Monday, June 27, 2011

A Few Words about the Barebrush Experiment

As many readers of this blog know, I am an artist, entrepreneur and anthropologist.

I began Barebrush as a sort of experiment to see if I could discern any consistent threads in the way diverse curators think about and select art. With the myriad of styles and approaches current in today's art world, I constructed an anthropological model to see for myself if any dominant approaches or preferences emerged.

I am pleased to report that they have. No matter whether the work is super-realist or runs the gamut from impressionist to abstract, professional art curators, curators who know the technical difficulties of many media, look for three major accomplishments from the artworks they review:

Skill: Skill is evidence that the artist exercised care and judgment appropriate to the artwork. Non-artists tend to think of skill primarily in terms of rendering, but curators are aware of the related skills required to pick a subject point-of-view of interest to the art viewer. There is also significant skill required to place the subject in space. In two-dimensional art this is called “placement on the page” even if it is a painting or a mural. In three-dimensional art, the challenge is placement in space in such a way as to compel viewers to want to see the work from all sides and to reward them for doing so. My observation has been that even in sketchy, gesture drawings and paintings, and especially in more rendered work, curators look for evidence of thought and consideration accompanied by technical mastery and a unified presentation. Unified presentation could also be considered mastery of style, but since mastery of style involves mastery as such, for purpose of clarity, style can be considered an aspect of skill.
Emotion: Curators universally love looking at art. The ability of a visual artist to evoke emotion is highly prized. Just like the rest of us, they love to be surprised, delighted, touched by tenderness, impressed by dignity. And it seemed to me that as art professionals, they would rather be goaded into anger than to feel nothing about an artwork.
Significance: The artwork necessarily has significance to the artist, as is self-evident by the fact of its very existence. Curators seem to look for artworks which “speak” to them about the things they care about. This is the reason why we ask each curator to submit a personal statement in order to help the artist understand at least something of what the curator is about.
As year number five draws to a close, the process continues. Barebrush is growing. We are working on the next big upgrade which will introduce direct selling by the artists on the Barebrush website. My thanks to all the curators and the artists who together have made Barebrush the website to find excellence in contemporary art.