Some quotes that sum up, for me, some of the most important considerations about art today.
The contemplation of things as they are without error without or confusion without substitution or imposture is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of inventions.
Francis Bacon On the Interpretation of Nature 1603-4
The state is incompetent in matters of art. When it undertakes to reward, it usurps the public taste. Its intervention is altogether demoralizing, disastrous to the artist, whom it deceives concerning his own merit; disastrous to art which it encloses within official rules, and condemns to the most sterile mediocrity. It would be wisdom for it to abstain. The day the state leaves us free, it will have done its duty towards us.
Gustave Courbet letter to M. Maurice Richard, Minister of Fine Arts 1870
Painting and drawing bring us in to a different— a deeper and more fully experienced relationship to the object. We have had a gutful of fast art and fast food. What we need more of is slow art; art that holds time as a vase holds water; art that grows out of a modes of perception and making whose skill and doggedness make you think and feel; art that isn’t merely sensational, that doesn’t get its message across in ten seconds, that isn’t falsely iconic, that hooks onto something deep running in our natures in a word art that is the very opposite of mass media.
Painting is, you might say, exactly what mass visual media are not; a way of specific engagement not of general seduction. That is its continuing relevance to us. Everywhere and at all times there is a world to be re-formed by the dazzling subtlety and persistent slowness of the painter’s eye. There is beauty in pure paint confidently handled.
… The basic project of art is always to make the world whole and comprehensible, to restore it to us in all its glory and its occasional nastiness, not through argument but through feeling, and then to close the gap between you and everything that is not you, and in this way pass from feeling to meaning. The Shock of the New
… today I think we are left with a more modest, but an equally difficult task for art to do, and that is to be beautiful, to manifest beauty. People need beauty. There’s a hunger for it amid the clamour of visual imagery that surrounds us and so we seek out zones of silence and contemplation, arenas of free thought and unregimented feeling.
The idea that aesthetic experience provides a transcendent understanding is at the very heart of art. It fulfils a deep human need.
Robert Hughes The New Shock of the New