Today’s visual art is not popular. There is nothing to like about it. There’s actually nothing there except ‘rubbish appeal’ – something different. How boring!
Art gives Culture. That is why the Art Lover is important. Nevertheless he is avant garde. I believe that true art is not popular but it has the potential to be so – but that it rarely is and anyway it takes time.
“You get out what you put in”, that is the AR motto. Most people don’t realize that art is of vital importance to them and through it they can engage with the world, so they don’t bother with it. That is why the AR Manifesto says, “Art is only alive when we know her.” What do we mean by “know”? We mean the kind of direct knowledge we get from Imagination.
Some of us went to the National Gallery earlier this week. The idea is that by wearing our AR badges we will attract other Art Lovers to join us – our friend Kurt was even telling one of the museum guards what we had discussed.
The point is you have to keep going back. Look at the same paintings. Get books out. Discover more.
If you live in the country, e.g. find out the names of the trees and teach yourself to recognize them. Look at art books until one day you can really see the paintings. Read. C’mon you kids who don’t have jobs. Learn about the world. Go to the art galleries – it’s free!
So, our group at the National Gallery: Cynthia, James Emmett with his friend Katie, Sam Varnham and Andrew Baker (all of whom have commented regularly on the website).
They were the winners of the ‘Connections’ discussion – you can see them here with their ‘Family Tree’ t-shirts. Kyle Baker, who did the music for our last show (and is Andrew’s son), was there, as was Daniel Lismore has worked so hard on the Cool Earth campaign with us. We were joined by Kurt Cody who we met recently at Occupy and our old friend Harry Mundy.
Here is what they had to say about the day:
I’ve been following the Get A Life blog for a long time now and, with it being half term, took the chance to come with my friend to London to see some galleries and of course to see a little bit of the city itself. Little did I know that it would turn into an incredible day involving like-minded individuals, other Art Lovers and, the lady herself, Vivienne Westwood, whose manifesto, I feel, really does dig down to the basis of what we need to do as a society to develop culture and, on the way there, save the planet by taking a good look around us, and looking at the past through the eyes of the artist, to ultimately try to understand the world we live in.
Starting off with some paintings that Vivienne showed us in a video from the blog, we could see that, as time went on, the artists view of the world changed, gradually, more and more of the world crept in – consumerism and materialism were becoming more evident.
Then we each chose a painting that we really loved and explained to the rest of the group and Vivienne why we liked the painting, and what we thought it showed of the world that the artist was representing.
I’ve only been to the National Gallery a few times, but have never had the chance to take a truly detailed look at a small selection of paintings, some which I can really look at and learn from. I’m a huge fan of Canaletto and being able to finally see his pieces in the flesh as it were was incredible. Each brush stroke, each individual brick, or wave or fold in the sail of a ship in all its glory. Not just Canaletto but other greats, other magnificent works by true geniuses, have really expanded my knowledge of the world, which I live in and in which people have once lived. I can honestly say that going to the gallery has really improved my understanding of the AR Manifesto, and, through being critical and truly evaluating a painting, and what it shows, I have been able to look at the world that I live in with a much more rounded view, I feel I now have the capacity to criticise and evaluate the planet around me, and the societies within.
And, of course, meeting Vivienne was brilliant and listening to her views and ideas was absolutely brilliant, not to mention receiving my prize for the Family Tree competition. A truly memorable day that has been more than useful, in so many ways. Dame Vivienne, thank-you.
I began the day at the Vivienne Westwood office at 11am, soon to be greeted by other AR blog contributors, Cynthia, and Vivienne herself. Once we were all together, we had a talk from Vivienne about why we were there, what’s happening in the world that we all feel passionately about, and what Art ultimately is providing the world with; Culture.
We then walked to the National Gallery where we viewed some of Vivienne’s favourite pieces, and were then asked to find our own; we would re-group later and discuss.
The piece I chose was by Rubens, a work in progress which depicted Jesus on the cross with great composition, Mary Magdalene and the Virgin Mary below him.
