Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What is the social function of art? Part One.

‎"In a decaying society, art, if it is truthful, must also reflect decay and, unless it wants to break faith with its social function, art must show the world as changeable and help to change it." -- Ernst Fischer

My friend, Jean Eisenhower, posted the above quote on her Facebook wall.

Do you agree or disagree with what Fischer is saying here? I disagree. Below, I will begin an attempt to support that stance. I would love to hear what you think about the above quote.

My opinion is that the social function of art is to uplift, enlighten, and inspire. I hope that my art is able to do that for others. I want to create beauty so that the viewer will be reminded of the beauty that is all around them, if only for one fleeting moment. A sight of beauty can touch one so deeply and penetrate through layers of discord. A glimpse of beauty can heal our aching and longing for a better world. And hopefully, inspire action to create a better world.

I recently watched the movie, Local Color, about the director's encounter with Russian painter, Nikolai Seroff. Seroff's strong opinion throughout the movie validated my own experience of thinking about art. He also thought that art's purpose was to uplift mankind. In the movie, we get to see another opposing opinion through many heated discussions between a friend of Seroff's and himself. The director is an 18 year old at the time of his encounter with Seroff so most of what Seroff was philosophizing about was a little over his head at the time. I think every artist should see this movie.  It is thought provoking and teaches some of Seroff's painting techniques. Most of the discussions were about the differing opinions of the value of representational art vs. abstract expressionistic art.  Whether an artist paints representational or abstractly does not matter to me. I think what one can gather from the movie is more about the heart of art and what the artist is trying to convey with his art. Just listening to the trailer for this movie is inspiring: http://www.localcolormovie.com/. You can read a blog post that I enjoyed reading about the movie here: http://ericmerrell.wordpress.com/2008/09/27/local-color-the-movie/.

Stay tuned as I unfold further thoughts on this subject. Please join the conversation. I would love to hear your ideas.

Pictured above: © Mary A. Gravelle, Oh the Possibilities, 12 x 16 inches, acrylic on canvas, original is sold. Fine art prints can be purchased.

1 comment:

  1. As a musical artist, I will quote a musician (JS Bach)! Bach said: “The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.” I truly believe this, although substituting another word for God may be more appropriate for some. For me, this is the aim of my art, my music. Even my song about a sexy sundress, or a groundhog--it's still about about celebrating this incredible universe. --Wally