Panorama view of exhibition in Jedlitschka Gallery, Zurich.

Panorama view of exhibition in Jedlitschka Gallery, Zurich.

16 October 2017

Dr Great Art Podcast Episode 23: Genius in Art

The new Dr Great Art Podcast! Episode 23: Genius in Art! The concept of "genius" in art has rightly been criticized for its sexism, exaggeration and more. However, it is possible to retain its useful aspects by redefining it as the level of achieved pervasiveness of an artist's metaphor(m).
http://drgreatart.libsyn.com/episode-23-genius-in-art #arthistory


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This is the script (not a transcript, as I change elements when recording).

Dr Great Art Podcast 23



Genius in Art

Hi this is Mark Staff Brandl, with the 23rd "Dr Great Art" brief podcast. I hope you enjoy it and come back for each and every one.

Today my Artecdote is a discussion of a new version of the old notion of "genius" in art.

What about genius? In the last few decades, there has been a justified critique of stodgy notions of the term genius. The 2009 Encyclopedia of Feminist Literary Theory (edited by Elizabeth Kowaleski-Wallace) asserts that the "concept [of genius] is tied to gender and power in ways that cause problems for women." Furthermore, stating that "Romantic, Victorian and Modernist artists claimed that only 'geniuses' produced 'great art’ and that only a man could be a 'genius.' However, in practice they defined 'great art' in contrast with the art of women and others who were labeled 'inferior.'"

This is indeed true. Artists presenting themselves as geniuses can even be practicing purposeful subterfuge. Michelangelo destroyed notes and sketches, as suggested by Vasari, to further public opinion that he was a direct, divinely inspired (not slowly maturing) genius.

However, even if 'genius' makes us squirm, causing many to deny it, deconstruct it, or explain it away, the term still has much truth in it, IF we examine it closely, even to the point of redefinition. In fact, we can contribute a new concept of "genius," based on the pervasive use of ones metaphor(m). That is what I will do in this podcast.

As I have written in a previous articles and my PhD dissertation, I find most art, but particularly paintings and novels to be quintessentially antithetical. They incorporate, use and criticize. They have achieved a condition of being perpetually "genres undermined." Painting and the novel are artistic disciplines and forms which have a history of sabotaging themselves. They are in a constant state of crisis. This makes them fertile ground for the application of my metaphor(m) theory and for testing the broadness of the extended text concept. I have stated this in the odd passive construction so common to art critics, speaking of what "painting" or "the novel" does, when clearly that is a metonymy --- it is painters and authors who do things, not any generalized abstractions like "painting." What the creators do then exists embodied in paintings and novels. Painters and novelists are deeply involved in a dialogue with and against the past.

What is this "agon"? It is a concept borrowed from Harold Bloom, yet one I have radically adapted. Let me quote Bloom from Agon: Towards a Theory of Revisionism:

"...I cite again the Emersonian difference, which is to say, the American difference: a diachronic rhetoric, set not only against past tropes, as in Nietzsche, but against the pastness of trope itself, and so against the limitations of traditional rhetoric."

I would purport that in our period this is the condition of the awake perceiver everywhere. Bloom's insight is deep, and it is Emersonian, but by no means is this limited to one country, to the US, as he presumes.

The pastness of trope must be wrestled with and overcome. Each artist must struggle with his or her daemon, who is the angel, who is the attendant spirit (from Latin, genius), perhaps even genie: the precursor, god (small 'g') and self. Space is fought for and won with hard work and thought, not avoided with new toys incorporating dead ideas. This ineffable spar is the only way to occupy the ground of the other, finally creating one's own space. What one finds is ones metaphor(m).

A reminder of what my "metaphor(m)" concept is.

