Art. Why does it matter?

Hand stencil from a limestone cave on Sulawesi, an Indonesian island east of Borneo. Dated to a minimum age of 39,000 years ago, this may be Earth’s oldest known cave art.

Two imprints of two hands separated by 40,000 years. One on a limestone cave wall, produced by a ground pigment that was blown over the hand, leaving an image of a slender arm and long outstretched, reaching fingers. The other on a canvas, the hand dipped in paint and pressed onto the surface, layered with myriad drips, splatters and throws of paint by Jackson Pollock (1912-1956).

What is the tie that binds?

It is the compulsion to create an image, a form, that embodies this message: “I am. I live. This is me.”
Poignancy lies heavy, for captured in the same instant of these vigorous salutes to life, is the inescapable fact of individual mortality. Yet, in these two salutes to life, I am united with each. This ‘collapsing of time’ evokes a sense of continuity of life that far exceeds the limits of my own oh-so-short time here.

These two striking examples of artistic self-expression, startlingly separated in space and time, share at their core a fundamental import. They speak to me now, today. They are, in a way, an ode to life. At its core, the urge to create is the urge to live, the desire for life.

Whether we create, or enjoy that which is created by another; whether an artwork serves personally, or publicly, fulfilling civic or political functions —  the larger significance of art, of the Arts, is immeasurable. It serves culturally and historically, identifying certain facts in terms of place and time. It serves a sense of humanity, perhaps aiding to formulate a vision of the continuity of humanity. And on occasion, it might allow for an easier vision of our commonalities versus our serious temporal divides and differences. Yes. Art matters. It imparts dignity, value and hope to the meaning of this human experience and suggests a profound significance beyond the limits of oneself.

—Jules Cavanaugh


© 2016 I Require Art Studios, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Jackson Pollock (1912-1956): (detail) "Number 1A, 1948," 1948. Oil and enamel paint on canvas, after conservation. © Pollock-Krasner Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Image Courtesy MoMA

Jackson Pollock (1912-1956): (detail) “Number 1A, 1948,” 1948. Oil and enamel paint on canvas, after conservation. © Pollock-Krasner Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Image Courtesy MoMA

Minoan: Spring Fresco (detail, Swallows), ca. 1650 BCE. From Room Delta 2, Akrotiri, Thera, Greece.

Minoan: Spring Fresco (detail, Swallows), ca. 1650 BCE. From Room Delta 2, Akrotiri, Thera, Greece.

Palace at Knossos, Minoan, Dolphin Fresco, c. 1500 BC. Heraklion Archaeological Museum in Heraklion, Crete.

Palace at Knossos, Minoan, Dolphin Fresco, c. 1500 BC. Heraklion Archaeological Museum in Heraklion, Crete.

Paul Gauguin, (French, Post-Impressionism, 1848- May 8, 1903): Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? (D'ou Venons Nous / Que Sommes Nous / Où Allons Nous), 1897-1898. Created in Punaauia, French Polynesia. Oil on canvas, 54-3/4 x 147-1/2 inches (139.1 x 374.6 cm). Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Paul Gauguin, (French, Post-Impressionism, 1848- May 8, 1903): Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? (D’ou Venons Nous / Que Sommes Nous / Où Allons Nous), 1897-1898. Created in Punaauia, French Polynesia. Oil on canvas, 54-3/4 x 147-1/2 inches (139.1 x 374.6 cm). Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, Cubism, 1881–1973): Guernica, 1937. Oil on canvas, 349 x 776 cm (137.4 × 305.5 inches), Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid. © Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York © This artwork may be protected by copyright. It is posted on the site in accordance with fair use principles.

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, Cubism, 1881–1973): Guernica, 1937. Oil on canvas, 349 x 776 cm (137.4 × 305.5 inches), Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid. © Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York © This artwork may be protected by copyright. It is posted on the site in accordance with fair use principles.

Jackson Pollock (American, Abstract Expressionism, 1912-1956): (detail) “Number 1A, 1948,” 1948. Oil and enamel paint on canvas, after conservation. © Pollock-Krasner Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Image Courtesy MoMA

Jackson Pollock (American, Abstract Expressionism, 1912-1956): “Number 1A, 1948,” 1948. Oil and enamel paint on canvas, after conservation. © Pollock-Krasner Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Image Courtesy MoMA.

Richard Serra (American; Minimalism, Process Art; b. 1939): The Matter of Time, 2005. Installation of seven sculptures, weatherproof steel. Varying dimensions: length of over 430 feet, resides in a 32,000 square foot gallery. Guggenheim Bilbao Museoa. © Richard Serra/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York © This artwork may be protected by copyright. It is posted on the site in accordance with fair use principles.

