Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Will You Sign This Petition ?

O.K -- perhaps it's a bit long-winded -- but everyone at the Palette and Chisel should consider joining Sue Lyon and Scott Burdick in signing the petition created by Miles Mathis regarding the National Portrait Competiton run by the National Portrait Gallery.

Here's the first paragraph:

We, the undersigned, have attached our names to this letter in order to protest the appropriation of the National Portrait Competition by a narrow political faction. This portrait competition is sponsored by the trust of the late Virginia Outwin Boochever. Ms. Outwin Boochever underwrote this prize because she loved figurative drawings, paintings and sculpture. From the earliest stages of planning for this prize, it was clear that her intention was to encourage art by the old definition: art as beauty, as subtlety, as depth, as direct emotion, as skill, as craft. She did not desire nor foresee that this prize would become another medal on the breast of the avant garde. She did not intend to subsidize further research into Theory or socio-politics, she did not intend to subsidize divisiveness or activism, nor did she intend to encourage victimhood and the culture of complaint.

If the members of the P&C won't stand up for aesthetic value in portraiture -- well --- who will ?

(By the way -- this cause is not restricted to political conservatives -- and, like myself, Mr. Mathis is something of a tree-hugging, bleeding-heart liberal. But effective advertising is one thing -- while great painting is something else.)


Blogger Cobalt Blue said...

Link to petition is bad, Chris -- I'd love to look at it, though.

December 26, 2006  
Blogger chris miller said...

Sorry about the link -- it should be working fine now.

December 26, 2006  
Blogger Cobalt Blue said...

Thanks, it's working. And it is too long-winded, but it is a refreshing breeze in the art world. We'll see how long it lasts. In the meanwhile, I'll sign.

December 27, 2006  
Blogger chris miller said...

On second thought -- the real issue -- for me -- is that ALL of the portraits chosen for recognition presented people as stupid, awkward, or ugly.

Ugly is OK -- and I've even come to enjoy Lucien Freud -- but it seems that the judges here thoroughly excluded any presentation of people as charming, wise, seductive, profound, elegant, intelligent -- i.e. all the characteristics that people want to see in themselves when portraits get commissioned.

So this exhibit was exlusively juried as an anti-portrait show -- thereby excluding all the most successful portrait painters of the country.

And this is also O.K. -- there should be anti-portrait shows for people who enjoy such things-- but they should not live off the endowment for a portrait-portrait show ---- and this sort of thing has happened all across the art world: where a scholarship-show-institution that was founded for art is re-directed towards anti-art.

December 27, 2006  
Blogger Cobalt Blue said...

I agree--the stuff they chose is mostly dreck. As for entire institutions devoting themselves to the mission of anti-art, witness your last post, to name an egregious example.

December 27, 2006  
Blogger Seckman said...

I'll sign it. The most compelling case for me is the fact that third prize went to a painting that doesn't even show the person's face. Is it really that interesting to challenge what the idea of a portrait is to the point of not showing the subject's face? It isn't to me. It is the obvious rebellious juvenile answer to the assignment. Hurray for the smart-ass. Even for conceptual art it is weak.

December 27, 2006  
Blogger chris miller said...

Just found this quote from Richard Schmid that someone used in an internet discussion -- and it seems relevant here:

"Contrary to contemporary art doctrine, however, modern art is not an evolutionary extension of classical painting any more than random computer music is an outgrowth of traditional violin technique."

(and I doubt that he's the first P&C member to express this idea)

December 30, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I won't sign it; it is ultimately pointless to complain how a private endowment spends its money. (Even if the exhibition is held in a public space.)

Furthermore, the petition is poorly written and horrendously constructed from a logical standpoint.

This is merely seeking any opportunity to expouse the ARC-neo-Boug-bring back the 19th century philosophy. (Did he actually look at the finalists??) I didn't see anything that looked even vaguely AB-Ex or Avant Garde.

If there is anything to lament here, it is that the work is dominated by photo derived imagery.

(not a member, but sometimes-studio-rat at P&C)

January 03, 2007  
Blogger chris miller said...

Thanks for the comments, Scott.

Thankfully (at least in Illinois) it's no longer "ultimately pointless to complain how a private endowment spends its money" -- thanks to legislation that was passed as a consequence of the Ferguson Fund scandal at the Art Institute -- where Ferguson's private endowment earmarked for public sculpture was diverted into building offices for museum administration. (the "Ferguson Wing" that starts 100 feet south of the Lions)

So now any ordinary citizen has standing to raise this kind of issue in court.

And sometimes it needs to be raised -- because all American cultural institutions (other than public schools) are private corporations -- and they need feedback from those who are supposedly served by them.

January 05, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for trying Chris. Very few were courageous enough to sign. Most found an excuse to do nothing, as usual.

Miles Mathis

November 15, 2007  

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