This may be shocking or at least unexpected coming from an art historian who has worked in museums, but I couldn’t tell you what makes an artwork good. At least, not in a blog post; I’d need a book. Over the years we in the art history field have moved away from evaluating art based on taste towards something closer to impact and historic worth. It’s all equally vague, though in modern times it’s more amicable and profitable for institutions to not tell the art object viewer that what hangs in the museum is good or bad. (The very fact that it’s being exhibited may already answer that question.) Nonetheless, despite my past and current training as an art historian and museum professional, today I come to you as a civilian and will offer something few dare to speak in an art history graduate seminar—a personal, purely subjective opinion of artworks.
I spent yesterday afternoon in the Visual Arts Center (located in the Art building) viewing the current exhibitions. As I’ve stated before the space lends itself well to exhibiting contemporary art and one in show in particular was wonderfully executed—Anthropogenesis: Recent Work by Six Artists, curated by my peers Ariel Evans and Lauren Hamer as part of the student-run program Center Space. The exhibition will be up until Saturday, December 18th so take a break from studying from finals and wander around the show. I found the art by Jules Buck Jones especially charming. Something in the colors, layout, and use of drawing connected with something in the recesses of my memory, something that I had once considered beautiful and now can’t name, or something that I should’ve considered beautiful and now do. The distant familiarity of Buck Jones’s taxonomies and animal portraits transfixed me and it was difficult to walk away from their gazes.
Today is the last day of classes for the fall semester! The next time I go to class after today will be on the first day of my last semester in school! Ahhh!!