Sunday, September 23, 2012

continuing from the previous post











The difference between self-importance and seriousness; between self-consciousness and self-awareness; between trying to make something for a popular or an educated audience and simply doing it; between the risks of taking too much for granted and not enough, regarding yourself or your audience.

Film historians don't condescend to Chaplin or Hawks as opposed to Eisenstein and Godard, but theoreticians and practitioners of "fine art" are torn. It's similar to the history of racial divisions and influence in popular music, theater and sports.  But it's never simple. What is the difference between self-consciousness and self-awareness?  Who's to judge? Here's where things get really tricky.

Art Spiegelman called comic books "the bastard child of art and commerce" but he and everyone who repeats that phrase miss the point.   I quote Panofsky enough on all this. Most of the important art of the 20th century in any medium, is the bastard child of art and commerce.  It's the same damn essay but I don't repeat this quote as much.
While it is true that commercial art is always in danger of ending up as a prostitute, it is equally true that noncommercial art is always in danger of ending up as an old maid. Non commercial art has given us Seurat's "Grande Jatte" and Shakespeare's sonnets, but also much that is esoteric to the point of incommunicability. Conversely, commercial art has given us much that is vulgar or snobbish (two aspects of the same thing) to the point of loathsomeness, but also Durer's prints and Shakespeare's plays. For, we must not forget that Durer's prints were partly made on commission and partly intended to be sold in the open market; and that Shakespeare's plays -in contrast to the earlier masques and intermezzi which were produced at court by aristocratic amateurs and could afford to be so incomprehensible that even those who described them in printed monographs occasionally failed to grasp their intended significance- were meant to appeal, and did appeal, not only to the select few but also to everyone who was prepared to pay a shilling for admission.

It is this requirement of communicability that makes commercial art more vital than noncommercial, and therefore potentially much more effective for better or for worse.
"Serious people" now take comic books seriously; I don't.  I take animation seriously; I don't take video games seriously. These are longer arguments.

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