I could do that …Or An Art Curator Explains Why You Couldn’t

natkalbachIcoulddothat

A couple weeks ago I posted on my n*Studio Facebook page this video by the Art Assignment/PBS about an art curator explaining why she thinks, saying “I could do that” when standing in front of some art work, is actually not right. This caused a lively discussion on my page which I really enjoyed and therefore I thought I should share it on my blog again and see what you are thinking about this:

What do you think? Is Art simply the merit of “the artist thought about it first”? or do you agree what this topic is so much more complex?

I never liked hearing “I could Do That” even though I sometimes do not understand a piece of art in an exhibition and is maybe only getting a shoulder shrug from me. For me the art work needs to provoke emotions, wether they are good or bad and yes…I can be a silly person just being insanely happy by seeing beautiful colors and texture – a Pollock might make me smile senseless while others cannot understand why this is called art ;) . What I often times don’t get are contemporary installations – …but I have never said “Oh, I could do that”. The more I learn about the background of the art work or the artist or the context in which the piece was created – the time, the material etc, the more I might be able to appreciate the work, even if it doesn’t speak to me. I thought the Curators’ example of Felix Gonzalez-Torres “Perfect Lovers” was a wonderful way to explain her point.  I find it often inspiring for my own work to find more information about art work or the artist and sometimes art work that I couldn’t appreciate years earlier does becomes way more interesting or even speaks to me later, while other artwork I loved earlier just becomes boring or not that important to me anymore.  As I change, my taste for art work changes. I know some people got really upset about this topic and I think it is because art is often times forced on us in such an elitist way. I always think- Screw you – Art is for the masses and not for just a handful of folks ;) Anyway, I could ramble on- but I would love to hear your thoughts :)

Comments (7)

  • Rebecca Buchanan

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    Nathalie, I am just getting around to reading this post and watching the video and am really glad I did. This video has made me want to be more curious about any art I view in the future, especially if I’m perhaps having trouble appreciating it. The only time I’ve ever entertained the thought, “I could do that,” is when it is something I want to do. Of course there are many things I want to do that I don’t believe I could do or even want to try myself, but if I really love a work and it is in a medium that I work in or want to work in, the thought is more of an inspirational type thought, like ‘I could try that.’ I too bristle when I overhear or have someone with me who makes that statement in a way that is dismissive of the work. After watching this video, I can now see that I may have been too quick in assuming I don’t appreciate something when perhaps there is more of a story behind it that I would find interesting if I took the time to find out about it. Very though provoking–thanks so much for sharing!

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  • Cindy Connell

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    Hey Nat!
    I watched this video when you first posted it and again now. I gave me a lot to think about. I am not formally trained in art and could not connect famous names and their work to save my life. I do have an appreciation for many different styles of art though. I did learn though about the detail in pieces like Piet Mondrian’s Composition Red Yellow and Blue. Like other I may have been tempted to reproduce it… but not with acrylic paint on canvas. Understanding how something is made usually gets my appreciation over anything else. Like you and others though… I like what I like!
    Cindy Connell

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    • Nathalie Kalbach

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      I totally can see how the “how it is made” point gets you intrigued- I am the same way :) For example a year ago or so there was an exhibition at MoMA – Robert Gobert – https://www.moma.org/visit/calendar/exhibitions/1495  – it was interesting but I do have to admit it wasn’t really for me – although it provoked feelings- if sometimes negative. – but I could totally appreciate his way of creating is art – that was actually pretty compelling. I wouldn’t have know that if I hadn’t had a class that was connected with this exhibition and it made me see it in a different light – and maybe some time I can appreciate it even more.

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  • Deborah A. Pierro

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    Thanks for the video, Nat. I learned a lot from it about how each of us, as an artist, brings something to our work that is uniquely ours. I now have an understanding, and more perspective, about other artists’ motivations and ideas that go into their works.

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  • Sue Clarke

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    I enjoyed that video and love the questions that she poses.
    I have heard folks saying “I could do that” and my response (in my head), is so do it.
    I do find that if I know more about the artist I often appreciate the piece more.

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    • Nathalie Kalbach

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      That is so true Sue, I feel the same- the more I can connect or understand the artist the more I can connect or appreciate the artwork.

      Reply

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