Metaphor(m) is a theory of trope in visual art, which I call "metaphor(m)" or "central trope." My thesis is that the formal, technical and stylistic aspects of creators' approaches concretely manifest content in culturally and historically antithetical ways through a particular trope, what we commonly call a "metaphor." Creators are granted agency. Artists seek to discover and construct a central trope of form in a dialectical, even dialogical, circle of testing and understanding. This process allows them to express their desires, both those willed and those revealed by the trope. The term metaphor(m) (spell) is a pun; it describes the core of the theory --- that such tropes are both metaphoric and meta-formal. For creators, artistic value is grounded in form, the way a work is made and its technical aspects. Yet, turning Formalism on its head, these attributes in themselves are significant due to their meta-properties as conceptual tools and modus operandi involving context, tropaic content and cultural struggle. My theory is grounded in scholarship on conceptual metaphor.

It can be perceived that the pervasive use of metaphor(m) is the test of the truly forceful creator. In this, we can contribute a new concept of "genius." Rather than being seen as some kind of transcendentally inspired originality, genius can be correlated with the attainment of enveloping discernment, through the transformational power of the metaphor(m).

Genius becomes the inspiration to all-pervasiveness, infusing the insight ("genie") of central trope in the entire thinking-experiential process.

In a similar vein of reasoning, "pervasiveness" replaces the inadequate concept of "unity." The now thread-worn discussions of "unity in diversity" and the like were never sufficient, especially after Modernism, for the lived experience of what artists attempt in the composition of artworks. The idea of "unity" connotes something feeble, almost expended, when seen as a goal and as it is often taught in art schools, primarily in Bauhaus-derived explanations of relational balancing. In the place of such entropy, the theory of central trope suggests a substitution: "comprehensiveness," the attempted-for omnipresence of one's guiding vision, a dynamic fullness.

For example, it seems evident that Jan van Eyck's detailed rendering is not merely a new formal discovery used for its novelty alone. His style uses the dynamism of seeming opposition to energize an integrated vision of life. His realism serves to draw in viewers, suggest transcendence, and justify the individuality of persons and objects with the essence of God. His light is physical, yet does not dissolve; rather, it crystallizes visible reality, being in no way mysterious or overwhelming as in the medieval art before him. Yet the spiritual essence of God would appear to have little to do with a powerfully material world. In this, and other elements, we see that Jan van Eyck is a highly complex painter, in whose work many seemingly contradictory elements are reconciled. His works offers a form of accord far more sophisticated than any notion of unity --- and this long before Modernism.

I will not deeply analyze his metaphor(m) at this point, but it revolves around his use of light and its revelation of detail as a materializing force to embrace and overcome contradiction in what he saw as theological truths and the material world. This conviction suffuses and harmonizes his work: thorough pervasiveness: light, color, composition, surface, etc.

The search for this pervasiveness, tropaic omnipresence, explains a prime form of development and growth in artists. The discovery of one's own metaphor(m) may come in a blinding flash or in gradual steps, but learning to apply it is always a matter of slow work and hard-won experience. Some creators only progress to certain points in this maturational process, winning a few rounds but leaving off the end of the match.

Thereby, they may even achieve importance, but not true strength in the Bloomian sense. The novels of James Joyce can be studied as a step-by-step realization of an ever more pervasive metaphor(m), one carried to an apex seldom reached in the history of literature or art. In an ideally consummated approach, the central trope would inhabit each and every decision by a creator. This is the never-ending lustre of the praxis of artistic maturation.

As an addendum, here is an excerpt from Eugene Delacroix's diary from Tuesday, February 19th, 1850, which offers a unique insight into 'genius,' one which is thoroughly applicable to our situation in art at the moment in Postmodernism: "The beautiful is found only once in a given period. So much the worse for geniuses who arrive after that moment. In periods of decadence, the only chance to survive is for very independent geniuses. They cannot bring their public back to the good taste of former times because it would be understood by no one; but there are lightning flashes in their work which show what they would have been in the time of simplicity. The mediocrity in those long centuries that forget the beautiful is far duller, even, than during the periods when it seems as if everybody could benefit by that taste for the simple and the true that is in the air. At such times dull artists set themselves to exaggerate the unconscious lapses of more gifted artists, which gives them the special platitude called 'turgidness' or else they go in for a superannuated imitation of the beauties of the good period, which gives the last word insipidity. They go back even further in time. They assume the naiveté of the artists who preceded the great periods. They affect a contempt for that perfection which is the natural goal of all the arts."

