Tuesday, July 31, 2007

We are the art!

I found this on Etsy today. So pretty! And cool! And nautical, in a way. I would use it for shrimp cocktail. Where's my Wealthy Benefactor when I need him? Because even if I had that kind of money to throw away on a chip and dip plate I would never do it. But I'd let the Wealthy Benefactor do it.

I'm not actually writing about wealthy benefactors and the presents they would buy. That very pricey chip and dip plate got me thinking about art, which got me thinking of a show I watched the other night. (Slight pause while I hop over to the PBS web-site to find the name) "Simon Schama's Power of Art". I don't know who Simon Schama is (slight pause while I find out who he is)(Every time I do one of these slight pauses I get side tracked and 3 hours later I remember I have a post waiting to be finished)(Success! Only two minutes). He's some art historian type guy. I probably could have guessed that. Anyway, he's been doing this series of shows where he features one artist for a whole hour, expounding on their genius. I saw his Van Gogh one a while back. The guy playing Van Gogh in the reenactment did a very realistic job of eating paint. I watched the whole thing because I was mesmerized by this Schama fellow's speech habits. He had a way of conducting his words with his head. The next time we meet, ask to see my impression of it. Plus he kept pronouncing Van Gogh's name with a soft guttural "gh" which made me laugh like a loon.

The other night he was focusing on Mark Rothko, who paints stuff like this:

and this:

and this:

Now, I'm of the opinion that it's the intent of the artist that makes something art. People looking at a piece and giving an opinion doesn't make it any more or less artistic. An elephant with paint and a canvas provided by its trainer can produce all sorts of paintings but that doesn't make it art. The elephant isn't thinking "Finally! I can get my message across to these humans! You, with the broom, fetch me my brushes!" He's thinking, "Food. Water. Where are the other elephants?" (Pray that I never tell you about the other PBS show I watched about the elephants. You will weep. Weep, I tell you!). Rothko was obviously trying to get something across with his paintings so I'm not going to comment on how it looks like something an unmotivated 5th grader would do during painting time. And I'm not going to argue that people can find meaning in these. Obviously many do, otherwise he wouldn't be famous enough for a full hour of PBS time.

What I am going to argue is the Schama is crazy in love with Rothko and is so deluded by this love that he spent 15 minutes talking about how these particular paintings at the Rothko Chapel in Houston:

"pulsed with life" and "throbbed with meaning" and "exuded electricity". You do not need to adjust the color on your screen. They are, indeed, all black. There are 14 of them in the chapel. Sure, I guess I can see how people would be moved by these, especailly when faced with all of them at once. But listening to Schama practically cry over them as the camera zoomed in on the black canvass I couldn't help but think of that episode of Murphy Brown, when Elden (that was his name right?) had an exhibit where he did a mural on the ceiling and it was covered by a cloth, ready to be unveiled, but when the artsy people came in they only focused on the cloth, thinking it was the art. When the mural was unveiled the cloth fell on a bunch of people and one of them yelled, "WE are the art!" We are indeed.

I guess my whole point is this: If your last name is Schama wouldn't you at least try to legally change it to Schama-lama-ding-dong?


Amanda said...

I actually have real reason to type LOL with this post. Well done. I think that you need to get a video camera and take a little video clip of yourself doing the impersonation as I am unlikely to see you soon.
And maybe you should be saying Van Gogh with the soft 'gh' considering PBS knows all and we have been saying Appalachian wrong for years.

Anonymous said...

Rachel! Oh my. I could barely contain my laughter at my desk!!

And um, next time you're going to watch Mr. Schama, would you please let me know so I can run over and watch it with you!

I'm not kidding.

Your post reminds me of a time I went to MOCA and almost sat on a bench that was really "art" symbolizing the loneliness in the world or human's ability to sit or something like that.

Anonymous said...

rachel, I'm with Liz--> One little call is all it takes and I'll be right there to enjoy it with you!

Amanda said...

Um, I'm dropping a little tear right now that I can say 'ditto, call me and I'll be over.' I would like there to be a moratorium on all fun-having since I have moved so far away. I know it is unfair, but Gina, Wendy, what do you think? Do Gina and Wendy read this? I haven't seen any comments? What about Andrea? Are you reading this Andrea and not commenting? Hmmm???

Anonymous said...

Once I went to MOCA and there was a piece that was like a bedroom-sized room, and on the inside were wall-to-wall clocks. They all read 7:21 and I thought, "What happened at 7:21 that was so significant that all of these clocks are set to that time?" Until they all turned to 7:22.