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Permamance



Thanks Jack, Richard et al (who's Al?) for an entertaining round.

Since we're getting into the larger field of art (DaVinci...): when I was
working for the Hirshhorn Museum (1969-71) Ken Nolan was asked to come in
and restore some of his early Acrylic "Target" paintings, which were flaking
off the canvas. The artists loved working with acrylics, but nobody knew
anything about them.

The manufacturers soon improved the properties of their products, and the
artists very quickly became aware of the techniques to be followed in
applying them. Otherwise nobody (more or less) would buy them anymore.

But that seems to be the real issue of this discussion. Is art a product? Is
it about the art world and the art market? Is the buying and selling and
collecting of it the business of the artist?

Does this bring up the relationship between "fine" art, commercial art,
graphic art, decorative art, and illustration? We obviously have several
artists on this list whose interest is in the act of creation, and are more
concerned with their perceptions and sensations during the making than the
durability of the object made. Perhaps the material result is the effluvia,
the garbage of the process, and if someone wants to be a garbage collector
they can, at their own risk. If the collectors want to get close to art, let
them start making their own!

I often feel that way myself. I'd rather spend my time making something I
like that lasts a minute than something I can't stand that lasts forever.
And sometimes, to be true to the inner vision, one must use fugitive
materials. To switch materials purely for the notion of permanence would be
a violation.

On the other hand, if you are talking about work made on commission, work
intended to preserve (bookbinding, perhaps?), work made for sale (art for
the market, art as investment), etc., one is responsible for producing a
product with a decent shelf life (1,000 years?). After all, these days the
artist is still the serf of the collector, and the Medici model is live and
kicking. Now the art investment corporation (institution) can require the
artist to make it to last as an investment, or the artist will be forced to
come groveling back to fix it.

(related digression... quite a few artists have made a career out of making
ephemeral art, particularly the lineage that runs from the futurists thru
the constructivists, dadaists, fluxus, etc.  Other artists have made
ephemeral art out of necessity, such as the abstract expressionists [like
Franz Kline's paintings on phone book pages].)

Sometimes I make things which are art and are intended to last for future
generations. Actually, most of the time. It's fairly easy, because my studio
is full of archival materials-- papers, adhesives, etc., so when I grab
something in a mad flurry of creative inspiration it just happens to be
archival.  But I started using ink jet printers (to return to the original
topic) in 1988 or 89, because they obviously gave a new degree of freedom to
computer imaging in art. I have always used black inkjets, usually on
handmade paper of my own specifications, and hand colored and gilded the
images. I suspected that black is the least fugitive ink. But now I plan to
get a color ink jet, since the wide carriage 720 dpi exists at reasonable
cost. I'm not too worried about permanence. It's too exciting a medium to
pass up the opportunity to explore. If nobody wants to buy the art, too bad.
I figure the images will last pretty long, since they're generally inside
books and not exposed to light or air. Anyway, I also spray them with
Krylon, for better or worse.

And now, if you really want permanence, you can get pigment inks to refill
your ink cartridges with, which are waterproof and colorfast. I saw a
beautiful example at the Dieu Donne paper art exhibit at Cooper Union, that
is hanging in conjunction with the recent conference they organized.

And besides, what's a conservator doing telling artists not to make art that
needs conservation? Are you trying to talk yourself (and future
conservators) out of a job? :>)

Richard
http://minsky.com


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