What I found to be the most interesting and important message that the day brought, was the mixture of characters and people within the group. Artists, fashion designers, music lovers, political activists and a good variety of ages and backgrounds which formulated stimulating and interesting conversation that flowed from start until finish. I hope that this is a smaller view of what the people could achieve by cultivating themselves, getting out of the house and actually doing something – by going to an art gallery, reading a book not a magazine, ultimately, by Getting a Life. I feel as though yesterday we all had all really lived up to the manifesto which Vivienne has written.
My wish is that it will continue, grow and create good human progress.
Thank you for inviting me to the National Gallery. It was an enjoyable, thought provoking visit. I was attracted to a large, brightly coloured painting of a group of people and marvelled at how the painter achieved such detail and realism in the folds of the clothes and the design of the floor. The paintings I saw were 300 – 500 years old, painted by men and covered subjects as diverse as landscapes, portraits, religious/royal/political functions/events. It was interesting to hear what each member of the group felt about their chosen painting. Certain paintings left me experiencing intense feelings of like or dislike. I wondered if the Old Masters, given the choice would have stuck with oil or chosen video/film as a medium for artistic expression. What art will be on display in 500 years’ time? Since my visit I’ve watched episode 1, series 1 ‘Titian’ of Matt’s Old Masters on 4OD and read Vivienne Westwood’s ‘Active Resistance to Propaganda’.
I am most grateful to both you Vivienne and Cynthia for the time you spent with me at the National Gallery, for your insights into the paintings and your encouragement to find my own meaning in a painting. I felt privileged to be part of the group.
Uniting a large group of strangers all with different perspectives in an art gallery is a brilliant idea.
It was a very interesting experience, hearing why other people liked or disliked art works.
People should do this more often. Art is a powerful medium for changing ideas.
What I appreciated was the fashion and the silhouettes I could see in the paintings.
I agree with Vivienne that in a sense this is a truer type of art.
Contemporary art is not art at all by these classical standards.
Successful art should provoke an intelligent dialogue with its audience and it had become really obvious to me that the value of talent has changed.
Now we place more value on the personality of the artist rather than on his ability to communicate and the work itself.
This visit was a timely reminder of what art was and how beautiful it could be.
Kyle Nash-Baker/ Andrew Baker:
We have both read through Vivienne’s Manifesto and share her belief that a love and appreciation of art in all its forms lies at the centre of a rich and fulfilled life. It is so rare to get the opportunity to meet with a group of like minded people and discuss their views on that we were both excited to hear everyone’s experiences and thoughts.
Vivienne opened the day by expanding on some of the themes in her manifesto and also with a couple of tips on what to look for when we got to the National Gallery. We were particularly interested to hear her discuss the development of the techniques of oil painting and were amazed to see how we could both see the points she was making made real on the canvas in front of us as we travelled around the gallery. Apart from the obvious names, Vivienne helped us to appreciate artists that we had, perhaps, not been aware of previously – Zurbaran, Velazquez, Sassoferrato. We were also able to view paintings by Caravaggio, Canaletto, Van Gogh, Manet, Monet, Cezanne, Seurat and many others. It got to the point that we had to pause – believe us, the National Gallery is like Disneyland: you can’t appreciate all of the riches on offer in a single visit on a single day. If there is one place in Britain that demonstrates the central themes of the Active Resistance, the National Gallery is that place.
One of the themes of the day was the disappearance of the physical skill needed to create these masterpieces – techniques have been lost; skills are no longer taught. Moreover, much of the content and symbolism of subject matter would be lost on a modern audience: religious themes; stories from various mythologies – what would Caravaggio paint were he alive today? We wondered whether this might not be yet another example of the influence of the right side of Vivienne’s family tree. People with artistic skill in the modern world follow the financial rewards: they are creating computer games, or movie backdrops. Perhaps they are designing advertising or product packaging. They are no longer being commissioned to create works of art on the behalf of rich benefactors. Does this mean art is dying or changing? We haven’t been able to agree on an answer yet – any thoughts?