Monday, March 01, 2010

The Future of Art

In an article in the Guardian, artist Antony Gormley discusses the need to rethink the purpose of art. One of his main concerns is the fate of art in the face of a possible climate crisis. He asks, in reference to artists, “what do we do when faced with the global climate crisis in a culture that encourages us to do more, produce more, be seen more?”

He asserts that human evolution has been driven by cultural rather than biological changes and that we need to re-evaluate our values and material culture. The idea of “more is better” can no longer persist nor can we ignore problems created by technology.

Gormley is also concerned with the focus of art. He says, “art, certainly western art, has been an expression of confidence: confidence in a culture's lifestyle and in its continuity into the future. Now art undermines and investigates systems of power and, rather than projecting stable, traditional values into the future, questions the viability of any kind of future at all.”

To Gormley, too much focus has shifted from art’s central subject of the human being to its monetary worth. He cites the Guggenheim and Tate “franchises” as examples of the art world’s expansion and ties to capitalism. He does, however, differentiate galleries as containing “forms and experiences that inspire, question and extend human experience,” as opposed to shops that provide commodities. He wants artists to alter the function of art so that it can fit within a sustainable lifestyle, such as those of earlier societies like the Tahitians.

Gormley has made efforts at his studio to reduce his carbon footprint but wonders if his actions have produced any true benefit or if they are only serving to ease his conscience. Ultimately, he believes that his “greatest responsibility is to make work in the most direct way, and interpret his time and place in a way that makes people more aware of themselves and it.”

This article raises many important issues and questions, and we at the Georgia Museum of Art would be interested in hearing your comments or opinions.

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