What is Original Art? | What is Original Art for?

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Stahl, Deception

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Original Art
Upon a blurred concept

Stahl, Neptune

What is Original Art? What is Original Art for? Coming soon:
Why reproductions? What is a multiple? What about increase in value?

What is Original Art? | What is Original Art for?

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What is Original Art?

Basic techniques
Original art is generally defined as: created by the artist. This comprises paintings, sculptures, drawings, etchings, woodcuts, lithos, serigraphs. I certainly forgot some techniques, some more may be invented in the future.

As is well known, there are reproductive techniques making it possible to produce more than one thing. Some are very old, for example woodcuts.

Reproductions
In former times these were meant to reproduce only. Rembrandt or Goethe for example knew many works of art from engravings only. These were not done by the artist himself and are not considered works of art.

Division of labor
There are works drawn by the artist and engraved or cut by an artisan. Duerer made lots of woodcuts this way. He drew not caring if and how the cutter would translate that to his medium. This was considered a work of art of Duerer, not of the cutter.

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Art of printing
Sometimes the cutter even signed the print, too. Then came the printer. Nowadays the artist does not print the plates done by himself very often. Printing is considered an art of its own. Horst Janssen praised his printer - but he signed alone. He did all by himself except printing. Sculptures are reproduced, too, and usually this is a profession of its own again.

Necessary condition
For an edition to be called a work of art it is held necessary that the artist has worked the medium himself. To make it perfectly clear: If somebody, even the artist, takes a photograph of a painting, this photograph being reproduced through another medium, say offset print, then this is not considered to be art but merely reproduction.

Signature
If the artist signs this print then it is still no work of art as the artist did nothing to the medium itself. Some hold that everything signed by an artist is art, but I won't discuss this claim here. The artist can sign whatever, only if he works at it can this possibly be art in my understanding. On the other hand, if the artist does not or cannot sign an original print it is still a work of art. A signature is not a necessary condition for a work of art.

Art Quarter's offer
Art Quarter, in its attempt to offer low prices, will produce posters and replicas wherever feasible. These are limited and signed, but they are not original works of art. They are reproductions of high quality art.

What is Original Art? | What is Original Art for?

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Photographs
This get perfectly clear with photographs. The original of the photograph is the negative or slide. It is an original not to be sold as a rule, but to be used to make copies on photographic paper like prints from an etching. If the print is digitalised and reworked with a computer program, then the digital image, a simple file, is the original not to be sold but to be printed on a special printer or on photographic paper. These prints are original works of art. They are usually done by the artist himself.

Posters
Art Quarter offers posters from these photographs. These are mere reproductions in another medium and no longer works of art. They are not done by the artist himself. They are comparably inexpensive. They are limited and signed nevertheless, to enhance their value. Limitation and signature do not transform these reproductions into works of art.

What is Original Art? | What is Original Art for?

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What is Original Art for?

We live in times of reproduction. Books, CDs, cars, computers are all produced in large quantities at small prices. Works of art can be reproduced width high fidelity in likewise mass production. Why does this not happen?

Music
Compare with musicians. They still perform for people like they did in former times, maybe with the aid of technical equipment like microphones, but they also produce canned music. Why is the artist of our time not somebody producing Original Fine Art for the masses?

Preindustrial production mode
Fine Art is really different in this respect. As a rule, the artist works alone to produce unique works. No difference to pre technological times. This sure is peculiar. How come?

Demand for Fine Art
The artist would not be able to work this way if there would not be a demand. Some 20 years ago, at times of Pop(ular) Art, famous artists in Germany put up original print art in editions of 10,000 (Hunderwasser, Janssen, Hausner). The prints from Hunderwasser are different each in coloring, so you get actually an unique work of Fine Art. They are not sold out to this day. How come?

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Expensive
One other fact is irritating: Being produced in an oldfashioned way one by one, Fine Art cannot be cheap. How come, people want to buy Fine Art that is expensive? How come, people want to buy Fine Art anyway?

Mass phenomena
To answer these questions, let us first take a scientific point of view. We abstract of our personal experiences and look at people in general. Of course, most people can be dealt with on a statistical level. They got their favorite entertainer, sports, whatever. This is the mass phenomenon.

Four reasons
As a rule, Fine Art is not a mass phenomenon at all. There are a number of reasons for this fact. I'll give you just a few:

  1. Limitation
    First, there is only a very limited number of works an artist can produce in his life. For example, Picasso is famous for his long life and his exuberant productivity. Estimates vary, but there are at most some 40,000 works he did produce. Beckmann on the other hand has definitely made less than 1,000 paintings. Compare this to any other market and you see that these numbers are just ridiculously small.

