Art often comes from a place of pain. People that have suffered tend to make the best art because they are the ones that most direly need an outlet for their emotions, since when you undergo a great deal of suffering you are often left at a loss regarding how to explain that suffering. The human language tends to be thoroughly insufficient when you want to use it to describe certain things, with suffering being one of them.
An artist that manages to poignantly describe her feelings through art without seeming like she is putting herself up on display is Yayoi Kuyasama. One of the main aspects of her artwork that a lot of people tend to notice is the fact that there is a great deal of repetition. In order to understand the source of this artistic impetus, one must peel back the layers of Kuyasama’s life and see what things were like for her in the days of her youth. Kuyasama was severely abused by her mother as a child, and each day seemed to be an infinite cycle of this very abuse, a repetition as it were. As she grew older she began to see infinite repetition in everything. The daily drudgery of life, the incessant crawl of entropy, the meaninglessness of the universe.
Hence, Kuyasama tries to incorporate this repetition in her art. She always tries to evoke feelings of verisimilitude in her art, which is why she often incorporates people into her art displays, such as her one feature that showed herself and another woman covered in polka dots in order to describe how we hurt one another, how the suffering we inflict is often repetitive, and how over the course of even the longest lives things somehow manage to never change.
Clearly Kuyasama has a pessimistic streak to her, but it is important to realize that the often muted and infinitely subtle nature of her art makes it very palatable as well. It is fair to say that her art is firmly high concept, which means that you need to really delve into it in order to understand what is being said. This allows her art to be truly high quality in spite of the fact that she pours so much of herself into it. Postmodern art is very rarely about real things, it is usually meant to be art for art’s sake. Kuyasama has managed to create a space for herself within the postmodern art community while tackling one of postmodernisms greatest disadvantages: it is too far removed from reality.
According to Kuyasama, every piece of art she creates destroys her a little. A feeling this intense can only come from a truly magnificent work of art, and if you ever get the chance to go see what she has to offer you will realize that this is most certainly true. It is good to know that there are modern artists still pushing boundaries.
When it comes to the art world, men tend to have it a great deal easier than women. We would not have known quite as much about the plight of women in the art world had it not been for Linda Nochlin, one of the most divisive, acerbic and utterly iconic art historians in the world, who died on the 29th of October at the ripe old age of 86. She is perhaps best known for her essay “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?”, where her fiery rhetoric shed light on how much women struggle in the art world and how the system tends to be rigged against them.
Her career, which spanned five decades during which she worked as a writer, lecturer and curator, she helped create a new wave of feminist art that was meant to balance the scales and make it easier for women to make a name for themselves and be taken seriously in an artistic ecosystem that had almost always been exclusively a boys club. It is fair to say that without Nochlin, the little progress women have been able to make in the world of art would not have happened at all, and women would still be struggling to get recognition due to the biases that exist against them both in society as well as within the enclosed bubble of the art community.
However, all of that being said, it would be unfair to Nochlin’s legacy if one were to just focus on her feminist rhetoric. Even when not promoting female artists, Nochlin had a way of simply describing the quality of great works of art, with her sharp eye noticing all kinds of details that laymen and even other critics might have ended up missing. She also wrote quite a bit about left leaning politics which she had been involved in from a very young age.
Nochlin was born to a wealthy Jewish family in Brooklyn where she was raised, and from her youth her mother made sure that she was surrounded by artistic people so that she would develop a passion for creating. While Nochlin herself did not have much interest in creating art, her hunger for consuming it was certainly stoked which allowed her to learn about art and how it can be objectively good. From a very young age she sought artists that tried to push boundaries, whether through their artistic techniques and experiments or through creating art that would make people uneasy and force them to step outside their comfort zone.
Though she lived a full and long life, she will still be sorely missed. Her presence in the art community helped make it a little more legitimate, because she often brought artists from the fringe into the mainstream. She is the forebear for every boundary pushing art critic in the world today, and because of her art is always going to be just a little more inclusive than it used to be.
The plight of women is one that a lot of people can sympathize with, because they are at a disadvantage in so many fields. Art is one area where women are particularly at a disadvantage because of the fact that they are not taken as seriously as male artists. One could say that this is not based in fact, except for the fact that a recently conducted study that examined thousands of curated art galleries found that art made by women sold for significantly less money than art that had been made by men.
This study, conducted by the University of Luxembourg, examined well over a million sales that had been conducted at prestigious art galleries around the world, and found that this bias remained constant. In order to ensure the accuracy of the results of their research, the researchers presented art created by artificial intelligence to potential buyers and on different occasions told said buyers that the art was made by a man and a woman. When the buyers thought that the art had been created by a man they ended up offering a lot more money than when they thought it was made by a woman. The difference is quite significant, with women on average being offered a little over fifty percent of the price that men were offered.
Another interesting piece of data is that women, who make up over one sixth of the artist community overall, made up only one fifteenth of the total sales that the art community benefited from. This proves that female artists are always at a disadvantage, which can also be seen in blockbuster lots which is when a particularly famous artist sells his work, with the male pronoun here being used intentionally because blockbuster artists are almost always men.
An experiment conducted during this research yielded rather interesting results as well. Thousands of people were shown a series of artworks. They had to guess which of the art pieces were made by men and how good they were. The majority of people assumed that most of the good art was created by men, even though many of them had actually been made by women. This proves that the bias is universal, and is not just restricted to the elite art lover community that the art world is based around.
Women tend to face a lot of roadblocks in the art world, and even when they become accomplished artists they are going to have to deal with selling far less than men that might not even be producing art as good as theirs is. One reason that women tend to earn less money than men do in the art world is because of the fact that most of the buyers in the art world are men, and they tend to have a rather patriarchal idea of what constitutes as good art which leads to them not wanting to give women as much money as men.