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Author Topic: Universal recognition  (Read 747 times)

opgr

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Universal recognition
« on: March 23, 2017, 10:58:01 AM »

Does true art always have universal appeal? Or is there such a thing as for example gender-specific or etnicity-specific art? Is it always cross-culture?
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Oscar

Otto Phocus

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Re: Universal recognition
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2017, 11:13:08 AM »

Does true art always have universal appeal? Or is there such a thing as for example gender-specific or etnicity-specific art? Is it always cross-culture?

1.  There is no such thing as "true art"
2.  There is no such thing as universal appeal

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opgr

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Re: Universal recognition
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2017, 11:21:39 AM »

1.  There is no such thing as "true art"
2.  There is no such thing as universal appeal

My language skills must be failing me then. What was i thinking combining the words "true" and "art", or "universal" and "appeal". 
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Oscar

RSL

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Re: Universal recognition
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2017, 12:00:13 PM »

Oscar, Otto's response to the contrary notwithstanding, yours is a fair question, and I think the answer is "no," there's no such thing as art with universal appeal. I think art's effect depends on your background and life experiences.

Let's take music as an example. I don't think visual art is nearly as powerful as music for the emotional jolt it can give you, and I think art is something that gives you an emotional jolt. Pavarotti singing Panis Angelicus can bring me to tears in a heartbeat, but I've been around people who are into rock and other forms of popular music who turn away from that kind of performance. Doesn't reach them at all.

Dylan Thomas's "Fern Hill" gives me an emotional jolt every time I read it, hear it read on a recording by Thomas, or recite it myself. Yet I've run across people for whom poetry is gibberish.

So, I guess I'd drop the word "true" from references to art, because what's true for one person isn't necessarily true for the guy next to him. And, as a result, I think Otto's right that there's no such thing as universal appeal when it comes to art.

opgr

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Re: Universal recognition
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2017, 12:17:31 PM »

Oscar, Otto's response to the contrary notwithstanding, yours is a fair question, and I think the answer is "no," there's no such thing as art with universal appeal. I think art's effect depends on your background and life experiences.

Let's take music as an example. I don't think visual art is nearly as powerful as music for the emotional jolt it can give you, and I think art is something that gives you an emotional jolt. Pavarotti singing Panis Angelicus can bring me to tears in a heartbeat, but I've been around people who are into rock and other forms of popular music who turn away from that kind of performance. Doesn't reach them at all.

Dylan Thomas's "Fern Hill" gives me an emotional jolt every time I read it, hear it read on a recording by Thomas, or recite it myself. Yet I've run across people for whom poetry is gibberish.

So, I guess I'd drop the word "true" from references to art, because what's true for one person isn't necessarily true for the guy next to him. And, as a result, I think Otto's right that there's no such thing as universal appeal when it comes to art.

Sure, i understand and recognise that the appreciation of art can be an individual assessment, but i didn't mean to ask that and it wasn't meant as yet another "what is art?" thread either. I was thinking that i really don"t know whether there is such a thing as for example genderspecific art. Some kind of art that i would never understand or appreciate as art because of cultural differences perhaps, fully apart from whether i find it beautiful or not.
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Oscar

Otto Phocus

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Re: Universal recognition
« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2017, 01:12:16 PM »

It would depend on how open minded one is concerning art.

There are many forms of art that I can appreciate even though I may not like them.  I admire a lot of art that I would not hang on my wall even if I got it for free.

I am a little confused by the term you use of "gender specific art".  If you mean an art form that only a person of a specific gender would appreciate? If so, I would opine that no, I can't conceive of any form of art where someone of a different gender may not appreciate it.  I would like to think that art appreciation is gender agnostic.

Now, it is possible for an art form to be so "inside" as to be understandable by a select group of people.  Jokes fall into this category.  There are jokes out there that are so "inside" that only people intimate with a group can really "get it".  But I am not sure I can envision any visual art that could be like that.

