What is contemporary art good for?

 Contemporary Art Industry People Democracy Andy Warhol

The title itself is already deceitful. Art doesn't necessarily have to have a purpose. Or does it? Let's assume it does. Let's assume it should have some utility, even if it's in our most intimate and personal universe, even if it's never shared with more than a handful of people, or even, more than one person. This is a very personal entry, with a very personal opinion.

The other day, while talking to someone over lunch, I heard an opinion about contemporary art that I hadn't heard in a long time: "Even I could do that!". I realized, after three books written with a lot of sweat and tears, that the difference lies in the tense of the verb "to do". Art isn't in museums and art galleries, in bookstores and movie theatres, in concert arenas. And it's never finished. Art is a verb, like love (or so say "Massive Attack"), it's an action, it's a "to do", not a "to be". That's why not everyone is an artist.

You can be an artist because you're immensely talented, because you want to be rich, because you work sleeplessly, because you're psychologically unstable, because you're intuitive or extremely rational, because you're angry or sad or incredibly happy. But you can never be an artist by standing still. An artist is someone who "does", someone who acts on a motive, be it beauty or disgust, death or a can of tomato soup. And by doing it, even if it wasn't his intention, he questions himself and those around him, the past, society in general or just a part of it.

Surely not everyone is wired the same way and not everyone questions the same things in the same way or with the same accuracy. Some people will be remembered forever, others will be forgotten, some might be rediscovered two hundred years from now, but most people will only be a flash in the pan.

All this preludes an opinion. Contemporary art has been, for the most part, marketed and industrialized. At the beginning of last century, Duchamp showed that you only need to change the position of a urinal for it to question you, like a painting. It's not because a work of art is produced by a genious that ends up filthy rich that we should, in an inverted burst of snobbery, despise it. It's just that the criteria has changed and art is no longer necessarily associated with "beauty".

Nowadays, art, like most human activities, is a search for boundaries, internal and external, visual and material, of time and space, using every technology available, from the old-fashioned paint brush to cutting-edge robots, from video intallments to beds with dirty sheets to... black squares on a black background.

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