  2. Distinguishing
    Second, just because of this limited supply, Fine Art is perfectly qualified for distinguishing yourself from the masses. Take any other high priced single item like sports cars or wrist watches or whatever. You can't keep your neighbor from acquiring just the same article if he wants to.

  3. Individuality
    Third, people are eager to express their individuality. They want to know their peer group to reassure themselves, so they tend to accept certain values esteemed high by this group, but equally important is the need to set themselves apart from any mass phenomenon so they can feel their individuality.

    Property is a very good means to achieve both. Take for example a Porsche driver. He will belong to his peer group of Porsche drivers, set himself apart from all other car owners, and express his individuality by certain add ons to his mass production car costing lots of extra money.

    But in the end, he is just another Porsche driver nevertheless. Fine Art is much more rewarding in this respect. Of course, you can't show it to your neighbors like a car. But it talks to your soul in a very intimate way no car ever can.

  4. Soul feeding
    This is the fourth reason making Fine Art a perfect means to feel yourself as the individual person you in fact are. Look at any office or flat or house you know: Are there any bare walls? As a rule, people decorate their walls very careful with pictures.

    These pictures express their individuality and nourish their soul. Very much the same way as music or literature or sports do, too. These means are highly valuable to people.

    You find this reflected in the famous game: What would you take with you if you had to go to a lonely island being allowed to take with you only one book, one picture, one piece of music? A condensed form of expressing yourself through possession.

    Another way to put it: If your house burns and you'd be able to save but a few items, what would you choose? Your art. Everything can be replaced, might be even better if bought new, but your art is unique and cannot be replaced at all. It is the most precious stuff you own, even if it means nothing to other people.

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Uniqueness
To resume: People are unique in the first place. In fact, unique to extent that it is just incredible. Accounting for this, the question is: How can we communicate in the first place? (But that's another essay.)

Communication
In particular: How can a work of Fine Art communicate to a person other than the artist? Obviously, it does. But it is hard to find out if a work of art means the same to all people it does talk to. And there are people it does not talk to at all.

Experience
If I perceive a certain green - do you have the same perception? Does this green mean the same to you? Does it arouse the same feeling, the same remembrances? Obviously not. It cannot as you lived your life and I lived mine, we did not experience the same events and things.

Living
But nevertheless Fine Art communicates not within a certain cultural setting and time, it does so regardless of cultures and ages. We can enjoy stone age paintings as well as contemporary art. And just as those stone age people created something obviously not necessary for mere survival, but necessary for living, we need Fine Art for our living. You won't find bare walls in rooms people live in except maybe for prisons and religious cells.

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Soul
As unique beings we are not machines. We are living souls science doesn't know too much about. We feel and dream and hope and love very much like our forebears centuries or ages ago did. Artists express much of this unknown side of mankind, and our souls need these products of artists although nobody really knows much about it.

Money
Big industry exploits these needs. Movies earn millions and even billions, rock stars become multi millionaires in a row, books are rated by sales figures, all by mass production means. But Fine Art is different. I don't really know why. I didn't even see the problem. There is no real reason not to reproduce art with as much care as music is reproduced. This industry simply does not exist. There were single attempts, but they never became popular.

Mass production
Of course, there is a large poster industry. But this is commonly not considered as Fine Art but reproduction merely. Fine Art was and still is connected to being unique or at least limited, a trait not found elsewhere. No limited movies, books, CDs. On the contrary, the higher the demand the more copies will be produced in all arts except Fine Art. There is no industry reproducing high quality Fine Art for the masses. Fine art is still here, though, not extinguished, and it is in the headlines very often. In connection with record prices.

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Wealth
Wealthy people can invite musicians to their house and get a concert very much like in old times, when a king or duke had his own orchestra or hired one to perform solely for him and his guests. But I guess this is not en vogue any more. Musicians would not be able to make a living from this alone nowadays. They sing and play in front of huge audiences, masses in fact, not individuals. Everybody can buy the best performances of the world to listen to whenever and wherever s/he wants. King and beggar are on equal terms.

Fashion
There are small possibilities to express your wealth nowadays. I can think of no other reason for artists still producing unique works and prices for fashion artists rising sky high as being one of the few opportunities to spend real big money to distinguish yourself. Now hold a minute! If I didn't overlook something very important, this is really amazing! This means that rich people are defining what Fine Art is. Like in the old days, when artists like Leonardo and Bach, even Beethoven were dependent on aristocratic means.

