When I was in Scotland last fall, I visited the National Gallery there, as I do whenever I travel to a new country, (honestly, the galleries are practically THE reason I visit some places) and realized that I had a deeper love of certain types of landscapes. I mean, I’ve always liked certain landscapes, but it was never my thing. Truth be told, I actually liked the paintings more than I did the actual views of the Scottish Highlands!
I’m kicking myself for not writing down the name of a particular piece, and painter that was exhibited -which I was sure was Edwin Landseer, but is not…
Landseer’s ‘The Monarch of the Glen’ is indeed exhibited there; (it is one of the preeminent images of Scotland, after all) and because the painting I can’t remember is of that era, and quite similar in style, I mistakenly thought it was his. Sadly, no. I’ll keep looking.
So, on to Landseer -which is where I’m trying to get to with this post, if I can ever manage it. He was, and still is, known as a painter of animals, and so, a lot of his stuff has been appropriated by animal lovers, who, it seems, just want a nice picture of a cat. ’Nothing too threatening, either.’ Too bad. Look at the colours! The technique! The sense of humour! The fatalistic irony! Plus, he seems to have been influenced quite a bit by Turner, which is always a good thing in my books.
A couple of nights ago, I was talking to my artist/teacher/friend John Scott (pictured above) on the phone, and the gist of all of this shit that I’ve been babbling about here, was part of the conversation. At one point, I started feeling a little anxiety over expressing an opinion of liking something that was enjoyed by millions for (what I, as a slightly knowledgeable art snob should regard as) all the wrong reasons.
Then I caught myself. What the fuck is wrong with me? Why the hell should I give a shit about whether someone likes, or dislikes what I think about certain types of art? I was inadvertently wedging myself into a kind of art world Mexican stand-off!’ “The first hombre who dares have an opinion, gets blasted to kingdom come!”
Fuck that! I’ve got an opinion. I shouldn’t be afraid to express it. In fact, I’ve even got opinions about opinions. Express yours. Don’t get sucked into the elitist bullshit -even though the temptation is great, of thinking that because you don’t know a lot about art, you shouldn’t be able say you like, or dislike something purely for reasons that are your own. I like (and I don’t know why) Gerhard Richter, but I also like Geo. Herriman’s Krazy Kat!
Oh, and for what it’s worth, the last thing that John would ever do would be to stick up his nose about whether one liked something or not. His whole purpose in life seems to be getting people interested in art. Not AN art, but THE art.