A few days ago, SarahP commented on the difference between visual arts & music, suggesting, "Imagine if you could complete a drawing or painting, set it on a stage and have a room full of people clap or "boo" a response!!!". It reminded me that somewhere (in an article or a blog I read) someone suggested an annual Academy Awards ceremony for artists.
I remember back in grad school, when the Guerilla Girls came to visit. They talked about art world politics, the importance of "connections", and having the right people "back" your work, citing these as reasons that women artists were at a disadvantage. I already knew that juried shows were not taken very seriously by "those who know".... now that I have juried a few shows, I understand why this is true. But part of me wondered why there were no "serious" blind competitions... real work instead of slides, jurors who have no vested interest in any of the artists applying, etc. ... wouldn't this even the playing field?
What kind of categories would we have for an Artists' Academy Awards? Painting/installation/video/sculpture of the year, most innovative use of medium, risk-taking or "stepping outside your comfort zone" award, best body of work by an artist who grosses less than 20K from art sales (like an indie award), best conceptual work fabricated by someone else, etc.
BBC reports that someone had an idea for a reality-based TV show looking for the World's Best Painting. This story was written in late 2005, and I could not find anything more recent on this attempt. Maybe the idea morphed into ARTSTAR, and that will be the end of it...(can't you just picture the meeting where this happened?).....if true, that would be most unfortunate.
Although it could easily happen in the current environment, and that would be another tragedy, the "world's best painting" should not be confused with the world's most expensive painting, recently in the news. It is interesting to note that the world's most expensive painting to date, a Klimt, was considered by the purchaser to be Klimt's SECOND best work, after "The Kiss". If $=greatness, does that automatically mean that "The Kiss" is the world's greatest work of art?
Britain had 118,000 people vote on their favorite painting, but it had to be hanging in a British museum. Here's another guy who has already decided on the Best Painting in the Western World.
What do you think the qualifications should be for "the world's greatest painting"? Should it be judged in the context of when it was made, i.e., a breakthrough in art history, or a cross-centuries, empirical "best of"....?
I think my criteria would be: how many people are moved by it and simultaneously made to think? You would need to allow the "wow" factor to happen, create an insulated environment where you met the art, face to face, and looked at them side by side. I think that the 5 runners-up should be hung in a room, with the walls painted black, and the judges should go in, one at a time, take as long as they want, and then move to a black decompression chamber, where they could reflect and see which one haunted them, resonated, even after they had left its presence.
Who would the judges be? The Academy Awards are juried by one's peers. Who could we trust as a juror who knows art, but has no agenda? Maybe for the regionals, we could bring in curators from the other side of the world, ones who have been carefully screened for for painting biases, but who would judge the finals? Artists, curators, or a mix of both?
What if the world's greatest painting was done by someone that nobody ever heard of, someone who is not in "the system"? Museum directors and collectors could nominate pieces in their collections, but a true judgment calls for a "far and wide" search, like in the fairy tales, where a year is spent disseminating information, with all of the news media participating, because artists sometime hide out in their studios for months at a time, and it would be tragic if the world's greatest artist was so busy working that they did not find out about the contest. There would be flyers and mass mailings and everyone would be talking about it, even in line at the supermarkets, so all the artists would know where to bring their painting, and on what day, for the preliminaries. And, of course, a stipend for the dirt poor artists who can't afford to cart their large masterpiece anywhere.
Elsewhere, in the studio today, I painted the dark spaces IN BETWEEN the leaves I painted yesterday, here (lower left of painting)
and here (upper left of painting).
I would liken the experience to cleaning the grout between 4 inch tiles in a 500 square foot men's shower with a toothbrush. I had to take a break and do some hair embroidery. My neck and arms hurt. Makes me want to learn Photoshop, take photos with my digital camera, and email the images to someone who will blow them up, mount them on the back of some luscious plexi or on the front of some sexy aluminum, and ship them to the gallery for me. : )
Finally, have a drink tonight and toast a non-fictional artist in Australia who did herself in while preparing for a big show. 47 year old Bronwyn Oliver dedicated her life to her work, and was found yesterday in her studio.