Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Sistine Chapel And The Soup Can

Can you believe I am making a second post today?  I have something I have been chewing on a bit here though. 

I want to tell a little story first.  When I go overseas to do a show I always like to take a few extra days to sight see and shop.  It was on one of these trips a few years ago that another artist pal and I were shopping and wandered into an upscale department store. 

On a mannequin we saw displayed a dress by a very famous designer.  I was rather excited to see it because while I had seen their clothes on celebrities and in magazines I had never seen one of their garments in real life.  The dress in question was a simple orange rough linen shift.  It was sleeveless, with a flower near the rounded neckline made of the same material.  The price tag worked out to a little over eight thousand dollars with the conversion rate.

As I was looking at it, something seemed a bit off.  I realized the dress didn't hang straight.  My friend and I started really scrutinizing it.  The seams were poorly stitched and weren't finished on the edges, it wasn't lined and the new fad of having unhemmed material had just taken hold so the edges was raw and design.  I also noticed that one of the arm holes was slightly larger than the other.

I was shocked.  This was a designer that had achieved a level of success that most others could only aspire to.  I guess you could say they would be considered the "gold standard."  This dress wouldn't have survived more than two wearings.  I have a linen shift in a blue floral in my closet that I paid twenty five dollars for at Target that was better made.

For me to spend eight thousand dollars on a dress it had better have perfect hand stitched french seams, silk lining, a hemmed bottom regardless what the current fad is, hang straight, slice, dice and make julienne fries!

I belong to a bear artist group, and this week a topic was raised on making a list to set the gold standard for bear artists.  I, along with a few others are rather against that notion.  I think it's nearly impossible to quantify what the gold standard in any artistic venue is. 

Art, even in the bear world, is so diverse, how can you make a standardized list.  And...should you?  There has been quite a bit of discussion about what would go on the list.  No one seems certain if it should be about a simply making a quality product or specific design details.  I also raised the question of is it simply who can get the highest dollar for their work over someone else who charges less but who also makes a quality product.  Because in the case of the previously mentioned designer, their work was clearly sub par to many of their peers despite their reputation.  That holds true in some instances in the art world as well.

What really sets the gold standard in art?  What happens if you don't meet the decided upon set of requirements?  You can set Michael Angelo's Sistine Chapel painting up as the gold standard, but that doesn't invalidate Andy Warhol's tomato soup can as a genuine work of art if someone loves it and wants to own it.  At least that's my opinion because I believe that art is in the eye of the beholder.

But I am curious about your views on this.  I know that many artists making things other than bears read my blog, so I would like to hear your input on this regardless what you make or if you are a collector.  How would you feel if a group of people in your venue set up a list of what defines the "gold standard."  Would you try to adhere to it?  Would it affect you at all?  Would it affect your sales/purchases to know that someone does or does not meet the list?


OmaLindasOldeBaggsandStuftShirts said...

Yes, it would have an impact on my purchasing but probably not in a positive way. I think limitations on creative achievement are placed their by folks who want to feel superior in some way. If it is a judged show or exihibit then by all means set a criteria persons primitive is another persons gold standard. I did the exhibit show route for a number of years and found that I could never gauge by my own criteria whether someone else would sell something or that it would "call out" to a buyer. I was very shocked sometimes at what people would buy. I quit attending shows that were excluding "non professional quality". Not because I was turned down, because I never was, but because sheeezsh Louise, live and let live. Was that even an answer? I hope so. BTW Junk Gypsies is gonna cost me big time. Thanks for the referal, too wonderful.

Amanda said...

I'd be against a list. Too many times people have their own personnel views, why make me have to do them for my bears to be of a 'gold' standard? I got a lovely email off a collector today, saying they were really happy with the bear and thought it was wonderful, thats enough for me to know things are right.

Great topic Kelly.

Bev said...

art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder

there are lots of artists (bear and otherwise)out there that are considered amazing, but unless the piece of art "speaks" to me, I would never consider buying it

Dali and Monet for example

both famous, both artists to the standards of their genre -- I'd have Monet any day -- Dali? not so much

this whole "standards" thing sounds like art trying to imitate manufactured gizmos

nope, not a good idea (just my 2 cents worth!)

Katy Cameron said...

Hmm, not something I'd be a fan of to be honest. The way I see it if collectors buy my bears, appreciate them and are kind enough to tell me so, then I consider that I've created a decent product. I cringe now looking at some of my original efforts in my mum and dad's house, not because they are falling apart or are in other ways awful, but because I've learnt so much since and *I* can see things I'd do better - they love them though, and who am I to argue with the mum and dad of my bears?!

Heather said...

I think it might be interesting to see a list... as a fledgling bear-maker, I always worry about what some of the old 'standards' might be that I just have no clue about.

But honestly, I'd see the list as a list of suggestions.

When it comes to art, here's how I look at things:

First, you have to prove you are capable of creating something technically proficient.

Take your dress designer, for example. The dress you saw was sub-par based on your standards for what an $8000 dress should look like... but, this particular designer was obviously making some sort of statement with the dress... and the design was, you can bet, very 'on purpose'... how can you be sure of this? Because the designer had already proven themselves with years and years of very proficient work. If they want to now delve off into some shoddy, asymmetrical craftsmanship in the name of art... then they can... granted, we don't have to like it... but they've already proven their skill, so it's not a question of them not knowing what they're doing.

It's the same with Picasso... he was a very skilled artist... and not just in the cubist sense... the man could actually draw. He took the time and mastered anatomy and perspective, etc, etc etc... so if he wanted to spend is time skewing planes and rearranging faces... you knew it was done from an artistic standpoint, and not just because he couldn't line two eyes up correctly... and you'll find a lot of artists work this way. I'm not saying they all do... some of them really have very little technical capability and are more 'conceptual' (example: Nan Goldin, who when she started, in my opinion, was a *horrible* photographer... but she had an idea that held interest... do I consider her early stuff art? Not really, more like the exploitation of friends... but a lot of people do consider her work art for the concept alone... for me though, her lack of technical proficiency made her someone documenting an idea on film... not a photographer)... but for me... an artist is validated by studying and learning the basics... and then if they so choose... pushing that envelope beyond the norm.

So... would I welcome a 'golden list' of teddy bear making? Yeah, actually I would kind of appreciate it. I might not follow all of the "rules" but I would certainly pay attention and try to pick out the ones I thought were really crucial to making a sound teddy bear that would pass muster!

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