Last night I went to the Akron Art Museum for a panel discussion with some of the artists represented in the exhibit, Beauty Reigns: A Baroque Sensibility in Recent Painting. This is the same show that I recently blogged about. The artists a part of this art talk were Kamrooz Aram, Nancy Lorenz, and Susan Chrysler White. They discussed what role beauty plays in painting today, and what stimulates contemporary artists to utilize bright colors and layered compositions, amongst many other things.
There was some discussion about whether their work was ornamental, or decorative in nature. Before the Arts and Crafts Movement, lower status was given to works of decorative art compared to fine art. The Arts and Crafts Movement led to the decorative arts being given a higher status in society with a greater appreciation.
Thinking of categorizing ones art into a certain category really made me think. Lines are blurred so much in this day and age regarding what is considered art, or fine art, etc. In the past, fine art was judged for its meaningfulness and beauty, and the the fact that it was in "good taste". Today, there could be art with "bad taste" which could be considered avant-garde. These avant-garde pieces could now be considered fine art. The decorative arts were originally excluded from being considered fine art, but now there are no exclusions because the intention or concept of the artist is given priority, regardless of the way the artist chooses to express themselves.
To an observer, a painting that is ornamental in nature that seems to have no meaning may be full of deep inspiration from the artist. On the other hand, a painting that could be considered "fine art" may have no meaning at all. Having these blurred lines for categorizing one's art can be freeing and at the same time, confusing. Today, whether a piece of art is considered purely ornamental, decorative, fine art, or "beautiful" is up for debate. Recently, I have been combining what would be considered "fine art" with design just to see what happens, and I am loving the results! Art is always changing and I love living in a time of blurred lines!