It’s great that there are so many blogs out there dedicated to visual art. Some of them have thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of followers. It goes to show that there is an appetite for art out there which is hugely encouraging.
However, I can’t help but feel that these blogs and the constant sharing and reposting of images and videos of work is damaging the integrity of our visual arts. The content is often just so vacuous.
Artwork identified as being worthy of sharing is not selected because of its value as an intellectually stimulating piece of work that comments on our existence, the development of society, politics, war, or other such poignant matters. Work is selected because it is pretty, aesthetically pleasing, well executed, and most importantly non-offensive.
Many blogs even state outright that they do not accept challenging content, as exemplified by this snippet taken from Colossal’s submission guidelines:
If your project involves sex, violence or particularly sensitive topics it regrettably may not be appropriate at this time. Sorry!
Whilst I agree that there is room for technical ability to be applauded we should encourage these skills to be used in more thought provoking ways and not simply celebrate a work because it took 100 hours to draw.
Yes your very detailed portrait of a person drawn over an ordnance survey map looks lovely and is exquisitely executed but does it actually communicate anything at all?
It’s great that you can paint a detailed landscape in the style of old masters on the back of a postage stamp but does this tell us anything other than you have a keen eye and very fine paint brush?
Much of the work I see churned out across these blogs is nothing more than curiosity or decoration. Once one blog shares an artist’s work you can rest assured that you’ll see exactly the same work pop up on every other visual art blog online within a week. God forbid those bloggers miss a trick and let their peers post all the most popular content and get all of the page views.
These blogs are the visual equivalent to Radio 1’s daytime radio shows repetitively pumping out manufactured mind-numbing pop music. These pop singers (most of them at least) have the technical ability to deliver a song just like these artists have the technical ability to produce an accurate drawing, painting or sculpture. But similarly they’re all pretty vacuous and lacking in any real depth.
Viewers online are lured in with superlative headlines that would sound more at home in Heat magazine than Art Review:
This Painting Will Blow Your Mind When You Find Out What It Actually Is
The Tiny Landscapes This Artist Paints On Snacks Are Just Too Good To Eat
9 Unbelievable Works of Art Created With Just Some Ballpoint Pens
I get that it’s subjective, but as audiences why have we come to accept so little from the visual art we’re presented with. Surely a painting or drawing is not by default “a work of art”? Doesn’t it have to communicate something beyond its execution or function?
I see these images featured on various blogs making their way into galleries in real life. Not surprisingly really as galleries main priorities are visitor/customer numbers. If a blog post featuring some drawings has been shared 50,000 times then it must be popular and therefor a draw for gallery-goers. But this waters down the experience for those of us looking for something more than a well-executed technical exercise in drawing, painting or whatever other medium the artist has selected to use.
Art should challenge us, question us, make us think!