Over on Doctormama's blog, she posted about taking a cruise, and mentioned not liking the art (they always sell art on cruises, i assume because people on a cruise either have $ to burn, or get caught up in the moment and splurge on all kinds of things).
Anyway, DM didn't like the artwork:
Which is fair enough -- I don't think I'd buy it either. But what I found interesting was the universal and emphatic condemnation of it in the comments section. People talked about eyeballs melting, or poking their own eyes out. They're joking of course, but their position is unambiguous WRT this painting.
So my question is this:
What's so bad about it? It's not to everyone's taste, I admit. But nothing is, not even the Mona Lisa. Art is mostly about resonance for a particular person; no one has a monopoly on taste.
What I expect to hear is that it's "tacky". Dictionary.com says tacky means:
1. not tasteful or fashionable; dowdy.
2. shabby in appearance; shoddy:
3. crass; cheaply vulgar; tasteless; crude.
4. gaudy; flashy; showy.
In the painting above, the colors are pleasing; the human form is nicely rendered; the theme has been a common one for serious artists throughout the ages; it's not obscene; it conveys some sensuality, but mostly affection. IOW, the only meaning of "tacky" that applies is #1, "not tasteful" -- and I contend that taste is mostly a matter of, well, taste. If this is "bad art", then a fair amt of what I saw in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC was utter and complete crap.
So, you wanna know what I think is going on? Well too bad, here it is anyway:
#1: Criticizing -- especially art -- is fun; it's a challenge to come up with a clever way to exaggerate how much we hate something.
#2: We like absolutes. We like certainty. We like belonging. And we like to feel superior.
So as soon as a person -- especially someone we admire -- suggests that something doesn't measure up to certain standards of class, we fall all over ourselves trying to put distance between us and the taint of bad taste. We're terrified of being the person who puts up something in their house that everyone else would laugh at. This fear is so strong -- we're so attuned to what we're supposed to like -- that half the time we don't even know what we care for and what we don't.
Now, I have no problem with savaging a piece of art in the comments section of a blog -- that can be fun. But what about this: we'll go to someone's house, and later on we'll criticize their taste in furnishings, in artwork, whatever. Who the hell do we think we are? It's their bleeding house. Not ours. We don't live there. They've chosen something they like, and somehow we think it's useful to venture an opinion about the rightness or wrongness of what they've chosen.
"I don't care for [x]" seems about the absolute maximum useful statement to make about someone else's art choice -- and even that is mostly irrelevant, unless we're actually having a conversation about art, or the person we're talking to is actively trying to learn what our tastes are.
But we go far beyone that -- we're downright snide: "Did you see that hideous [x] they put in the living room?"
AFAIC, the rules should be:
#1: Put whatever the hell you like to look at up in your own house.
#2: When it comes to something decorative that other people have chosen, keep your mouth shut.
Your mileage may vary; your opinion is welcome.