Hotel art doesn’t suck. Not in a purely technical sense. I hate it because it doesn’t say…. anything!
Hotel art, office art, the crap you see at the doctor’s office – it’s all typically from the same smarmy mold, and widely despised for the fact that it was created not to be. In other words, it’s about as interesting as cold, unseasoned, vegetarian Shepard’s Pie.
Assuming this is generally true, what is the inverse? Does this mean art should have a message? Arguably, message driven art is as dangerous as lobby art is benign, and in the end we end up hating it even more! We resent message driven art, i.e. propaganda, whether it’s the obnoxious evangelical t-shirt, the pacifist bumper sticker, or the swastika because we inherently know it’s an attempt to manipulate us.
The other kind of art that frustrates me is the kind that only exists for itself. A classic example of this is some crappy tune on top 40 radio that has some generally meaningless words pasted onto a melody with a hip beat. Why must you waste my time like this, top 40?
Now we are in a real pickle! Is there another way to view this? How can art be meaningful and yet not be agenda driven? I contend that it is not only possible, but also essential. Artists/creatives must grab onto the notion that art should tell a story, a parable, some facet of the truth – or run the risk that art becomes permanently co-opted by governments and advertising agencies.
I am not trying to suggest that all advertising is bad…
All I am really saying is that great art tells a story, describes something meaningful, clings to something true. I would also like to suggest that beauty, real beauty comes from purpose. Even if that purpose is solely to inspire you, or to fill you with awe, wonder.