In Chapter 4, Seeing the Value in Art, we'll consider the ways in which art is "valued." Today, many works of art that we consider "masterpieces" have met with public disapproval when they were first exhibited. Gradually these works came to be accepted and admired over time. We have come to recognize that there is both a historic and a social value of art, in conjunction with consideration of art's aesthetic value. In reading about Robert Mapplethorpe's photography, note the key questions raised about the value of art, and how ultimately, "value" is a relative term.
After reading this chapter you should:
- know how works by the following artists came under attack by a skeptical or disapproving public:
- Edouard Manet
- Marcel Duchamp
- Maya Lin
- Richard Serra
- Carl Andre
- Robert Mapplethorpe
- be able to equate Suzanne Lacey's diagramthe stages of an artist's development, with the four roles of the artist described in Chapter 1.
- see that the artist's relationship to the public is often dependent upon what the public can understand. Marcel Duchamp's painting, Nude Descending a Staircase, met with great ridicule when first exhibited. "Duchamp's vision had already been confirmed, but the public had not yet learned to see it."
- know the significance of the " Armory Show."
- know about the National Endowment for the Artswho established it and when, the Arts in Public Places program and how it worked, and what role artists were to play.
Why was Alexander Calder's La Grande Vetesse the perfect first choice to be erected under the new program?
- know that to value art for art's sake is to value it as an aesthetic object, rather than its functional practicality or impact on social life. Carl Andre's Stone Field Sculpture, Michelangelo's David, and Richard Serra's Tilted Arc have all tested the public's ability to value art for art's sake.
- see how some artists intend for their works to become active agents of change on our lives. These artists produce "activist artwork." Included among them are Krzysztof Wodiczko, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Suzanne Lacy and Leslie Labowitz, and the collaborative team, Group Material.
In Chapter 4 we have looked at many important works of art and considered not only their meaning, but their relevance in the history of art. Whatever role artists assumeexperiencer, reporter, analyst or activist it is us, the audience, who must judge the value of their work. What each of us values in a work of art is different, but when we say we value a work, we should be able to explain why we find it aesthetically pleasing, socially effective, or both.
When reading Chapter 4's The Critical Process, consider the ideas of controversy
and resolution. The "AIDS Quilt" and the "AIDS Timeline" may never be completed. One speaks to history, the other to scale. Have these works, in your opinion, succeeded in bringing awareness of the disease to the public and politicians. Have these works succeeded where other media would have fallen short?