Even art works where I totally miss any intended symbolism or meaning, I can still appreciate some aspect.  There have been instances where I have admired some aspect of a photograph only to learn later that the photographer not only intended another meaning, but actually tried to avoid what I thought was attractive.  Oops.

But that only goes to illustrate my comment about "universal appeal".  Different people can appreciate completely different aspects or interpretations of the same art work.

I guess with these types of questions, it all comes down to how you wish to define and bound the expressions.
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JNB_Rare

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Re: Universal recognition
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2017, 03:00:47 PM »

Sure, i understand and recognise that the appreciation of art can be an individual assessment, but i didn't mean to ask that and it wasn't meant as yet another "what is art?" thread either. I was thinking that i really don"t know whether there is such a thing as for example genderspecific art. Some kind of art that i would never understand or appreciate as art because of cultural differences perhaps, fully apart from whether i find it beautiful or not.

I think there is both a visceral and an intellectual component to what is assessed as "art". The term visceral is an interesting one, however. When speaking about strictly physiological responses, then genetics may come into play. When speaking about psycho-physiological responses, then other things, such as culture, may also come into play. For example, I've read that there is (was?*) a visceral dislike of raw food in China, because eating raw food was historically viewed as a barbaric habit. In music, western ears are attuned to the occidental scale. Some middle-eastern and far eastern scales (such as Indonesian) can sound odd or even off-key to a westerner. Example

Whether it's possible for there to be genetic or cultural differences in the recognition of visual art, I'm seriously not qualified to answer.

* Interestingly, I've eaten at Sushi restaurants that were run by Chinese.

opgr

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Re: Universal recognition
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2017, 03:23:10 PM »

Interestingly he mentions that regardless of where he does it, the result is the same. It may of course be the result of the global influence of western music.

Bobby McFerrin on the pentatonic scale
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Oscar

Rob C

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Re: Universal recognition
« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2017, 06:27:34 PM »

Of course there are artforms where the appeal is obviously far more specifically uni-gendered.

Fashion comes to mind straightaway, as do several photographers who do what they do because they have the singular advantage of being women and seeing as do women, which is on a different level altogether to the male gaze. As for fashion designers, do they constitute a gender, with so many being gay? Throw in makeup artists and hairdressers and the thing gets even more confusing, but maybe it's back to the gayness? Which doesn't explain a few straight, randy male hairdressers I've also known. But yeah, they too are artists.

Look at the work of Sarah Moon and Ellen von Unwerth: both exceptionally successful female fashion snappers, poles apart, but for my money, producers of a style only a woman would come up with, with Ellen, if anything, showing a decidedly female take on aggression within attraction, whereas Sarah has a distinctive take on mood, era and limpid (if expressive!) moods and gestures.

I've posted links before to the late Francesca Woodman: I see her preoccupations as essentially female; they wouldn't make sense for a male.

I can't imagine a female Albert Watson, for example.

I think that paintings shows this up even more strongly. There, I think that genre is even more a distinction, with a strong attraction for women in the world of flower paintings. (I'm sure those with far deeper insights into paint will jump in there and prove me wrong!) The only designer of textiles whom I have ever known was a young woman, but that's using the personal to measure a far broader world!

As for ethnicity and design, yes, there is a distinct look to much African art in fabric design and sculpture; India has its own take on music as well as things such as the style and ways in which they use the movie to express things. Japan is famous for its expressive art ways; Italians for sports car and motoryacht design. 50s America had a geat car designer too: Harley Earl. Those folks couldn't have worked anywhere but where they did.

