Thursday, December 24, 2009

Is MFA's Tomb 10A fine art?

A highlight of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts’ “Secret of Tomb 10A: Egypt 2000 BC” show is its astonishing profusion of painted wooden models from the 3,000-year-old tomb – planters, brewers, men feeding cattle, women weaving, soldiers bearing shields, an armada of 58 ships.

“It’s animated. It’s fun. It’s colorful. But you can’t exactly say it’s fine art,” MFA curator Rita Freed said of the models during a press preview in October. “Their hands are sticks.”

I take Freed’s point. The carving is rough; the goal is quantity, and the depiction of action. The models offer an idealized, wide-ranging glimpse into Egyptian life. They were meant to be magic talismans that would serve the dead in the afterlife.

But that we’re still making this distinction between “fine art” and whatever this amazing stuff is in the Museum of Fine Arts is quite interesting.

Annals of MFA science.

“Secrets of Tomb 10A: Egypt 2000 BC,” Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston, Oct. 18, 2009, to May 16, 2010.

Photos by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.


Blogger Donald Frazell said...

There are many forms of art, something the art academies refuse to recognize, as selling overpriced degrees, especially MFAs, is strictly business, not about creative art.

This is spiritual art, expressive of and for, the deceased in this case. "Fine" art is the overly refined objects and decorations created to enhance a sense of power and control for those who buy and finance them, the rich and in power. It changes with the needs of those who patronize these arts. It is about polish, finish, perfection in life, which is absurd. and so today Contempt Art is absurdist entertainments, as the rich can buy plenty of overly refined industrial objects to fill their lives, from yachts, to homes, to starchitect pseudo sculptural monstrosities, Mausoleums, To household amenities, kitchenware they never use, but looks cool, to Koons and Hirst designed factory works.

For art now is design, it married fashion long ago, the yin to true creative arts yang, which has been left to die in the dust, as it asks too many questions relevant to mankind, not the individuals desires, and upsets the status quo. And so the rich have patronized art academies, and made sure only irrelevant "questions" are brought up as masters thesis to make sure the slightly talented youngsters never develop an intelligence, a purpose, a questioning of who THEY are, and how the world actually is outside of the art "scene" they become slaves to.

There is no "dialogue" in art. an artist makes works that are there to trigger emotions and knowledge in many ways, of mind, body and soul. Contempt art is strictly of the mind, and so shallow, as all three must develop together to enhance, interweave, for they are truly one. Academies are for man to store information, to use as a tool, but nothing in and of itself. Academies are vaults of data, not knowledge, not wisdom, for the Pharisees have mistaken themselves for Prophets. There can never be more than a handful of artists at one time. And one cannot make a living off finding a few, especially when one is truly a mediocrity, how can one recognize true [passion and creativity if one is but a hack? And in the arts, those who can do, those who cant teach. Why listen to those who cant and dont understand, when those who did are all round us, in the real world, no constrained to academic lodgings. Get out into the world.
This art is of theh spiritual one of the three pillars of creative art. It is not for man, but of him. It is for god, or those who go to it, and reflects the natural world. So does have creative arts three subject matter. Raw or not, it strikes a chord, just not as developed as that which is made for the living, that Cezanne brought together as one. Philosphy, Science, and Theology, that of mind, body and soul. That is creative arts field. Let the academies have "fine" art but stop killing the prophets, or stunting their growth. Times are chaning, and as with Cezanne, the Bastilles of art to fall. It only takes a few Cezannes, Gauguins, Matisses to reveal the rotten core of academia. As did Miles, Coltrane and Monk in music. Life is of us, never the ivory towers of the self absorbed. Meism is dead, the age of Excess over. Even the pharaohs knew this in death, and so, tried to bring it with them. To become one with God. Creative arts sole and true evolving Concept, one we have abandoned for the trivial to distract man from what is essential. But times are changing, we must reevaluate who we are. It is about Us, not I.
art collegia delenda est
Save the Watts Towers, tear down the Ivories

December 26, 2009 at 4:18 PM  
Anonymous Todd McKie said...

I am made somewhat wobbly at the prospect of following Mr. Frazell's screed. Nonetheless, I was engaged, Greg, by your short piece on the MFA Tomb 10A show and Rita Freed's warning us off any inclination to view these most wonderful objects as "fine art."

These tomb models - the Met has a fabulous selection of them - have always been my favorite Egyptian artifacts. As a bonus, they probably provide us a larger insight into daily Egyptian life than work from any other ancient culture tells us about itself.

I love the way those things are carved and painted and I didn't count fingers. Of course, I'm crazy for Baselitz's crude sculptures and I've been known to skip a finger here and there in the service of a greater good.

Happy New Year!
Todd McKie

January 6, 2010 at 11:09 AM  

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