Is Art Necessary?
By Vijaya Koteeswaran
article on Delicious Share this article on Digg Share this article on Reddit Share this article on Pinterest
I am an artist at heart and an accountant by profession. I make paper collage paintings and also enjoy painting with acrylic on canvas. I particularly like learning new techniques and styles of painting.
However for some time now I have been plagued by the question "Is art necessary?'' I have felt perhaps I ought to put my time to better use. Do something really productive and worthwhile. Do something that would improve the world, something really useful and perhaps to make a difference. And also find my purpose. Yes the perennial question - is this all there is? Suddenly making art started to feel like a kind of selfish indulgence. Like I should have utilized my time to do something more important. So I started to think if any art was necessary at all.
Every single day I read the morning paper. I read to keep myself informed of the news. The news is of crimes committed. Of horrible crimes against women and little children. Of the destruction wrought by natural calamities. Of people suffering from lack of water or too much of it. Of the air being polluted and of climate change. Of plastic destroying marine life while uncaring governments ruin the environment. Of the corrupt politicians destroying the social fabric for personal gain. Off Ill-informed people running the economy to the ground. Wrong people at the helm of affairs suppressing and destroying the good. Makes me wonder if anything will ever help stop the rot. Hardly gives me any reason to smile at all. Save for the little cartoon on the back page, Calvin and Hobbes.
So while I have largely felt like Nero fiddling when Rome was burning, I suddenly caught myself on the last line there. The little cartoon Calvin and Hobbes seemed to be the only thing relieving me from the relentless depression of the morning paper. The little stuffed tiger and the very cute expressions. The cleverly drawn cartoon with barely 3 or 4 panels conveying an idea usually a witty one. Drawing the reader into the life of a little kid sometimes making the reader wonder where the story goes next. I am always compelled to read this cartoon. Even on mornings when I am running late I have a quick look at the cartoon. On holidays I take the time to sit and marvel at the talent of the cartoonist. How the stuffed tiger looks so alive in one panel and like a toy in the next. Thank you Bill Watterson.
So what is this cartoon if not art I asked myself? It provides me a momentary respite from the depressing news and tediousness of the daily newspaper. In a way it enriches me by giving me a glimpse of something fantastic. So isn't this all that art is meant to do?
In a world plagued with sadness perhaps art is like the clouds parting and letting in a ray of sunshine. Is that not important? There will always be death and destruction and blood and tears. There will always be bad news and people in need of help. But then art must exist too. Art provides a kind of relief to the dreariness of one's life. Perhaps this could be also why they made so much art in the past centuries when daily life was a grind and there was so much sickness and suffering from plagues and wars. And today when we look art works from the past we are uplifted and filled with a sense of awe, of the greatness of their vision, of the enormity of their talent and of the permanence of their works.
This is why art is necessary. Though not all art can be compared to the great masters, in its own way every artwork speaks to someone. It does provide that glimmer of light in a cloudy day. It elevates the soul of its maker and makes the viewer consider if only for a moment a glimpse into a different world. And if it is really good art, it makes the viewer pause and perhaps smile or be awed.
So art is necessary. All art is necessary. I arrived at the conclusion that it was important for me to continue to make art for myself and for the benefit of others.
The next question I am considering now is how much time should I spend on my art. Perhaps I shall refer again to a quote by little Calvin, "God put me on this earth to accomplish a certain number of things. Right now I am so far behind that I will never die."
Visit Vijaya's Art of Paper Collage at
Design & Art History - The Psychedelic Movement (CA 1960 - 1970)
By Johan Torhaug
In the late sixties something happened to an American generation that would mark them forever. It is a story of war, the struggle for racial equality and the explosion of counter culture, it was a time when a generation rebelled, and lost its innocence in the fight against injustice. Vietnam was the first ever televised war, and the images were inescapable.
A decade that ended with disillusionment and rage began on a moral high note. Thanks to Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King jr, it seemed the time for racial equality in the US had finally arrived.
There is so much to write about in this era, that it is very difficult to select just one thing to focus on. Even though there is an absurd amount of art and design that stems from this time period. When we talk about the "sixties" all we seem to recognize is the music, psychedelic rock and artists like Janis Joplin and Jimmy Hendrix in particular.
Album art and festival posters however is a good place to start. As music was a force to be reckoned with, so came the album art work and poster designs, hand in hand. One thing that seems to be re-occurring with most of the visual artists at the time is a relation with "Underground Comix". These were small press or self published comic books, usually socially relevant and satirical in their nature. These depicted content deemed unfit and forbidden to the more strict mainstream media.
When we look up band posters it is hard to avoid finding a Grateful Dead poster somewhere, anywhere. The artist behind these were Rick Griffin. He was an American artist and one of the leading designers of psychedelic posters in the 1960s. His work within the surfing subculture included both film posters and his comic strip, Murphy.
A Spanish-American artist, Moscoso was the first of the rock poster artists of the 1960s era with formal academic training and experience. After studying art at the Cooper Union in New York and later attending Yale University, he moved to San Francisco in 1959 to study at the San Francisco Art Institute. Here he later became an instructor. He was one of the first of the rock poster artists to use photographic collages in his art work. His art and poster work has continued up to the present and he is a big inspiration to rock poster and album illustrators to this day.
Another American artist making a name for herself at the time was Bonnie MacLean. She was born in Philadelphia and graduated from the Penn State University in 1960. She then moved to New York where she worked at the Pratt Institute while attending drawing classes in the evenings. She later moved to San Francisco where she met and worked with a man named Bill Graham, who became famous as the promoter of rock concerts at the Fillmore Auditorium. There she worked alongside another artist by the name of Wes Wilson.
The aforementioned artist Wes Wilson was also one of the leading illustrators of psychedelic posters in the 1960`s. Working with Bill Graham and Bonnie MacLean, he was a big part of promoting venues at the time with posters and illustrative work for musicians and bands. The font and lettering of the posters from this era were created by him. He popularized this "psychedelic" font around 1966 that made the letters look like they were moving or melting. This lettering is still used on newer albums and art works for artists like Foo Fighters, Kyuss Lives and The Queens of the Stone Age. This in turn proves that the psychedelic movement is still influencing artists, especially in the world of metal, desert rock and stoner rock. The style is very much still alive as its own staple.
Modern poster styles:
Posters still influenced by the styles of art work can be traced through homages and inspirations in rock and metal posters from the present all the way back to this era. Several modern posters can be viewed on the web pages of Malleus Rock Art Lab if you should be interested. I personally find a lot of inspiration through their imagery.
Thank you for reading.
If you found this article enjoyable i often write about different art styles and its history as well as my own work on my blog that can be found at http://www.atrum-illusions.com
Thank you for your time.