Rob

« Last Edit: March 23, 2017, 06:34:23 PM by Rob C »
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opgr

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Re: Universal recognition
« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2017, 03:36:25 AM »

I certainly agree that there are notable differences in the production of art from specific groups, and that generalisations are absolutely applicable. But the appreciation of these different art-expressions always crosses the groupboundaries, at least for people of reasonable intellect.
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Oscar

GrahamBy

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Re: Universal recognition
« Reply #10 on: March 24, 2017, 01:55:46 PM »

The example I always give when discussing gender differences is height: on average, men are taller than women, but there are plenty of tall women and short men. So while a particular form of art may appeal to a greater proportion of women, or more strongly to some women, there will always be exceptions. You could get into cultural conditioning vs "true" differences, but I don't think it matters for the argument: one is what one is, however that was constructed.

What does seem likely to me is that a given image or piece of music works because it resonates with a culturally specific experience: you show an image containing "arbeit macht frei" and it will send a shiver down the spine of most people in the west... but be completely free of meaning in some societies. Similar for religious specific imagery, even in the broad sense: would Chagall have much meaning to someone who had never had contact with western Christianity?

On the other hand, you can pretty much guarantee that a photo of a couple of people having sex will garner *some* sort of reaction from almost anyone. If you want universality, you need to get back to universals :)
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Rob C

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Re: Universal recognition
« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2017, 05:17:15 AM »

The example I always give when discussing gender differences is height: on average, men are taller than women, but there are plenty of tall women and short men. So while a particular form of art may appeal to a greater proportion of women, or more strongly to some women, there will always be exceptions. You could get into cultural conditioning vs "true" differences, but I don't think it matters for the argument: one is what one is, however that was constructed.

What does seem likely to me is that a given image or piece of music works because it resonates with a culturally specific experience: you show an image containing "arbeit macht frei" and it will send a shiver down the spine of most people in the west... but be completely free of meaning in some societies. Similar for religious specific imagery, even in the broad sense: would Chagall have much meaning to someone who had never had contact with western Christianity?

On the other hand, you can pretty much guarantee that a photo of a couple of people having sex will garner *some* sort of reaction from almost anyone. If you want universality, you need to get back to universals :)


It's probaby conditioning, insofar as recognition goes, but recognition of what: oneself or external stimuli?

I believe there's a difference there, between what one would wish for the self and what one does because one can also do that thing. I'm sure Sarah could use a white roll of Colorama just as well as any other photographer, but she chooses aternative solutions. Now both have a common end, but the routes are quite dfferent and reflections of approach to a challenge. Isn't it the natural approach that is the definition?

Rob

GrahamBy

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Re: Universal recognition
« Reply #12 on: March 25, 2017, 07:47:19 AM »

I think you could comfortably put Sarah at one pole, and Richard Avedon at the other. But then where would you place Annie and Saul? I'd say Saul is much closer to Sarah and Annie to Richard, both for their images and their personas (which are probably the reason for the images). Sieff would be in the Avedon hemisphere but far from the pole. Robert Frank ? Diane Arbus? Things start to get messy when the "masculinity" of the image is less well aligned with gung-ho self promotion.

Then think about Georgia O'Keefe: an extremely confident woman, not at all accepting of assigned feminine roles, who painted flowers. But erotic flowers. Not the sort of thing Picasso would do, but I can't imagine her wilting under his gaze  ;D

It would be interesting to look at Soames's paintings... and how they relate to Saul's photographic whimsy.

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GrahamBy

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Re: Universal recognition
« Reply #13 on: March 25, 2017, 08:07:42 AM »

Ok, here's some fun: two photos I modeled for, one by a woman, one by a man. Both early-stage pros with talent. Can you pick which is which?
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Rob C

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Re: Universal recognition
« Reply #14 on: March 25, 2017, 12:01:03 PM »

50-50 chance of sudden death: seems fair; I'll roll.

The group's by a woman and the head by a man.

Why? Because the head shows a tech obsession with DOF which I don't think means much to women. In photos, at least. The group is somehow tender, as in charnel house, so female shooter. Maybe a male would have displayed the females to better advantage.

On such slender calls is one sent to the death camp and the other to a refugee camp.

If I'm mistake, I'll think of an excuse and try those two shots again. Don't ever say I've learned zilch from LuLa!