Thus, "genius" still has a place, freed of sexism and exaggeration. It is a result of artistic maturation and work, resulting in the pervasiveness of one's central trope, one's major meta-formal insight, throughout all aspects of one's work.

Genius in Art!

Thanks for listening. Podcast number 23. If you wish to hear more cool, exciting and hopefully inspiring stuff about art history and art, come back for more. Also I, Dr Mark Staff Brandl, artist and art historian, am available for live custom Performance-Lectures. In English und auf Deutsch.

I take viewers inside visual art and art history. Entertainingly, yet educationally and aesthetically, I analyze, underline, and discuss the reasons why a work of art is remarkable, or I go through entire eras, or indeed through the entirety of art history, or look at your desired theme through the lens of art history. The lectures often take place with painted background screens and even in my painting-installations.

Some recent ones were on the entire history of Postmodernist Art from 1979 through today, on Metaphor(m) in Art History, on Mongrel Art, and on Women in Art. Once again, I'd like to thank Chloe Orwell, Brad Elvis, and the rock band the Handcuffs for composing, performing and recording my theme song, "Shut Up and Paint," a tiny portion of which begins and ends every Dr Great Art Podcast.

You can find or contact me at

www.drgreatart.com/

book me at www.mirjamhadorn.com

or find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, all as Dr Great Art.

28 September 2017

Dr Great Art Episode 22: Representationalism in Art


Dr Great Art podcast. Episode 22: Representationalism in Art
What constitutes representation in a work of art? The representational nature of visual art is one of its most important, fruitful, and intriguing elements --- yet for very particular reasons.

http://drgreatart.libsyn.com/episode-22-representationalism-in-art

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This is the script (not a transcript, as I change elements when recording).

Dr Great Art Podcast 22





Representationalism in Art

Hi this is Mark Staff Brandl, with the 22nd "Dr Great Art" brief podcast. I hope you enjoy it and come back for each and every one.

Today my Artecdote is a discussion of the meaning of the technique of making images that somehow look like, visually resemble, other things. You know, making pictures of things. In short, I am thinking about what representation represents.

What constitutes representation in a work of art? Discussions of this usually begin with the tale of the ancient Greek painter able to create a work so convincing that birds would attempt to eat the depicted grapes; they also include a discourse on the original Greek word mimesis, linking it to imitation. Because our terms for representation commonly stem from this, we can be led into certain areas of thought. But none of the available translations are fully accurate, I feel, so I shall bypass this rather than be bogged down by obtuse argument.

There are arts that embrace representation and those that do not. The intrinsically representational arts are literature (including poetry, prose, and drama), the visual arts (including painting, sculpture, photography, and film), and, of course, other arts close to or between these areas, such as performance, comics/sequential art, mixed media, and intermedia. That favorite metaphor for abstract painters, music, is an example of an art which resists representation.

The representational nature of visual art is one of its most important, fruitful, and intriguing elements --- yet for very particular reasons. It is amusing that we always speak as if illusion were truly possible in art. An argument can be made that this deception seldom, perhaps never, genuinely occurs. We never mistake art for reality. The disinterestedness of the aesthetic attitude, as philosophers say, and our basic sanity usually disallows this. To aesthetically perceive anything is in fact not to be "fooled" by pretence. We neither bump our noses trying to walk into Richard Estes paintings, nor rush about attempting to save the victim of a Hitchcock movie from harm.

