My 18 year old son told my wife and I (both professional artists) that he doesn’t have any appreciation for painting or music (other than the lyrics of Bob Dylan). He said he loses interest in any painting after 5 seconds – it’s all derivative, it’s all been done before, he said. What’s the point?
I was taken aback by this statement, as you might imagine. But I thought more about it and wondered. In today’s world, with access to so much information, most of us have seen lots and lots of art. Through books, museums, TV, the internet, magazines, art shows – we’re flooded with every imaginable style, medium, technique, subject matter, etc. So maybe it is hard to find anything truly original. I suspect 100 years ago it was much easier to be amazed by new art since most people weren’t exposed to much of it in their lives.
But even though I’ve seen so much art, I can still look at a piece of work from an artist and enjoy it, sometimes get really excited or inspired by it. Why is this? There must be something other than originality in it that we’re attracted to, though it has to have some level of uniqueness, at least in our own experience. And there must be something that makes us artists want to produce more art, even when we know that what we make is not completely new. Sometimes we even celebrate the influence others have had on us.
So why do you still like to look at art, in spite of the thousands and thousands of images you’ve already seen? What keeps you going? What is the point, for you?
By the way, I let my son know that when I was his age, I didn’t have much appreciation for art and music either and that I suspected there was some seed that had been planted in him that would sprout later in his life around art. I’m not counting him out yet!