Materialist Presumptions

1256
Erik ReeL, 1256, acrylic on linen

As opposed to abstract painting, Materialism brings with it a host of presumptions and pretensions about what art is and should be, how it should be valued and thought about; values that have been echoed by previous cultures , such as Imperial Rome. These assumptions include [ each a book unto itself]:

The primacy of rendering or producing an accurate representation of an external physical reality with a work of art. For non-materialists, it is possible to question even the possibility of such a rendering.

Art as 3D rendering, courtesy Vatican images and wikipedia
Art as 3D rendering, courtesy Vatican images and wikipedia

An obsession with the medium or material from which a work of art is made, even going so far as to use the medium as a primary category for classifying, and judging, a work of art;

A close corollary to this is the pretense that some work is more important solely because its medium is unprecedented or new;

An emphasis on the thing-ness of a work of art as opposed to its non-material aspects;

A corollary rise in the predominance of sculptural, three-dimensionhal, physical, and spatial forms of art practice over two-dimensional and imaginative forms., including a de-valuation of two-dimensional forms if they insist in persisting only within two dimensions;

An obsession with the monetary value of the work of art, that is, its exchange value for other material goods, as opposed to its cultural value;

An emphasis on art as public display as public spectacle rather than more personal, private, contemplative viewing modalities. This includes the spectacle surrounding the work of art, its physical context, rather than the direct personal experience of the work without distraction.

Materialism in the streets, U.S. Army M1 tanks in Tall Afar, Iraq,  3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon, U.S. Air Force. (Released)
Materialism in the streets, U.S. Army M1 tanks in Tall Afar, Iraq, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon, U.S. Air Force. (Released)

It is no accident that both Rome and the late 20th century United States witnessed an ascendency of sculptural and three-dimensional forms, including the installation within an entire “space”, performative modes emphasizing spectacle or extreme and sensational “realism”, engineering and the corollary means to wage war and dominate the material world, These are all part of the same materialistic orientation. They go together.

Perhaps an artist living in such a culture should choose to not re-inforce such a set of values.

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