Why Art Matters

Gerhard Richter Does Art Really Matter?

The answer of course is YES, but I would guess that a majority of people would say NO.  It’s easy to understand why.  Life is busy and complicated and Art feels like something that has no relevance to our daily lives.  But take a moment to think about the clothes we wear, or the package design that covers pretty much everything we buy; think about the spaces we inhabit, the furniture we use; think of the shapes, patterns and colors that surround us.  Now consider the music we listen to, or the films we watch, or the dances that we mimic.  When you look at it in this light, it becomes difficult to deny the fact that art is a huge part of our every day life.

Now of course there is art, and there is “Fine” Art.  Fine Art is the one that emanates from Plato’s realm of forms.  It’s art with a capital A, its offspring are Beauty and Truth and people find it rarefied and hard to understand.  But if you try to think of it as the difference between Ready-to-Wear and Haute Couture, it becomes much simpler.  Haute Couture pushes boundaries, questions and explores.  Haute Couture sets the trends, which then trickle down into Ready-to-Wear.  Fine Art does the same thing.  It pushes, it questions, it explores and the trends that emerge trickle down into the art of our every day lives.

Keep in mind, Fine Artists aren’t trying to tell you what to think, so there’s no pressure in terms of that.  But they do want you to think.   For them, Art is just another way to understand the world, but that understanding is wholly dependent on the viewer.  As the observer, you choose how much you want to participate. And just like fashion it is not one-size-fits-all, you have to find what speaks to you.

The bottom line is this:  From Paleolithic handprints to Grecian Urns; from The Great Pyramids to Picasso; from Prokofiev to Richter, it is the great art of a culture that always endures. Even when we look to the future and the unknown, we never do so without art.  We have beamed the image of Mona Lisa into space, and we have sent recordings of Beethoven and the Beatles on our spaceships.  Art teaches us what it is to live in this world.  It helps us understand what it is to be human, and it helps us to understand our place in the universe.

If you’re interested in making art matter more for you, here are a few things to try:

  • Consider taking advantage of the After Dark program at your local museum. Have a drink with friends and just hang out among the works of art.  Repeated viewings often bring greater insight.
  • Spend a day trying to find some cool street art.  Downtown LA’s Arts District is a great place to explore.
  • Make a point of attending an Art Walk in your city.  If you’re in NYC, Chelsea Art Walk is a fun start.  If you’re in LA, check out the Art Walk every second Thursday of the month.  It’s a great way to meet people and many of the local restaurants offer good deals.

How do you incorporate art into your everyday life?