The viewer is not over-distanced, of course: I might get tears at a tragedy, and frequently an excellent painting sends chills of excitement up my spine. Response to a work of art is in fact multilayered and complex. Art demands a synchronous, contrary, almost oscillating attention. I view a work both entranced and consciously considering the skill of the image or artifice. As an example, trompe l'oeil, "fool-the-eye" painting, is ironically the opposite of its supposed intent. Our whole attention is riveted by the accomplishment of the artifice, which gives us the thrill. It in no way deceives us. If trompe l'oeil wished to really trick us, the only successful pieces would be counterfeit money.
On the other hand, there is always the danger that simple emotional escapism can preclude moral involvement and analysis of larger context; Bertolt Brecht shared this concern, as is evidenced in his attacks on theatrical illusion.

What makes an image a representation of something? How is it a "picture?" Just because the artist intended --- or we presume that he/she did --- a work to be a representation of something, is it? Because the artist looked at a tree while in the act of painting is that why the piece then bears the image of a tree? If I notice that a picture reminds me visually of a human's face, is it a portrait? These points may be of interest in the process of the artist, but it is obviously untrue to ascribe to any of them the essence, or interest, of representation itself. Furthermore, I am not talking about "figurative" art, genre, or simple naturalism. Representation, to me, to be a source of significance in art, must go beyond that; we must consider the inclusion of history, meaning, as well as our abilities and inabilities to recognize it. Indeed, much abstraction is intriguing at least partially due to its evasion of, dispute with, circulation around representation. NOT representing something disturbs many, especially when it approached decorativeness --- which I feel is an incorrect response, but the subject for another podcast.

There is a famous scientific anecdote of chimpanzees able to recognize photos of themselves, yet certain humans who had never previously seen photographs being unable to do so. Even so-called primitive or traditional societies have highly sophisticated systems of representation that filter their vision. The convoluted modern "naive" theory is that if an image somehow resembles a photograph of a certain object ---  discounting certain aspects of photographic vision (such as out-of-focus) --- then it is a representation of that object. This points, through its obvious simple-mindedness, verging on illogicality, elsewhere.

My assertion is that representation is largely a matter of social convention. And this can and is and should be used by artists when creating representational works.
As symbol shades into "picture" and is culturally dependent, I can only see representation fully realized and most pregnant with meaning, as concretized belief. By this I mean something near ideology, although I hesitate to use that buzzword that describes many things now destroying our societies. I suppose I mean in some ways Weltanschauung ("world-looking-at," "philosophy-of-life") and Weltbild ("world-picture").

Flippantly, I might say that representation represents itself. This is not circular like a formal tautology, such as "what you see is what you see." A picture of the world, or some element of it, is a rich evocative arena! A picture is open to critical interpretation and bears the weight of previous and current assumptions concerning the uses (and misuses) of similar images. Because of this we only see through conceptual scrims. Our knowledge of an image is a knowledge of the conditions inherent in that image. For instance, representation from the past reveals to a greater or lesser extent the superstructure of the society that produced it, which is of course related to other elements such as but not limited to the economic base. It also reflects, whether intentionally or not, the mores and values of the people and society out of which it arose. And yet quite often, and at best, it embodies critique and alternatives to these very values and beliefs. We artists are at best both OF our time and AGAINST it!

Jan Van Eyck's painting fully depicts both the religiosity of his time and -the rising antimedieval materialism that was to eclipse it. Oscar Schlemmer's work proffers his period's hope for a grander future, yet also portrays the dehumanization it wrought. Leonardo da Vinci's art, studies and notes are clearly the quintessence of the Renaissance, yet carry bits of the Medieval in them, his heritage, and also grand propositions for how things could be improved. Again, we artists are at best both OF our time and AGAINST it!

It is credible to postulate that much of our understanding of visual art is through its ability to give direct expression to the sense of shared humanity, of shared human experience. But the strongest works are those that sustain the most complex responses, like life. Therein lies the presence and vigor of representation: Works of art can be made for interpretation, cognizant of their status, associations, and cultural situation. Artists have the ability to wield considerable power through their manipulation of the multiplicity of references, technical aspects, emotions, and intellectual assertions of representation to delineate the truth of our experience.

