Tuesday, January 4, 2011
The tag line, "What Medieval Art Has That Contemporary Art Badly Needs" led me to a great commentary in the Atlantic Monthly. Written by Andrew Baker in response to a less than inspiring visit to the Whitney Biennial, "The Cloisters: A Good Place to Start" compares the experience of viewing works by anonymous artisans and the exquisitely painted The Merode Altarpiece triptych by Robert Campin to works by several more "famous" artists many of us know and love, including Mark Rothko. In sum, Baker suggests that "...devotion—more than talent, craft, inspiration, or even time—is what separates them from us." In other words, instead of seeking fame and fortune, medieval artists likely cared more about the artwork itself, and they were devoted to the act of making something worth remembering. If you're looking for something to read, I recommend this provocative article about artists' motivations as well as similarities and differences concerning what the historical and current art worlds might value most.