We find that ineffable point at which so much art fails. Realist or abstraction, unless a work maintains this precarity, honors the essential nature of the gaps, it promotes a lie. Asks us to be complicit in a fraud.
When this happens in the service of an ideology or institution the result is propaganda. When a work fails to move beyond where the artist feels they are comfortable, controlling the outcome, getting what they expected; it only promotes the lie that our wishes trump what-is.
Art has been a vital human activity for at least tens of thousands of years. Its current marginal status, as an entertainment for those with time to kill and money to burn, cannot trivialize that deep history.
Let’s cut through, let’s jump over all the various superficial rationalizations put forward to explain art’s value. Lifetimes have been lost chasing after the fine points of aesthetic criticism, following fads and schools….
Art is where we interact with questions of meaning.
The art we make exists as a residue, artifacts of that interaction. They serve a multitude of purposes. Fundamentally they are a record of where individuals have passed as they grappled with universal questions of meaning, providing lessons and examples, as well as serving to encourage those of us who follow.