Thursday, February 26, 2009

Elitist Art

I'm listening to CBC Radio One, as usual. Q just ended, wherein Jian Ghomeshi was speaking to a producer of a documentary about a couple who collected art over the years and recently donated the entire collection to an art museum. The producer said she struggled at first with the making of the film, because she would ask Herb and Dorothy why they purchased a particular painting, and the response was inevitably, "I liked it. It's beautiful." The filmmaker was at first horrified that these people could not articulate their reasons for liking the art. I got worried.

This attitude that one must be able to wax pseudo-intellectual about art, or music, or, yes, literature! perpetuates the notion that art is elitist. This is the wrong way to think about it! All forms of art should be accessible to everyone! I can't imagine an artist, or a musician or a writer claiming that they don't want their material to be enjoyed (or purchased!) by someone who does not have a vocabulary the size of North America to discuss it. It seems to me that artists create because it's in their souls. They hope to build an appreciative audience and likely aren't going to be snobbish about who is permitted to make it up.

The filmmaker redeemed herself by coming to this conclusion herself, and recognising that part of Herb and Dorothy's charm is just that: they love art, they love the pieces they chose, and don't give a damn whether they "fit in" with all the art intellectuals.

I make no apology for the fact that I didn't like The Great Gatsby. I didn't finish Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell because it was BORING. Salman Rushdie uses too many damn words such that once I finish a sentence I can't remember how it began. 

There you go. I'm not wrong. I just don't pretend to be anything I'm not.

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