Representation in Art!

Thanks for listening. Podcast number 22. If you wish to hear more cool, exciting and hopefully inspiring stuff about art history and art, come back for more. Also I, Dr Mark Staff Brandl, artist and art historian, am available for live custom Performance-Lectures. In English und auf Deutsch.
I take viewers inside visual art and art history. Entertainingly, yet educationally and aesthetically, I analyze, underline, and discuss the reasons why a work of art is remarkable, or I go through entire eras, or indeed through the entirety of art history, or look at your desired theme through the lens of art history. The lectures often take place with painted background screens and even in my painting-installations.

Some recent ones were on the entire history of Postmodernist Art from 1979 through today, on Metaphor(m) in Art History, on Mongrel Art, and on Women in Art. Once again, I'd like to thank Chloe Orwell, Brad Elvis, and the rock band the Handcuffs for composing, performing and recording my theme song, "Shut Up and Paint," a tiny portion of which begins and ends every Dr Great Art Podcast.

You can find or contact me at
book me at www.mirjamhadorn.com
or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Minds.co or ello, all as Dr Great Art.
 

17 September 2017

Dr Great Art Episode 21: Giotto and Halley's Comet



Giotto, the painter who made the crucial change from the Medieval style thus beginning the Renaissance in art, painted a picture of the Star of Bethlehem which is an image of Halley's comet.
http://drgreatart.libsyn.com/episode-21-giotto-and-halleys-comet

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This is the script (not a transcript, as I change elements when recording).

Dr Great Art Podcast 21

Giotto and Halley's Comet

Hi this is Mark Staff Brandl, with the 21st "Dr Great Art" brief podcast. I hope you enjoy it and come back for each and every one.

After several more theoretical and/or polemical podcasts, today my Artecdote is a simple yet fun art history fact. Giotto's image of the Star of Bethlehem is an image of Halley's comet!

Giotto di Bondone[ (c. 1270 – January 8, 1337), known as Giotto was an Italian painter from Florence. He worked during the Late Gothic / Proto-Renaissance" period. In fact he WAS the main proto-Renaissance.

In his Le Vite, Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, the first art historian ever, Giorgio Vasari, declares that Giotto made the crucial change from the Medieval style, bringing naturalistic observation into art.

So in effect Giotto's work is THE trigger for the beginning of what we call the Renaissance.

The painting we are discussing here is actually not independent --- it is a portion of the cycle of frescoes in the Arena Chapel in Padua, Italy.

This painting segment is now called The Adoration of the Magi and was painted around 1305.

The scene depicts the typical group on the left of the Three Wise Men and their servant and horses at the manger, greeting and giving presents to the baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph, with an angel watching it all on the right. Giotto’s impressive new techniques are in evidence: wonderfully 3-dimensional draping of cloth, solid figures seeming to have weight, emotion on the faces of the figures, and an early, naturalistic but not yet mathematically correct perspective.

The most interesting component for us now is the image of the Star of Bethlehem above the manger in the night sky. It is not an image of a star at all. Not even a bright planet, both of which were typical in Adoration paintings. It is clearly in the form of a comet shooting through the sky. A comet with a ball-shaped head and a pointed, upward-slanting, fiery tail. It is thought that Giotto was inspired by a 1301 viewing of Halley’s Comet.

According to the Bible, the Wise Men followed a star which stopped above the place where Jesus was born.

Halley’s Comet appeared low in the northwestern sky over Italy in the autumn of 1301. With no light pollution, such as we now have, it would have been even clearer, brighter and more impressive than our recent sightings. You couldn’t even miss it at dusk, to say nothing of darker night.

The Comet was discussed widely at that time. Many thought it was inauspicious, meaning a herald of bad events, but many others saw it as sign of change for the good. Very appropriate for the Advent of Christ.

