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Chocolate, my brother assures me, is one of the five food groups. Hence essential for artists, but for art?
Do you remember the term “chocolate box” referring to art or photography? It usually referred to landscapes of Swiss mountains and lakes – imagine Heidi or The Sound of Music – or sentimental scenes of children. Wikipedia names Renoir as chocolate box because of his subject matter. It is a negative label, hinting at cloying sweetness or prettiness. Art can be that (depends on the viewer). For me, on its own, it’s not enough.
On the other hand, art can also be harsh and raw as in early works of Damien Hirst (again, depends on the viewer). For this, imagine a rotting cow’s head. Is that enough to make it art? It was certainly a great start to financially successful career.
Of course this is oversimplifying things – it is a holiday weekend! However, contemporary art is less likely to be simply “chocolate box” unless it is a satirical piece. If we are unsure while looking at an art work, I think it helps to know a bit more. What is the artist’s vision? What new insights are they offering us? If it feels uncomfortable to view, are they using shock tactics to alter our understanding or perspective? We don’t have to buy it after all. (Buying art, pricing and value are issues for later discussion).
So, is there a place for the chocolate box, even just as a retreat from the raw reality of a rotting cow’s head? What do you think?
(Would you mind passing those chocolates around please)?
- Damien Hirst Plastic Skull: Yours for $58K (newser.com)