Art as Commodity Vs. Art as Mysticism

In my own art-world view, art as commodity is ok, especially if one can merge day job with their own art (let’s say, hypothetically, one designs clothing to function as one’s canvas). It’s not ideal though.

To place art within this capitalist frame forces the artist to pander to art buyers, including the final price tag within the creation equation. This problem dictated the formal presentation of some of my own pieces on more than one occasion. This can be limiting or inspiring, depending.

To remove fully the commodification of art from one’s practice would produce, in most cases, radically different results. I would argue that this would allow art to become a mystical practice that merges spiritual practice with the material world, sculpting, as least metaphorically, spirit into form.

According to Holland Cotter of the New York Times, (below) maybe this recession will actually force a revamping in some artists’ processes, allowing us to explore a more pure art rather than product creation. I’m down!

Will the art industry continue to cling to art’s traditional analog status, to insist that the material, buyable object is the only truly legitimate form of art, which is what the painting revival of the last few years has really been about? Will contemporary art continue to be, as it is now, a fancyish Fortunoff’s, a party supply shop for the Love Boat crew? Or will artists — and teachers, and critics — jump ship, swim for land that is still hard to locate on existing maps and make it their home and workplace?

I’m not talking about creating ’60s-style utopias; all those notions are dead and gone and weren’t so great to begin with. I’m talking about carving out a place in the larger culture where a condition of abnormality can be sustained, where imagining the unknown and the unknowable — impossible to buy or sell — is the primary enterprise.

–from The Boom Is Over. Long Live the Art, by Holland Cotter for the NYT

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