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Re: [BKARTS] WOID #XIII-18. Round hole in a square peg

I'm not yet a book artist...or any kind of artist....but for years I've had
an artist inside struggling to get out....I discovered this list searching
for Print On Demand info for an innovative business concept that I have...
and became enthralled with the idea of becoming a book artist....I am
beginning to study the politics in art....and as it is in life....politics
is involved in every aspect or genre of art....for example, what is
considered to be "Fine Art" and worthy of being displayed in the world's
vaulted museums, and to receive criticism as "Fine Art"?....

Without mentioning any names, let me just say that not only were the
contemporary oil paintings of a famous artist on display in a major museum I
visited, but alongside the paintings were mounted displays of this artist's
actual messy-looking palette and paper towels used to wipe his brushes...
and nobody, not even the high-brow, well-credentialed art critics, thought
to cry, "But wait!...The artist's palette and used, paint-smeared paper
towels are NOT considered "Fine Art", so what are THEY doing on display in
this vaulted museum?" I should think that if such personal items belonging
to a famous contemporary artist are considered "fine art" purely by virtue
of belonging to him or having come into contact with his profoundly talented
being, then so could used pieces of toilet paper smeared with his feces have
been as lovingly and respectfully displayed alongside his paintings, perhaps
a testament that this particular "Fine Artist", at least, is not so "full of
it" since he would obviously have effectively relieved himself of "it" to
some degree.....

Lest anyone consider my comments vulgar, I should ask you to consider that
what is truly and unacceptably vulgar is the condescending snobbery and
pseudo-intellectual posturing that is rampant among so-called art critics
and others of their ilk who populate the "Fine Art" world today...and it is
these, and no others, who pose a threat to the book artists.....it should
not matter if any artist produces or sells artists' books as a subset of any
other activities in art, or graphic design, or librarianship, or book
selling, you name it...I know of esteemed artists and dealers who hold lofty
positions in the art world who are involved in various disciplines and
genres of art that are so widely disparate that it is ludicrous to think any
particular creations should be excluded from the umbrella that encompasses 
Fine Art"....and no one looks askance at them or questions their validity or
wonders if their artistic priorities are in order if they at various times
feature or prefer one genre or discipline over another as their aesthetics
change, or more accurately stated for some, as they ride each successive
wave of popular new trends....and it is for no other reason than because
these people have managed to become "Insiders"....and I leave it to each of
you to best decide how to accomplish this magical feat....this is the
alchemy to which Paul T Werner refers in his astute and insightful
commentary about "Outsider Art and self-proclaimed Insiders"......I wonder
if you book artists shouldn't employ the services of a good spin doctor,
just like politicians and others who need to mold opinions in order to
achieve a desired status....

And as for attempting to differentiate between "serious book artists" and
the artsy-craftsy types who some accuse of over-indulging in personal
expression using materials and supplies purchased from Michael's....I think
this entire issue should be forgotten...this reminds me of a remark made by
Gloria Steinem about sexual politics, "I've never heard a man ask for advice
on how to combine marriage and a career." That's because it was understood
that men were qualified and competent to work, period. Women, on the other
hand, were often treated like second-class citizens in the corporate world
before they achieved greater equality with men. So I believe it is the same
with book artists...no one has the right to question your qualifications or
competency as artists...thus you should not feel the need to defend yourself
nor to distinguish your work from that of other artists whether, in your
opinion, they be true fellow artists or merely artsy-craftsy creative types.

I'm sorry to hear that Mr. Werner has lost track of the number of artists,
critics, dealers and collectors who've moved on from appreciating book arts,
and I assume this migration must be attributed to book artists' lack of
political currency and clout in the art world....a circumstance that must be
remedied not by the creation of specific vocabulary and criteria for the art
form and criticism thereof...but by some kick-ass politician-style
opinion-molding spin-doctoring, as I earlier recommended. Look, tattoo and
body piercing parlors were once the bastion of assorted creeps, felons and
weirdos, and now they have achieved respectability as valid forms of
self-expression. Did the traditional, well-respected style-meisters author
this profound change in image? No, they were too busy dressing the rich in
fancy salons....but while they weren't looking, the people took it upon
themselves to reject establishment rules and to reinterpret the previously
despised "body arts".....until it finally behooved the staid and stuffy
style-meisters to embrace the exciting new art forms....I am not comparing
book arts to "body arts" in an artistic sense...I am only making a point
about the force of social pressure to change long held, deeply accepted

If tattoos and body piercing can move from the underbelly of the world to
high society....then book arts can ascend from step-child status to
attaining acceptance as fine art....but not without its artists and devotees
keeping fire in their bellies and thumbing their noses at the stuffed-shirt
know-it-all windbags who try to hold them back....think about the power of
mass psychology....if you as a group do not maintain with unstoppable zeal
that, dammit, you ARE unquestionably creating "Fine Art" that is worthy of
all the lofty treatment of other recognized and accepted art forms...then
you are yourselves contributing to the problem of a lack of recognition and
acceptance....you each should eat, sleep, drink and think 24/7 that you ARE
supremely talented, bonafide artists creating Fine Art....put that focused
energy out there and expect the art world to adapt to your way of thinking..
..while also planning and implementing a full-scale, professional image
overhaul as I have recommended....perhaps you could take up a collection for
a sort of book artists PAC to lobby and romance (read bribe, just the way it
works in the US Senate, folks!) the powers that be who can help you become
the architects of change.

In closing I wish to say that with the explosion of multi-media creations
the "Fine Art" world is being forced to redraw its boundaries, redefining
what is considered "Fine Art"....so it should be an optimum time for those
with political acumen and savvy marketing ability, along with some stellar
connections in the world of fine arts (bought, borrowed or bribed, just as
powerful connections are forged elsewhere) to elevate the status of book
artists and their creations to the level of respectability enjoyed by
painters, sculptors, photographers, graphic artists and any other creators
of the myriad works that have been accepted as "Fine Art" and displayed in
respected Fine Art museums, regardless of whether or not their form or
content met any imaginary criteria established by the Insiders, some of whom
are mostly egotistical windbags spouting a bunch of unintelligible gibberish
that passes for profound expertise...in Texas we call that "baffling them
with BS" and it's what one does when one lacks substance and must rely upon
fooling the people with impressive-sounding puffery....now get out there and
kick some cultural ASS, you guys!!!!

> Paul T Werner wrote:
> > There may be a field for book arts, but there's no habitus, and perhaps
there never will be.
And I've lost track of the number of artists, critics, dealers, collectors
who've moved on, not because the
field "suffers from being under-theorized, under-historicized, under-studied
and under-discussed,"
as Drucker puts it, but because there is no cogent area of performance
marked off from other areas
like the fine arts, galleries, libraries, schools, printmaking workshops and
so forth. The field of
book arts consists of a lot of people who happen to write, or think, or
produce of sell books
as a subset of the same activity in art, or graphic design, or librarianship
 book-selling, you name it.
If Outsider Art is an art that depends for its definition on a
self-proclaimed Insider, then the book arts
are its mirror image: they exist, if that, only in the self-definition of a few practitioners.

Edelpappband / "Millimeter" Binding Bind-O-Rama, Entry Deadline - October 1, 2005
             For all your subscription questions, go to the
                      Book_Arts-L FAQ and Archive.
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