|Sport evaluating a flower|
"Art is subjective. There inherently cannot be experts."We had a back and forth about his comment, which I disagreed with, mostly because I thought he missed the point and point of view of the writer. In one context, I feel my friend is entirely correct. As far as restoring art or authenticating known works of art and antiquities, yes, experts are, in fact, necessary and valued. However, I believe the author was poking at a different "expert," the art critic, gallery owner or art collector of modern contemporary art that is made by living artists today, here and now. You know, art experts of The Art World™. I also think the comment refers to the aesthetics of the art itself and not the monetary value placed on art due to the opinions of the aesthetics of others.
In this context, this is a great statement. But in general, it is a stupid statement, as any art authenticator or restorer will legitimately tell you.
So, does the statement "Art is subjective" and the conclusion that there inherently cannot be experts hold up. Well, in this context, yes, I think it does. Each viewer and appreciator of art (and by appreciate, I do not necessarily imply "positive feelings towards") comes at any one piece or performance with their own background, experiences and set of values that inform whether or not this piece or performance has meaning to that particular viewer. What provokes meaning or an emotional response from one person may not do so for another. In that context, yes, art is subjective. More than that, art is inherently subjective and therefore there cannot be "experts." But in terms of viewing art as a commodity and "if I buy this, will it have resale value for me?" well, that's another ball of wax entirely.
When you view art as a commodity — something that an artist like Jeff Koons comments on with his work (Yes, we got it the first time. You can stop with the enormous silver balloon rabbit sculptures, thanks)— then, I feel, by placing a monetary value on the art, you devalue it emotionally; you strip the art of its psychological value. You replace the emotional and psychological value of the work on its own merits with emotional and psychological value based on the perceived monetary value or worth. Two separate things that have become synonymous too often, in my view. I liken it to the change from the post-WWII era view of buying a house as a home where you planned to live your life to the post-modern view of the home as an investment, something you "flip." Perhaps that's the point of view that Mat Gleason was coming from.
There is nothing wrong with checking in with the opinions of others when it comes to contemporary art. You can open up new perspectives for yourself if you stop to consider the aesthetisc of others. I think, however, the statement: "Art is subjective. There inherently cannot be experts" is meant more as push-back against dismissing certain kinds of art and performances simply on the opinion of a select few. If the experts told you to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge...
Small anecdotal example I ran into just after this thread on my Facebook page: I am subscribed to an art critic on Facebook, apparently. (an aside: Ignorant me had no idea who this person was, only that he was a friend of a friend and his statuses would show up on my ticker. The statements and discussions were interesting to me and funny. He had a large friend list. I didn't know him personally but he allowed subscriptions so I added myself to the list. Funny guy. Giants fan. New Yorker. I got a kick out of him. Turms out he's a major art critic when I searched his name on Google. So immersed in The Art World™ am I (not) that I hadn't a clue who he was. Nice to be involved in a profession and be utterly void of knowledge of the major figures in the industry. But then, fame and fortune are not why I do what I do. I make art because I don't know how not to, and it's a form of communication that's socially accepted enough to keep me from being committed. There I said it.) So anyway, this critic, from what I've been able to gather, is... how should I put this? unimpressed with the latest "spot painting" art of Damien Hirst. If you don't know which Damien Hirst I'm speaking of, he's the one who makes large paintings of dotted wrapping paper. Okay, that was mean, but I, too, am unimpressed with, well, large paintings of dotted wrapping paper. However, the conventional wisdom of some "expert" out there in The Art World™ has deemed that his shit don't stink and his art commands a lot of money. Go figure.
And that, I think is the crux of the statement "Art is subjective. There inherently cannot be experts." Even other art "experts" dislike pieces that other "experts" love. So don't be afraid to go against the flow if your heart finds something meaningful and provocative that others dismiss. Love it if it speaks to you. And don't love it, and don't be afraid to say so, if the "experts" say yes and you, no matter how hard you try, just don't get it.