LITR 236 World Lit and Fine Arts II Grayson Perry Reith Lectures Extra Credit

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LITR 236 World Lit and Fine Arts II Grayson Perry Reith Lectures Extra Credit

LITR 236 World Lit and Fine Arts II Grayson Perry Reith Lectures Extra Credit Assignments

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PART I: DEMOCRACY HAS BAD TASTE

1. Before you start, what are your expectations for this lecture?

a. On a scale of 1-10, what is your interest level for hearing the lecture?

My interest in listening to this lecture is 10/10.

b. What do you think the title of the lecture means?

Based on the title of the lecture, “Democracy has a bad taste” I believe that it talks about the quality of art. There is no empirical way to judge art in regard to good or bad, and what majority perceives as good art doesn’t simply translate as quality art.

2. According to Grayson Perry, how do we determine what “good” art is?  Who are the people who make the determination?

Perry defines the criteria used to define quality of art including financial value, popularity, art historical significance or aesthetic sophistication. There are four stages to the rise and success of an artist: peer approval, serious critics and collectors, dealers and finally the public. Based on the survey conducted by artists, it is evident that the audience are the determinant of what good or bad art is. Perry explains how important the approval of fellow artists is at the start and how critics will judge an artwork. Then come the collectors, who might be serious players or merely individuals keen on “glitzing up” their homes or resell for a higher profit. Art dealers take the highest credit, in that they will validate the artwork through their own reputation and will also choose where to place (or whom to sell to) the artwork. Another criterion for validation of a work of art is “museum quality”, which is judged by someone else at the top of the validation process: the curators, are “the popes of art”, and will select artworks to place in an important exhibition or institution.

 

3. Why is it that “popular” art (art that a large portion of society finds appealing) is often not considered “good art”?  

According to Perry, quality and popularity seems to be odd with each other in regard to art. He gives the example of David Honkey’s 2012 exhibition at the Royal academy. This was a popular show, but yet one of the worst shows to have ever been recorded in regard to art gallery. However, he cites a number of Russian artists in the 1990s, who ran a survey in whose results indicated that people aesthetically wanted the same thing everywhere in the world which included figures and animals on a blue background. There is not empirical formula of determining the quality of art and thus, determining quality of art by popularity might not have what it takes to have it take into museums, or meet the requirements of critics and collectors who are involved in art business. Based on this, popularity doesn’t mean quality art, as it is based on aesthetic of the art. Beauty is on the eyes of the beholder, which means that a person’s perception can be biased into deciding what is good or bad art. With no valid way to measure the quality of art, many people can be wrong, just the same way a wrong political candidate is elected into office, not because they are better, but because of popularity. Therefore, what is popular might not be of good quality, since it might have been popular due to advertisement with no critics.

4. What are some of the examples that Perry uses to explain his positions?  Does he reference anything we have studied in class that you recognize?

In explaining why beauty cannot be used to determine the quality of art, Perry gives the example of David Honkey’s 2012 exhibition at the Royal academy. This was a popular show, but yet one of the worst shows to have ever been recorded in regard to art gallery. However, he cites a number of Russian artists in the 1990s, who ran a survey in whose results indicated that people aesthetically wanted the same thing everywhere in the world which included figures and animals on a blue background. Besides, Perry claims that historically, there have been various attempts to define perfect beauty, such as the Greek’s Golden Ratio, William Hogarth’s serpentine line in painting, or the Venetian Secret thought to be used by Titian and his contemporaries. “Beauty” is usually what defines quality for a visitor at an exhibition, but Perry warns against the use of this word, which would anger contemporary followers of Duchamp, who said that “aesthetic delectation is the danger to be avoided”. 

5. What is your response to Perry’s lecture?  Does he make points that you find valuable, or that change your own attitudes towards art?  If so, explain.

Perry’s lecture has been illuminating, providing lots of lesson in determining the quality of art. Previously, I used to define art based on the aesthetic value, just like many people perceives that good or bad art is based on its appeal to the eyes of the visitor. However, this perception has changed in that I have learned that a good or bad art is determined by financial value, popularity, art historical significance or aesthetic sophistication, and not merely by its beauty.

6. Now that you have finished the lecture, how would you rate it on a scale from 1-10 (10 being the highest)?  Did you find that the lecture was easy to understand?  Why or why not?

After completing Perry’s lecture, I can rate it 10/10, and this is because it has exceeded my expectations. Perry has not only added reasons why the quality of art should not be solely be determined by its beauty, but a combination of other factors, but he has established individuals who can determine the value of an art including approval from peers, serious critics and collectors, dealers and finally the public.

PART II: BEATING THE BOUNDS

1. During this lecture Perry outlines his criteria for determining what is, and what is not, art (which he identifies with “cracks of the whip”).  What are the different criteria?  Outline each one.

One of the criteria used by Perry to define what is art include economic because there is a lot of money, almost 43 billion pounds a year and which are sloshing through the art market. Economic is therefore one of the reasons why one should call what they do art since it’s a nice incentive. Another criterion is that because a person is an artist and this qualifies their work to be deemed works of art. Since it is something, a person does, maybe they just want a good excuse to do something. Therefore, something that an individual loves doing can be considered works of art.

However, there are criteria that can be used to determine what is not art. For example, when an art becomes incredibly famous, it ceases to be an art and this includes the example of the Mona Lisa which Perry can hardly see it as an art. Another criterion to determine what an art is whether it is in a gallery or an art context. Another boundary is it a boring version of something else, if not, that art should be considered a joke and not art. Another criterion is whether it made by an artist – there is no such thing as art, only artists, and therefore, a person has to be an artist for them to make art. Another criterion is photography-problematic. In the 1990s, every second show seemed to be photography, but currently, there are endless snaps, making it to determine what is photography. According to Perry, if people are smiling in a photo, that is probably not a piece of art.

2. Do you agree with Perry’s definitions?  Go through his list, and see if there are ones you agree with, or ones you don’t.  Explain why you agree or disagree with the points he makes.

Perry has made various definitions in his lecture. One the definitions that I agree with include the definition of an art photo. According to Perry, an art photo is defined as any photo that is bigger than two meters and it is priced higher than five figures. I do agree with this definition in that famous artist such as Andreas Gursky make huge photographs, sometimes four meters by two meters, and his photographs are worth higher than five figures. For example, his ‘Rhine’ photograph has the highest price of any photograph ever, being priced at 4.5 million dollars.

3. Now that you have listened to the lecture, what have you learned?  Has the lecture changed the way that you consider works of art?  If so, how?

Listening to the lecture has made me think deeply especially what has to or not be considered as art. For example, if an art has been famous, it does not qualify to be called art. Other boundaries that can be used to determine whether it is a piece of art include whether it is in a gallery or an art context. Another boundary is it a boring version of something else, if not, that art should be considered a joke and not art. Another criterion is whether it made by an artist – there is no such thing as art, only artists, and therefore, a person has to be an artist for them to make art. Another criterion is photography-problematic. This lecture has really made me realize that you have to be an artist for you to make a work of art.

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