BIDDINGTON'S ART GALLERY--Contemporary Paintings, Sculpture & Prints.
CREATIVE PROCESS--Artists' Studio Visits.
BIDDINGTON'S Content INDEX.
Evaluating Quality in Contemporary Art
Rules of Thumb--those pithy sound-bites of distilled experience--are useful decision-making tools:
Buy the rumor, sell the fact.
Bulls make money, bears make money, pigs get slaughtered.
Look at her mother.
In the complex world of contemporary art, such succinct words of wisdom are scarce. Objectively judging the art of ones own time is difficult, but deciding where hype ends and art begins is key to making a satisfying, intelligent art acquisition.
Happily, the extended Biddington's family includes people who not only make art, but who also think about the role and value of art in culture. An artist whose perspective I especially appreciate once suggested to me 3 simple rules for discerning whether or not an artwork has what it takes to stand the test of time. If you are considering a work of art and can't quite make a judgment about it, try using the PPP Test as a decision screen:
PAST PRESENT PERSONAL
A work of art must balance three elements :
Contemporary Art Test
PAST--Does it understand the past?
PRESENT--Does it elucidate the present?
PERSONAL--Does it reflect a personal vision?
An artwork too involved in the past tends to be derivative and insipidly decorative. Whatever the genre, it is not art but just a pretty picture.
An artwork ignorant of visual history tends to be naive in concept and/or realization. Amusing and childlike, this kind of art fails to make use of thousands of years of artistic creation. Idiot savantes are as rare in art as they are elsewhere.
An artwork too much of its time is immediately attractive but doesn't age well. Lacking a universal aspect that fine art embodies, its destiny is time-capsule nostalgia. Several over-hyped contemporary artists come to mind.
An artwork that does not vibrate with its time fails one of the primary missions of art: to be a predictive and interpretive tool of the culture. From Michelangelo, to Vermeer, to Picasso, to Warhol--all of these great artists resonated like tuning forks with the world around them.
An artwork too autobiographical becomes "dear diary". While paintings by the very self-involved or the insane may be vivid and telling, the chronicle of a personal pathology is not art.
An artwork with too little personal imprint lacks originality and vision. This failing deprives the viewer of one of the primary joys of art: to leave personal limitations behind and experience the world through another's inciteful, inventive persona.
Next time you walk into a gallery and can't quite connect with the art, try testing it for its PAST PRESENT PERSONAL balance. Odds are, you'll get a feel for the substance, intent and quality of the work a lot more quickly than usual.
PPP Test: Judging Quality in Contemporary Art
Art, Time and Technology
American vs. European Paintings
Jake Biddington's Art as Entertainment
Jake Biddington's Vetted Antiques & Art Shows
Jake Biddington's Patent Numbers as a Dating Tool
Jake Biddington's Hard Assets as Portfolio
Jake Biddington's Buying Fine Jewelry at Auction
Jake Biddington's Long Term Investing
Jake Biddington's Short-Term Investing
Jake Biddington's BENTLEY Art & Travel Series:
Rome 2002 Update
New York 2002 Update
Art Touring in the American Southwest
Baltimore, Maryland: Art Museums & Restaurants
Jake ABOUT THIS FEATURE
Jake Biddington works on The Street and is responsible for the
opinions & information in INVESTING. Young Jake, as he is known
within the virtual BIDDINGTON clan, views art, antiques and collectibles as
stores of value similar to stocks or foreign currencies. He sees these
items as another type of asset in which to place one's money. To that
end he keeps price histories and charting information on various
categories of objects. He views some items as long term investments,
others as items for a quick trade--and he even sees some as short
PEDIGREE & PROVENANCE--art words & terms defined.
JAKE BIDDINGTON'S INVESTING--financial advice on art collecting
Frankly, Jake's views incite considerable controversy within the
family: His mother, Claire Biddington Rosetti, the curator of
CREATIVE PROCESS, sees Jake's approach as part of the damaging
"commodification" of art wherein the buyers of art comprehend only
its financial value and are blind to its aesthetic and social
significance. Cousin Randolph, (writer of EXPERT CONSULTANCY),
sees the silver lining: For him, the informed expert wins because he
can use his knowledge and judgment to buy superbly interesting--
what Jake would call "off-the-run"-- pieces at relatively cheap prices,
because such items don't fit the narrow criteria for quick
Once the Bentley is safely garaged and he lounges
sipping his second martini, Uncle Frederick Fieldhouse Biddington
waxes inclusive: "Whatever gives collectors pleasure," he says.
BIDDINGTON'S BENTLEY--travel for the art connoisseur. MY ART--Art for kids.