Of course, no one at the time knew they were seeing Halley’s Comet. They did not call it that. People had no idea comets orbited the sun and reappeared cyclically after years. They thought comets were unpredictable, one-off phenomena. In 1705, Edmund Halley, using Newton’s new laws of gravity, discovered that the comets of 1531, 1607 and 1682 were different appearances of the same comet. In his honor, it was named Halley’s Comet. Halley's Comet is visible from Earth every 74–79 years.

In March 1986, a European space probe flew near the nucleus of Halley’s Comet, photographing and examining its surface in detail. The probe was named Giotto in honor of this great artist who gave us what is likely the first realistic portrait of a comet in Western art as well as kick-starting the perhaps most important epoch of culture, the Renaissance.

As an aside, science and art can complement each other and work together, the key overlap lying in serious observation. In that light, I hope to discuss the art of such important Sci-Artists as Charles Lindsay in a future podcast.

Giotto and Halley's Comet!

Thanks for listening. Podcast number 21. If you wish to hear more cool, exciting and hopefully inspiring stuff about art history and art, come back for more. Also I, Dr Mark Staff Brandl, artist and art historian, am available for live custom Performance-Lectures. In English und auf Deutsch.

I take viewers inside visual art and art history. Entertainingly, yet educationally and aesthetically, I analyze, underline, and discuss the reasons why a work of art is remarkable, or I go through entire eras, or indeed through the entirety of art history, or look at your desired theme through the lens of art history. The lectures often take place with painted background screens and even in my painting-installations.

Some recent ones were on the entire history of Postmodernist Art from 1979 through today, on Metaphor(m) in Art History, on Mongrel Art, and on Self-Portraits in Art. Once again, I'd like to thank Chloe Orwell, Brad Elvis, and the rock band the Handcuffs for composing, performing and recording my theme song, "Shut Up and Paint," a tiny portion of which begins and ends every Dr Great Art Podcast.

You can find or contact me at

www.drgreatart.com/

book me at www.mirjamhadorn.com

or find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, all as Dr Great Art.

11 September 2017

Carried Away, from "Out of Sequence" Painting-Installation


A short 3 minute description of the Mongrel Painting-Installation I did for the exhibition "Out of Sequence" in 2008 in 3 museums in the US. A discussion between a "Sidetrack" radio commenter and the curators of the show, John Jennings and Damian Duffy. One of the best and most fun shows I have EVER been included in! Thanks John and Damian once again!
https://youtu.be/6I1hYtRs3-4


03 September 2017

Dr Great Art Episode 20: Mongrel Art and Democratic Art


Mongrel Art! Democratic Art! This Dr Great Art Artecdote Podcast is a description of and plaidoyer for a (Post-Postmodernist) art that is anti-purist, syncretistic, and creolized, unifying a variety of artforms, disciplines, tendencies and philosophies. Artworks involving popular or democratic and street artforms outside the "standard" fine art ones, yet also not eschewing either so-called time-honored, nor technologically "new" disciplines, as it seeks to revitalize and transform them all, while opening the art system and deliberately involving people outside the field of art in artistic processes.
http://drgreatart.libsyn.com/episode-20-mongrel-and-democratic-art

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This is the script (not a transcript, as I change elements when recording).

Dr Great Art Episode 20: Mongrel Art and Democratic Art


Hi this is Mark Staff Brandl, with the 20th "Dr Great Art" brief podcast. I hope you enjoy it and come back for each and every one.

Today my Artecdote concerns something most near and dear to my artistic heart: Mongrel and Democratic Art.

I have made passing comments in my Dr Great Art podcasts about my conception of this potential antidote to or better-said resolution for and expansion beyond Postmodernism. Mongrel Art. Here I finally give the basic definition of what I mean.

I will occasionally shorten this to simply 'Mongrel Art.' That is the key phrase, but I find the other term 'Democratic Art' to be a significant and complementary branch of Mongrel Art.
What is this? Mongrel artists are against purism in all forms, finding it to be morally and politically questionable, a trope of oppression and racism. Much art since Late Formalism is too purist --- too much inbreeding. I find what Formalism became to be a result of a misreading of Greenberg, but that is a thorny subject for another podcast.

