search  current discussion  categories  philosophy 

art vs craft - repost

updated sun 10 aug 03


Donn Buchfinck on sat 9 aug 03

Art vs Craft
It is in my opionion what is realy important is to define what is ART.
museum vs white cube mentality = rockstarism
The age ole debate comes up again.

There are craftsmen out in the world, people who work with their hands, who
love the material that they work with and the process they go through to
create something, most time these people work within a tradition, learning the
historical forms. Sometimes they become so good that they trancend the process
and lift the medium to a higher level of understanding. Sometimes there are
people to honor these people and sometimes not.

There is another group of people, where emotion and idea are supream.
Individuals of vision and depth, people who can see stuff in the world and who
have the ability to communicate it through thier actions. Sometimes the craft is
poor but the idea shines through. Speaking the language of the human spirit.
They are called artists.

These are not my terms. They are the terms that are given to us through
history. History is the great equalizer when it comes to the craft/art debate.
As maker of things out of clay, you can call yourself anything you wish.
Artist is better, you get more money and schools will give you tenure. Craftsmen
says that you are upholding a tradition, a living museum. Slowly giving
something to the tradition. this is the late 90's catch phrase now.
Artist is the high priest of our society, Actualy I call it Rockstarism.
The need to have recognition and make large sums of money based on work that
deals with the ego.

Craft vs Art, ask yourself, who will be remembered about the late 20th
century clay movement in the history books. There will be only one person. Peter
Volcos. That is it. It doesn't matter about any other clay art, he is the
father of the contemporary clay movement. The ceramic art scene has moved to
the university setting. With the ataining the collage teaching job as the
holy grail of achievment for the ceramic artist.
Ceramics, a minor art in it's own right has been searching for an identity
for years now, latching onto the vessel oriented ceramic object to the ceramic
sculpture movement that has little to do with what is going on in the
sculpture world today "who wants to talk about sculpture with the language of the
vessel" to, now we are trying to say we are part of the decorative movement. We
have turned our back on the fact that ceramics has the richest legacy of any
of the "ARTS" but we turned our backs on our heritage, looking to the
painters and sculptors, buying into rockstarism.
This debate is school driven, question driven. I visited a grad school a
few years ago and I was talking to a recent grad of thier grad program and he
talked about how important the questions were that we asked ourself. I've
given that statement a lot of thought and I disagree. The most important thing is
to make the best stuff you can and let history work it out.
Painters have thier VanGough, we have our George Orr.
To gain credibility the university art programs needed to deal with "critical
thought." But focusing on this critical thought has not helped the
contemporary ceramic movement mature. Until the new crop of ceramic artists stop
referencing thier work to pots that have already been made, the ceramic art medium
will not mature.
Craft can be about historical forms and processes. done well the object
touches something deap within us.
But artists have to start to dig thier own well of insperation. Look to the
source. Don't look at the contemporary stuff that is being made out there.
most of it is made for its shock factor, or it's ability to be different. I
cooked at a great pacific rim cusine resturante at one time and they served
medalions of lamb with blueberries and pizza sauce. No kidding. I think they
went a little over the edge with that one. And the ceramic world has gone over
the edge.
I was reading a comment section in one of the ceramic magazines and the
artist stated that in the beggining of thier work cycle they goto the museum, look
up historical pictures of work, do drawings.
is there any clay artists that make what they feel is regional stuff. Stuff
that deals with the area that they are from, issues that deal with what is
important to them.
And what is with this facination with Japenees pots. Why are the koreans not
mentioned. Where do all you people think most of the stuff came from.
Hey lets take 10 thousand hard bricks and build a replica of an anchient kiln
and burn several cords of wood, and make reproductions of some other cultures
pots, and call them art. You might get a lot of money for the pots but they
are still reproductions, the kind of stuff you get in the museum shops. Oh
yea Pete Volcos fires that way, but at least his work looks original.
I look to the contemporary english ceramic scene, and they seem to make some
work that says, we are england.