Thoughts on My Upcoming Book
We have a vague sense that art is important, that it presents a handful of humanity’s greatest achievements – the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, and that it describes a creative activity to which we should aspire. Yet we probably spend more time binge watching a TV show over one weekend than viewing art in a year, as we spend more money on a single gym outfit, even if we skip too many sessions, than we do on artistic activities. When we are confronted by Marcel Duchamp’s The Large Glass in the Philadelphia Art Museum, our coldness is predictable. We wonder what we are missing. An equivalent vacancy appears across whole wings of art museums, usually the medieval or more religious sections, and our method of window shopping adopts greater haste when we peek into an art gallery window and rush by on our mobile phones. We sense a greater joy lingering behind the objects. Others are experiencing it, but they are “artsy,” or maybe we’d accuse them of pretentiousness. We resign ourselves to visiting museums on vacation and doing our best, but admit we’ll never revel in the awareness that greets our more artistic friends.
Most of life is a matter of practice. Art is inherent and biological, but artists don’t make it easy. They prize novelty and trade on cultural innuendo. Music moves us naturally, hypnotically, while fictional stories inject us into the protagonist’s life through empathetic immersion. We get training on music and fiction in grade school, as we do with art, but the artistic subjects are jettisoned away like the first engines of a rocket as we reach escape velocity into adulthood. Suddenly we aren’t getting practice sessions with visual art, and although we’re somewhat comfortably educated and on most days consider ourselves professionally successful, art is that nagging topic which fills the debris of our academic memories. We don’t have time to study it – why would when we’re behind on last season’s hot TV episodes that are filling social media and when we haven’t purchased an artwork in the last year?
We need our artistic reintroduction to be efficient. That’s why I wrote Art: Becoming Comfortable, Fast. Running a small art business I realized that my less studied clients weren’t quickly enjoying artwork, and many people weren’t becoming customers in the first place, usually because they didn’t think art was for them. Nonsense. Humans painted walls long before they wrote stories. Our visual consumption overwhelms all other senses. In a world where we often fall into superficial news scanning and easy watching, we have few other avenues which are explicitly dedicated to provoking us with questions.
Most books about art treat the subject historically. A few introduce the philosophy behind it while many more aspire to fill a corner of your coffee table with small images of a museum exhibit. They don’t ask you Why we consider art in the first place or to build your own working definition of the word, “art.” The histories are too long and the philosophy too opaque. This volume is built around the primary questions we ask ourselves, consciously and subconsciously, about any topic we value: Why, What, When, Where, How, Who. It gives you information, pictures, citations, and questions, so that in a few hours between more distracting activities, you can wipe the furrowed brow off your face and make art engaging. Let me know how it works for you!
***Updated 8/30/17. Which Cover Do You Prefer??***