Richard Serra (American; Minimalism, Process Art; b. 1939): The Matter of Time, 2005. Installation of seven sculptures, weatherproof steel. Varying dimensions: length of over 430 feet, resides in a 32,000 square foot gallery. Guggenheim Bilbao Museoa. © Richard Serra/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York © This artwork may be protected by copyright. It is posted on the site in accordance with fair use principles.

James Turrell (American; Contemporary, Post-Minimalism, Light and Space, Installation; b. 1943): Breathing Light, 2013. LED light into space. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California, USA. © James Turrell. Photo © Florian Holzherr. © This artwork may be protected by copyright. It is posted on the site in accordance with fair use principles.

James Turrell (American; Contemporary, Post-Minimalism, Light and Space, Installation; b. 1943): Breathing Light, 2013. LED light into space. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California, USA. © James Turrell. Photo © Florian Holzherr. © This artwork may be protected by copyright. It is posted on the site in accordance with fair use principles.

 

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Again, my thanks Ankur, for sharing this piece on http://www.earlyworksartgallery.com, an admirable site which I will visit regularly.

Best,

Jules Cavanaugh
IRequireArt.com
I Require Art Studios, LLC

Thank you, Ankur, for sharing this piece on http://www.earlyworksartgallery.com, an admirable site which I will visit regularly.

It is an honor to meet you. I viewed the impressive trailer to your notable and lauded documentary, “Road to Tibet,” and look forward to seeing the film — right away — in its entirety. Bravo for your exceptional, thought provoking and significant work. Art that makes a difference… gets no better than that.

I look forward to a long and fruitful association with you.

Best,

Jules Cavanaugh
IRequireArt.com
I Require Art Studios, LLC

Your article made me think. I want to share it with the e-magazine I run in the online art gallery I curate called http://www.warlyworksartgallery.com
I write various articles during the week and shall mention the link to this article of yours on Friday, this week.
Hope to have a long association with you!

I am most fond of 6 fingere petroglyphs –to me the message is We are mutants all

Thank you, Allison.

Hope you will subscribe to the blog…

Best from Jules and the Require Art™ team!

It should now work, Mary Lynn. Give it a try… thank you for subscribing to the I Require Art Blog!

All the best,

Jules and the I Require Art™ team

Diane,

Delighted! Please do so.

I invite you to direct them to each of the I Require Art platforms for regular doses of artworks throughout history. On our Facebook ‘I Require Art’ page, the accompanying artwork posts’ text often “connects the dots” with a brief mention of the artist’s “influence cloud” and art historical relevance. Often, the text includes current major art exhibitions and art references to relevant articles, quotes from artists, art historians, art reviewers.

Instagram is ideal for their posting anything at all that interests them in the arts, including their own artworks — Note: have them add #IRequireArt to their Instagram posts.

Of course, my thoughts can be found here at the I Require Art blog.

I Require Art social media:
IRequireArt.com/blog
twitter.com/IRequireArt
pinterest.com/i_require_art/
instagram.com/irequireart/

All the best to you and your students,

Jules Cavanaugh
Creator / Curator, I Require Art™

May I reprint your article to share with my high school visual arts students?

The oldest cave art is in Persia, goes back to 7-8 ooo years ago!

What a beautiful post. Takes my Breath away a little, actually.

Would love to join, but…..Your subscribe button isn’t working for me.

[…] Artists down the generations – practicing all modes, and all the people since the earliest times who have appreciated art are the most resounding response to the question – why does art matter? In art we have something that cannot be priced, is invaluable, and yet, sold for thousands and millions of dollars. The understanding of art can be personal and the value one person puts on a piece of art may not be the worth that another person thinks that same artwork is. Therefore, much of art is subjective. But there are also some universal parameters that distinguish great art from the ordinary. Jules Cavanaugh, an art critic and blogger on art, asks about art, “What is the tie that binds? It is the compulsion to create an image, a form, that embodies this message: “I am. I live. This is me.” Poignancy lies heavy, for captured in the same instant of these vigorous salutes to life, is the inescapable fact of individual mortality. Yet, in these two salutes to life, I am united with each. This ‘collapsing of time’ evokes a sense of continuity of life that far exceeds the limits of my own oh-so-short time here. In a beautifully written piece Cavanaugh makes an impassioned case for the importance of art – both generally and personally, complete with illustrations and examples. Let this be the article of the day for us on the category of art history. http://www.irequireart.com/blog/?p=1053 […]