;-)

Rob

Rob C

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Re: Universal recognition
« Reply #15 on: March 25, 2017, 01:00:02 PM »

I think you could comfortably put Sarah at one pole, and Richard Avedon at the other. But then where would you place Annie and Saul? I'd say Saul is much closer to Sarah and Annie to Richard, both for their images and their personas (which are probably the reason for the images). Sieff would be in the Avedon hemisphere but far from the pole. Robert Frank ? Diane Arbus? Things start to get messy when the "masculinity" of the image is less well aligned with gung-ho self promotion.

Then think about Georgia O'Keefe: an extremely confident woman, not at all accepting of assigned feminine roles, who painted flowers. But erotic flowers. Not the sort of thing Picasso would do, but I can't imagine her wilting under his gaze  ;D

It would be interesting to look at Soames's paintings... and how they relate to Saul's photographic whimsy.

Now this is interesting, and what LuLa should embrace more energetically.

Not sure about Sarah and Dick: there's the commonality of Pirelli Cals; the fashion bibles too - to an extent - but yes, they differ markedly in the other respects. I don't know if Moon was ever into LF but he certainly was. Neither do I think he used smaller than 120 format - but I don't really know and so the farm's safe from that one.

I can't see myself comparing Annie and Saul at all. I feel Saul was honest in his vision but Annie the ultimate contriver. Which is perhaps what's required of her in her gigs and in her epoch. Saul's fashion work is actually quite a lot more technically 'clever' than the work in the three books I have would suggest; he was certainly not unaware of fashionable stylisms and tricks, and could light, too. I have discovered quite a lot more of his fashion stuff in the Internet, and find echoes even of William Klein at times. (Boy, the cookie collection I garner from trawling for these guys! I had over nine hundred cookies to remove this morning. And I do that chore every day, but seldom have such a score. I wish I could sell them instead of killing them.)

Jeanloup I would not place in Avedon's zone at all. He seems to me to be firmly within the Frank Horvat, William Klein, Bailey, Duffy but not Donovan group: tendency towards gritty b/white street fashion with a definite male eye. Even some of the Helmut stuff falls into that cluster of types. Donovan, Lategan and Avedon are closer together, I think, because they do seem to go for the studied rather than snapped, though yeah, Donovan also did a lot of thirty-five mil. and did have his share of grit in the early days, but as with Bailey, he moved to commercials. Indeed, Bailey no longer likes to be called a fashion photographer.

Sara could fit quite well within the same largish box as Sheila Metzner and Deborah Turbeville, all three very feminine in approach -  I think. But she'd still be the one a little bit more distinctive than the others.

Robert Frank is a difficult one. One has to ask if he was really a photographer at all. Yes, he did a lot of shooting to come up with the very brief Americans book, but remember that he got the hell out of it almost right after that, and as a young man still; he seems to have had a bug for making odd movies that didn't go very far. But later fame came with the book, so it didn't matter...

Arbus I don't like very much at all. I don't think of her as a marker for photography, but as a talent for going where others would not. I think there has been a period where I have given her the benefit of my doubt, but if I actually did, it hasn't lasted.

Truth to tell, there are very few heroes whose books I would buy. On that list remain Peccinotti, Ernst Haas and Moon.

Rob

GrahamBy

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Re: Universal recognition
« Reply #16 on: March 25, 2017, 07:14:32 PM »


The group's by a woman and the head by a man.

Why? Because the head shows a tech obsession with DOF which I don't think means much to women. In photos, at least. The group is somehow tender, as in charnel house, so female shooter. Maybe a male would have displayed the females to better advantage.

Well no one else is jumping in... so yes, you get to keep the farm, well called sir :)
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Rob C

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Re: Universal recognition
« Reply #17 on: March 26, 2017, 02:42:58 PM »

Well no one else is jumping in... so yes, you get to keep the farm, well called sir :)


Hey, 50 - 50 is good odds!

;-)

Rob
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