The theme of these past readings has been pillage and patronage. We have looked at government supporting of the arts, what that means, and how artistic patronage has changed. For example, there was one article discussing the Medici family during the Italian Renaissance. This is when our idea of political patronage actually began. This family exerted huge monetary, political, and sometimes religious power over Florence and in doing so, supported the Renaissance and made art valuable in our minds today. Europe has been the world's chosen location for artistic prestige. The country has hosted and initiated so many important movements and the persistence of the Western classical art training refers back to European artists. Europe is also the location of much of the world's art, which also makes it vulnerable to pillage. This was seen especially during World War II when Hitler pillaged the Louvre and other locations with valuable art in France and censored and encouraged specific art. Even as the idea of "fine art" traversed the globe, Europe still remained and continues to remain relevant in the global arts community. However, we may see Europe's relevance decline as public funding for the arts declines. American supporters of funding and subsidizing the arts point to Europe, which has consistently subsidized and supported artists, but due to the global economic crisis and the changing ideologies worldwide, we are seeing a sharp decline in public funding for the arts all over the continent, but also in places where the standing of the arts seemed most favorable, like in the UK or the Netherlands.
These articles all discussed the support and the destruction of important pieces of art. However, none of them really defined art or what a culturally significant piece is defined as. There are so many products produced daily. Objects inherently have value if they are ancient, but everyday more and more art, more products, and more artistic products and exhibitions of design are being produced everyday. How can governments choose what pieces are most valuable and worthy of production and how do governments decide what is worthy of being subsidized in the modern day. None of the articles explicitly addressed the cultural significance of any piece specifically. These articles posed situations that can bring up one's core existential values like whether or not one's heritage or one's mark on the world is more important than their life at the moment. Some of these issues were discussed in seminars but if we do not know how something is defined, we cannot conclude anything about it or think beyond to the implications of these definitions.
These readings are presented to a class of liberal, young, creative students who are getting one of the most inclusive and sometimes the most cynical depictions of history that is offered in this state and probably in this country. Our discussions generally turn into rants on politics, regarding issues that we all agree on. For example, my group today was talking about where to cut and where to spend which led us on a tangent on the US's excessive military spending, which we all agreed was excessive. We for the most part all agree that censorship is bad, patronage is good, pillaging is bad, museums should be protected, and that Hitler did nothing for European artistic promotion. No one in an art class is going to argue against a positive community for artistic advancement and none of the articles made any controversial theses that would be cause for significant and thought-provoking discussion. Most of us need very little context, which is all that articles like the Medici blog post were about. Most of these articles are pretty interesting, but none really present any ideas or arguments that would promote argument among a group of liberal, relatively politically aware art students. We all share the basic core views regarding art, politics, and history so these articles are not particularly challenging or though provoking, they merely reaffirm what we already think. I believe tougher ideological questions need to be posed and what we are discussing must be very specific and detailed, but at the same time, inherently controversial if we are to actually be forced to think.
I am an art student at Maggie Walker and this is the place where I talk about what we're making and what we're learning... Through this I can pour out my heart about my artistic experience.