from the public's fatigue from an overload of perfect and overly rendered digital imagery.

Although the trend is not evolving quickly, the principle is sound and is unfolding as imagined. I think the coming years will only increase the demand for art forms that manifest the artist's presence.

A few years ago there was a study showing how original art had more power than prints or reproductions (I have since been unable to find this study. If you know of a link, please post in the comments section). There have also been studies that art increases the blood flow in the brain. Such studies will help original art to have more appeal to a wider audience–which is greatly needed in a world distracted and numbed by computer generated special effects and other digitally enhanced entertainments.

For fine art to continue its evolution, it must be esteemed by larger portions of the general public. The Avant Garde's strategy of making their art more valuable by making it increasingly less understandable and less accessible is no longer a viable strategy.

Observing these inevitabilities I make a further prediction: that artists will be increasingly freed from the demand to specialize. Artists who survey broad fields will be increasingly esteemed. And they will be increasingly free from the demands of virtuosity. In my recent foray into abstraction, I realized that rejection of virtuosity was one of the impulses of the abstract expressionist movement. What were artists to do whose personalities did not permit them to swim effortlessly in the demanding environment of academic discipline? This question and its answer led to broader art forms that allowed for a wider expression of creativity.

Hand-in-hand with an acceptance of art forms that revel in the mark of the artist's hand I believe we will see a demand for art that synthesizes a broad array of disciplines into a single work, as well as exhibits that allow for wide expression of forms within a single exhibition.

As I approach galleries with the intent of establishing professional relationships, some have scoffed at the idea that artists might develop broad skills in a variety of media. Such views are archaic at best and will doom such galleries to failure. The term Renaissance Man is no longer relevant, for obvious reasons, but also because the pursuit of technical virtuosity, even in many fields, is no longer a means of differentiating yourself from the artistic herd. Standards of technical perfection are now so impossibly high as to be untenable except for a select few particularly suited to such intense, olympian focus.

The future belongs to those who believe in the future–and that belief is best expressed by the broad and continuous evolution of one's creative abilities and vision.

Brad Teare –October 2016


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