Mongrel Art is a syncretistic unifying of a variety of artforms, disciplines, tendencies and philosophies. It often involves popular or democratic and street artforms outside the "standard" fine art ones, yet also does eschews neither so-called traditional, that is time-honored, nor technologically "new" disciplines, as it seeks to revitalize and transform them all. This is not appropriation, fusion or cross-over, but a personal and disjunctive dialogue of arbitration. 'Syncretism' refers to such a practice of truly uniting different doctrines or practices with each other. Mongrel artworks are syncretistic, not eclectic at their best. I discussed this differentiation between eclecticism and syncretism back in the Dr Great Art podcast Nr. 11 on Easter, please go back and listen to that is you haven't already.

The term "mongrel" in English means a dog of mixed or indeterminate breed, often one found on the street. My wife and I always have two dogs and two cats, rescued or from the shelter, thus usually mongrels. The term DOES have distinctly derogative overtones, I am aware. Yet ones that I assert are actually complimentary. For example, I used the equivalent term "Mischling" in several interviews about my art in German, whereupon the writers immediately leapt into the alternate form in that language, "Bastard." While not containing the same meaning as our English word bastard, I still don't appreciate that much, or then maybe I DO! I could use the term 'hybrid,' which is somewhat similar. However, it means the offspring of two animals or plants of different breeds or varieties especially as produced through human manipulation for specific genetic characteristics. Thus, it suggests a mixture usually of only two, while 'Mongrel' suggests something more of a free-for-all. Also, 'hybrid' has that disturbing association with profit-based human manipulation, which we are all suspicious of due to the questionable genetic manipulation of seeds and so on by Monsanto and the like. Mongrel, once again, seems much more natural. Dogs choosing each other in multiple combinations, not corporate manoeuvring.

A related and beautiful term is 'creolization,' in addition to Creole culture itself, this now anthropologically describes any coming together of diverse cultural traits or elements to form new ones, a complex process of cultural borrowing and lending in an area with many different influences. Having lived in the Caribbean, I have personally experienced the richness of creole culture and the promise for the world of creolization as an idea.This bears directly on our recent waves of immigration in Europe from war zones, as well as the political fear mongering against immigrants in the US, and the new re-visibility of racist groups in the US and around the world, including our clearly racist US president Trump. However, due to that term having too many meanings, I refer to such tendencies in art as 'mongrel,' affirmatively refunctioning an old insult, in the tried-and-true method called 'reappropriation.'

Certainly, there is a definite socio-political aspect to Mongrel Art. It's a Blues, Jazz, Rock n Roll, Hip-Hop, even Comics, archaeological "thing" and more. It struck me once that many of my favorite entities, such as those just listed, are mergers of African American, Jewish, and immigrant cultures with the "mainstream" white Euro culture. To my mind improving that later culture immensely. English in fact, viewed linguistically, is a creole language, but due to its powerful position, we seldom want to mention that!

Mongrel Artworks likewise are inherently impure entities; I would amplify this, claiming they offer a positively anti-purist emancipation from narrow formalist reductivism, Neo-Conceptual ironic inbreeding, the malaise of Crapstraction and other Feeble Art --- in short, liberation from academicist confinement. This impurity is a trait to applaud and encourage in order to construct a new road out of the cul-de-sac of Postmodernism. Indeed, objections to such Mongrel works are usually objections to the forms' impurity, if you analyze the hostility closely. "Breaking down seemingly essential boundaries is often thought to be unnatural, and so morally pernicious," wrote philosopher David Carrier. Mongrel Art is radically technically, contextually, metaphorically, and content-wise, non-exclusive, even expansive. For full disclosure, my own art is part of this, as it unites painting, drawing, installation, sign-painting, sequential art (comics), and even performance-teaching in painting-installations in my Dr Great Art project. It is, though, an approach many artists are working toward now.