Connoisseurs
Will Bill Gates be considered to be a connoisseur having acquired a single painting for 30 million $? You bet. It happened to industrialist Ströher when he bought taxi entrepreneur Kraushaar's collection of Pop Art for 24 million $. He didn't prove before that he knew much about art. (Kraushaar is said to have spent a few thousand a piece only.)

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Beuys
Next coup of Ströher was the offer to buy a chair with fat on it by Joseph Beuys for 24,000 a woman had paid $ 1,000 for. They did not ask her price. She sold. And they were busy spreading the news. This was to show that artist Beuys had been utterly underrated by the art world. Connoisseur Ströher spent a lot without asking to prove his competence and to leave his imprint on the market.

Circles
You know that people tend to buy themselves into certain circles. Tennis was a closed sport once, Thomas Mann had a private tennis court at his summer residence. Then horse riding, Golf, all these sports are mass sports today. You can switch to polo maybe, being somewhat expensive still.

Generations
But when it comes to Fine Art, you can easily define your own sphere. In fact, the different fashions in Fine Art can pretty well be looked at from a sociological point of view as similar phenomena as the efforts of the young people of a generation to distinguish themselves from the older one.

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Artist's problems
It may be doubted if people who spend huge money on Fine Art have more than that, money to spend. But this drives the industry, so to say. For an artist, there is little between making no money or making too much money. This is too bad for the arts. Same holds true for music and literature, by the way. Some become stars or write bestsellers, being drowned by money in consequence, others starve.

High rising prices
There is another aspect to this, too. Rich people founded eminent museums in the States. Getty donated 700 millions to his Fine Art foundation. The money accumulated to 4 billion at the stock market. They have to spend 500,000 $ daily to not increase capital further. In consequence there is too much money in the Fine Art market. Prices rise and there is no end to see. This opens up perspectives in speculating. And of course there were wealthy people risking some 40 million on a van Gogh. But of course, when it came to sell things were looking different. This situation is extremely unhealthy to the arts and to the public.

Public
The public associates Fine Art with big money. Hence the general public doesn't buy Fine Art at all. They don't realize that they spent far more money on their music preserves or on books than on their pictures decorating the walls. They don't realize that they feed their soul with the best music around giving little care to the Fine Art they buy. In fact, most people are much easier puzzled with Fine Art than with music. The public does not stimulate the artist to produce Fine Art. The public does not exist for the artist. There is little demand from the general public. Not enough to get by. But the lack of stimulation is probably worse.

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Artists
Artists see that if they don't make it to the top (which is like winning first prize in lottery) they have to starve. Hence they are not looking at producing Fine Art in the first place but art which might sell or might be chosen as first prize by the museum or high price cliques.

Museums
In my opinion, there is very little valuable art to be seen in our museums. There is even less valuable art to be seen at commercial events. There is very little valuable written about Fine Art for a hundred years at least. Eminent writers, scholars and critics with extreme sensible taste to old art get nervous and faint when talking about modern art. It is Ernst Gombrich whom I have in mind here, for example.

Hard times
The situation is bad for Fine Art these days. Very good technical stuff is produced, cars, computers, whatnot. Very good music, very good movies (bad movies and bad music, too). Few good art. And those artists producing good art often produce mediocre results in between. It is hard to produce good Fine Art these days.

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Hard times
Time to return to our question. Fine Art is original art still. Art is held to be a big money thing. Definition of Fine Art is left in the hands of people not being able to judge. There are attempts every now and then to point at this situation. There is not much hope. Comes the internet.

Original Fine Art
We can't change the world. But we can do something. We offer Original Fine Art, unique pieces. We offer to prove in each single case the artistic value of the offered piece. We will educate you with every means to enable you to judge yourself. But all our efforts are futile if we don't achieve our main goal: To show you works of Fine Art capable of talking to your soul. And if this happens, we don't have to argue any more. You will want to enjoy this artwork every day.

Reproductions
We are not afraid of reproductions. If you are content with a good reproduction, we will be happy to fill your needs. We even produce merchandise to use as gifts. Make your choice. You don't have to be rich to distinguish yourself with Fine Art.

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© 1998,1999 · Werner Stürenburg · Germany  ;· Hauptstr. 13 · 32609 Hüllhorst · Tel. 0(049)-5744-511-574 · Fax -575

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Galleries | Artists | Journals | About | Mission | Site Map

© 1998,1999 · Werner Stürenburg · Germany  ;· Hauptstr. 13 · 32609 Hüllhorst · Tel. 0(049)-5744-511-574 · Fax -575

Read my Blog · See also my personal site