So, Jonathan Jones (UK Guardian art critic): the public shouldn’t be trusted to choose their art? He argued on a panel at the Big Art Debate at the Royal Society of Arts in London, that:
public art is never going to be great art so long as it has to conform to the prejudices, enthusiasms and assumptions of the majority.
Meaning: who cares what the public thinks, they are too stupid to “get” the art anyway. Bah with them! Let’s salute disturbing/aggressive/ politically motivated/vulgar/profane art because it’s a free society.
Bear with me as I write this next paragraph. It pains me, but I guess I should give the other side a fair shake:
While I appreciate art that pushes the limits, not everyone wants to see sculpture that might be aggressive/politically motivated/etc. in the middle of rush hour on their way to work. In public spaces, art is often an afterthought, a piece on the periphery, “that big blobby thing” that people walk by day in, day out and have never really stopped to look at (and how much of my paycheck taxes did the govt. spend on THAT?). People who want to be challenged by art want to savor it when they feel like it, not on a day they are rushing in late for work. They like to look at it at lunch when they wander through the MOMA or on the weekend at a gallery opening. They like to look a it when they’ve set aside time to do it. Perhaps publicly chosen art, by design or genre, should work in its surroundings, and enhance the space pursuant to all the environmental/social/political factors around it. Or perhaps it should just be PRETTY. Not something that people have to think about or try to figure out — like what statement, exactly, is that piece of art trying to make? People want to look up at a , smile/grin/say “cool,” and move on.
OK, I’m done with the “other side.” Stop all this nonsense. I wouldn’t appreciate this art at all. I suppose pretty art has its purpose, but if the public can’t handle a little mind stretch now and then, then we’re in a sad state of society. And that’s too bad.