Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Virtues of Bad Art

There's no real reason for this to be here. I just wanted
a picture and I don't want anyone to think that I'm
some sort of armchair artist. I'm competent enough
to criticize the incompetent, that's all
Also... ordinarily I wouldn't post any art that 
I've already given to someone, but I'm no longer
 obligated to be nice to the recipient
 and he didn't like Bertrand Russell. So. 

Now, I have two professional artists in my immediate family, which means, of course, that I regularly hear Tennyson-length monologues on how people should learn how to draw properly, how calling oneself an artist doesn't automatically mean that one can actually do art, and how "bad is not a style." 
But I appreciate people who make bad art. You see, my opinion on their choice of vocation is, to paraphrase Shaw, 'that if they tried to do any useful work some competent person would have the trouble of undoing it: a procedure involving a net loss to the community, and great unhappiness to themselves.' So really, if they're making bad art, then at least they aren't out there screwing other things up for the rest of us. Result: in increase in the world's total utility, and a decrease in the net inconvenience to me.* 
If the price of that is a few eyesores and the occasional inane ramble about someone's "artistic vision," then so be it.
I'm not going to quibble with anyone about whether such a thing as "bad art" actually exists; I am entitled to a subjective opinion that there exists genuinely bad art, and I will not be dissuaded. Anyone who thinks otherwise has clearly never been through in The American Wing in the Met. (The portraits I'm talking about are secreted in a rather inaccessible room above the Frank Lloyd Wright section and hidden behind rows of silver pieces, pottery and fine art, all of uncertain artistic merit. Someone might almost think they didn't want anyone to find it.)
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*Like all good naive utilitarians my definition of utility is pretty much contingent on my own notions of personal utility.