Thursday, June 25, 2009
Opinions (we all have them)
When I was in art school, I was the little dictator of my tenement apartment. On the day my room-mate and I moved in, I said to her, "I'm in art school and I'm very sensitive to my environment, so I will make the decisions about what the non-private space looks like." Well, I may not have said that exactly, but I was quite firm about being the judge and jury of all things visual outside my poor room-mate's bedroom door. She seemed fine with it.
I remember I had decided this had to be announced for she had put two owls made out of coconut shells up on a shelf in the living room. They were hideous to my eyes. It was plainly obvious to me that she had not a shred of taste and changes must be made. How she stood my attitude is still beyond me. But then again, in my home, right now, I am the final arbiter of all the public space. When Dick put out a picnic table on the deck today and I came out to move the benches around, he said something to that effect, that matters such as these were in my hands. Where to put up a painting or even something as trivial as a laundry basket, well, the ultimate verdict is up to me, the little Hitler of all things aesthetic.
I am absolutely assured of my taste and I don't care if anyone disagrees with me. I feel I should be ashamed of this position, but I'm not. If someone wants my opinion, I'll give it freely, and I don't hedge for a second. Now, if it's something they've made or it's in their own home, I probably won't, for I think it's none of my business. I will usually only offer my bewilderment, for why should they even care what I think? Whatever you like is fine with me. Just don't put it in my house or try to sell it to me.
When I used to teach embroidery classes, I would always have the women (no, there were never men) choose their own colors. It was the single hardest thing they would learn to do in the class, and it always shocked me. Women who apparently could get up in the morning and pick out their own clothes were often reduced to paralysis when presented with an "artistic" choice. So, I would ask them how they picked their clothes, or their sofas, or the colors of the walls in their homes. I assumed (correctly) that not many would have used a decorator (but so many would if they could afford it, I'm sure). The answer was always, "because I like it", and so, I'd say that art was nothing more than that. Sorry to all those art-schooled of you out there, but in the end, it does come down to that.
The old saw "I don't know anything but I know what I like" is not much different than the schooled version, which might be "I do know something and I know what I like."
It's interesting when people have to collaborate on things visual (or anything else for that matter). Then their tastes and their reasoning has to be examined, and often we don't have any reasons besides those above. However, I often do, but I sometimes have to dig deep to find it.
Dick's trying to come up with a logo for Randome (link at the right) and it's pretty interesting seeing what the designer comes up with, how I react, how he reacts, and how another party reacts. It's all different, and sometimes we are all absolutely right. And at that point, it does come down to taste.
And of course, I am also thinking of perfume. Luca Turin wore Parfums de Nicolais' New York for ten years and he waxes poetic about it. To him, it is one of the perfect scents. I tried some the other day. It didn't offend me. I didn't need to scrub. But, I just did not like it, it did nothing for me, and I'll never wear it again. That's just taste. Nothing more. Nothing less.
I would imagine some people would chastise themselves and think, "Oh, I haven't got any taste!" I don't know why, but I have never done that to myself, and I'm glad for that, even if it does makes me a bit of a jerk.
Painting note: Tamara de Lempicka "Dr. Boucard" 1929
The people of de Lempicka's portraits all look so strong-willed to me. I found it funny that on the site (linked above), "Women in Art History", it says of her "as a child, Tamara was known as self-willed and domineering." I'm guessing that a male artist wouldn't have this in his bio.