​Fine line between Fine Art & Autobiographical Artwork…

… considering whether art should require prior knowledge of an artist, or whether an artist should be able to maintain anonymity while their work is appreciated, it’s impossible to reach an impersonal conclusion.  Some artists, such as Robert Rauschenberg thrive off the fame of their acknowledged pieces and almost become a walking artistic medium of their own work.  Others, such as Ray Johnson have actively avoided being recognised as the artist in a visual way, their name being the only link, leaving an impersonal stain on the work of art.

It’s impossible not to infect a piece of art with the personality, or even mood of the artist themselves.  Fine Art has the liberty of not needing to be advertising, it doesn’t have to reach a cross-section of the population, it will appeal to those who are similar in personality to the artist perhaps?  Or despised by those with a personality clash!

Goya’s ‘Black Painting Series’ were not released to the general public, but instead became his own private exhibition within his own home, painted on the plaster of his walls and reflecting his perception of what was essential for developing and understanding the human condition in his ‘modern’ time (please click the link below for an atmospheric viewing of these works).  In contrast, he created around 80 prints illustrating the ‘follies of civilised society’ in a satirical and macabre fashion for the public eye, as you can see below illustrating a tamer version of his real perceptions?  No-one can question the talent behind Goya’s work, however does knowledge of his personal life improve the aesthetics?

As another example it may be best to think of a song you heard played at some point, you liked the harmonics of the song very much.  Then you see the song played live by the same musical artist you heard, but your perception has changed.  Boy George is a great example, most could accept his songs aurally, visually he raised questions about his sexuality and created a different fan-base, which later became the bands undoing because his character became the work of art instead of the music.  There was a movement towards acceptance for homosexuality at the time and Boy George’s persona was a pioneer in popular culture to represent that.

Barbara Kruger’s prints and were also inspired by ‘how we treat one another’ as a collective human species.  Through a combination of collage and typography to express the interrelationships between people, domination and control.   Had that not been explained in a card beside the work I doubt I would have figured that out myself.  I did immediately sense that there was cruelty involved, but by what or whom was not immediately clear.  However, the description remained impersonal, simply explaining an intent (unlike Tracy Emin who likes to let the world know her very personal experiences).  But as the observer are we truly interested in the autobiographical work of someone we don’t know?

I can only conclude that the knowledge of when and where a piece of art is produced is fundamental, it allows those with greater curiosity about a work to explore the history of the time and gain an individual understanding.  Ultimately, unless the artist is using the art to sell themselves then the auto-biographical is surplus to requirement.


P.S., all images have links to more information on the artist.


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