Wednesday, June 9

About "Pretty" Paintings & Art Without Gravitas

Misty Malibu Morning
Watercolor on Paper
Copyright 2009
Hi Fans & Followers-

Some days I just feel like blogging about art on the blog before I hit the paints and canvas, and this is one of those mornings.

I’ve been looking online at some really nice looking (in my humble opinion) oil paintings of outdoor scenes in Southern California. How lucky to be able to paint en plein air most of the time. I’m sure there are many other locales around the world where you can paint outdoors almost all year long, although the only other place I can think of off the top of my head is the Mediterranean coastline.

Some collectors and artists would say that “pretty” paintings, as I call them—you know, those bucolic scenes of pretty meadows or lakes or seasides or mountains or sunsets even pretty people—do not have the gravitas that real art should have.

I suppose those artists and collectors think art should have a higher purpose other than to “sit on its butt in a museum,” as Claes Oldenburg said, and which, by the way, is one of my favorite art quotes (don’t ya love it?).

I don’t necessarily agree that art should have gravitas or a higher purpose. Life is hard enough to get through day by day, don’t you think? Do we have always have to have art that makes us want to take up a cause or makes us suddenly feel guilty because we haven’t done enough or be about something that society has run rough-shod over?

Must the artworld (whatever and whomever that is) be compelled to have a point of view? Can’t we artists, art lovers, and art collectors just sit (or stand) back, take a load off and just enjoy a “pretty” painting?

After looking at some beautifully rendered scenes, I think we should, if only for a minute or two.

Until next blog...


  1. Funny how "pretty" (or, worse, "decorative") is a sneer word amongst art snobs these days. The ugly "conceptual" stuff that's so in vogue right now just makes me roll my eyes. I'd rather create art that people want to live with.

  2. Matisse wanted to create beautiful paintings that were transporting & soothing to view. That was all.

    There's nothing wrong with paintings that are just beautiful. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, a painting is either well-done or badly done. That is all.
    Everything else is opinion.