Democratic Art:
Democratic Art is to me a subcategory of Mongrel Art, the application of its principles to conceptualist-based Social Practice Art. As 'Mongrel Art' was originally a term I created to describe my own art, likewise, 'Democratic Art' is a term created by artists Alex Meszmer and Reto Müller to describe their art. But it was quickly clear that both terms were allied and had application to much other art in addition to ours.

Democratic Art generally uses public space, yet goes beyond the traditional understanding of Art in Public Spaces, here called 'Kunst am Bau.' It opens the art system and deliberately involves people outside the field of art in artistic processes. It assumes that art can also be carried by a public that is not part of an experienced art audience but shows interest in it. Democratic Art aims for discussion, wherein artists understand themselves as participating active members of society, as citizens actively taking part in democracy, seeking integration instead of exclusion, interacting between art and society. It tries to incorporate democratic processes into the creation, exhibition, and interpretation of art. A mongrelization of SoPra.

Who are some Mongrel and Democratic artists? Off the top of my head, in no particular order I would say:
Tom Sanford, Christa Donner, Charles Michael Reid, Maddy Rosenberg, Ashley Bickerton, Gaëlle Villedary, Stefan Rohner, David Reed, Gene Colan, Mira Schor, Damiano Curchellas, Chiara Fiorini, Stefano Pasquini, Tilt, Raoul Deal, Interpixel, Tim Rollins and KOS, Pau Delgado, William Powhida, Guy Richards Smit, Aaron Johnston, Peter Daverington, as well as myself and Meszmer/Mueller.

The inbetweenness of Mongrel and Democratic Art has important social, psychological, even ethical implications — as well as historical-philosophical ones. Mongrel Art interbreeds various established art disciplines and approaches, --- all in order to energize and criticize fine art, vernacular arts, and their publics. This is inherently democratic, closing of the various gaps between educated and mass culture, elite and niche culture and others. Cross the border, lose that gap, get out of our ever-shrinking, self-imposed gated-community artworld. Interbreed.

That was "Mongrel and Democratic Art"

Today we have Listener post! : Lucille Younger is a greatly appreciated listener, who is an ex-journalist --- back from the days when they really WERE journalists! She wrote in concerning Dr Great Art Podcast 18, "Meaning is in Artworks Themselves": Lucille writes, "This podcast was Informative, entertaining, and reassuring for those of us who (with a little trepidation) try to understand a piece of art. You say (in part) the meaning is in the artwork itself, and can be found (or, at least understood) by asking: "What does the act of interacting with this help me understand about life, about art, about thinking about feeling?" That's comforting, and puts appreciating art into a context that we can all understand. Thanks, Mark Staff Brandl!"
Thank you Lucille! That was a part of my intention. I think good discussion can really open doors to art and artworks, thus my Dr Great Art project. Nevertheless, it should not replace direct experience and open-minded, visual interpretation.

Thanks for listening. Podcast number 20. If you wish to hear more cool, exciting and hopefully inspiring stuff about art history and art, come back for more. Andy you, like Lucille, can write to me! Also I, Dr Mark Staff Brandl, artist and art historian, am available for live custom Performance-Lectures. In English und auf Deutsch.

I take viewers inside visual art and art history. Entertainingly, yet educationally and aesthetically, I analyze, underline, and discuss the reasons why a work of art is remarkable, or I go through entire eras, or indeed through the entirety of art history, or look at your desired theme through the lens of art history. The lectures often take place with painted background screens and even in my painting-installations.

Some recent ones were on the entire history of Postmodernist Art from 1979 through today, on Metaphor(m) in Art History, and on Mongrel Art. Once again, I'd like to thank Chloe Orwell, Brad Elvis, and the rock band the Handcuffs for composing, performing and recording my theme song, "Shut Up and Paint," a tiny portion of which begins and ends every Dr Great Art Podcast.
You can find or contact me at
book me at www.mirjamhadorn.com (spell)
or find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, all as Dr Great Art.