Thoughts on Grayson Perry’s 2013 Reith Lectures

I listened to a couple of Grayson’s lectures, but I think I’ll do my best to make some comments on his lecture entitled ‘Beating the bounds’ in which he gives his definition of the boundary of art, trying to pin down what is art…

Here’s a link to the pod-cast:

I also found a link to a transcript of the lecture, which was incredibly helpful to read, as the lecture moves at  brisk pace and a lot of the references to art works or concepts were new to me.

Here’s a link to the transcript:

He suggests several boundary markers to help us define art and I’m just going to make a note of those which stood out to me and why.

Suggested Boundaries:

Is it in a gallery or an art context?

Grayson uses Duchamp’s Urinal as the example for this point, saying that in bringing the urinal into a gallery space and placing it on a plinth he’s put it in the context to be viewed as art. I agree with the idea that context helps us to interpret and understand the way to view something, in this case art.

But does it cease to be art once it’s on someone’s wall, what if Duchamp had placed the urinal in his hallway and photographed it? Would it be art then or simply an unusual decoration?

Is it made by an artist?

I think here the crux of the argument is about context, that to create art you need to be an artist because an artist understands the art world and therefore knows how to create in a manner which can be understood or misunderstood by those in that world. But it seems a little exclusive to say a non artist can’t make art.

We’re then in the realms of asking what makes an artist, is it training, skills, a unique view point, an education in art, a family background of artists, or is it being paid for making art?

The Limited Edition Test 

Here the implication is that art is perceived as art by way of something’s rarity, and perhaps it’s collectable nature. Is this straying into the idea that collectors or the wealthy decide the value of art or even if something is art when they decide to buy it??

The Computer Art Test

Essentially Grayson discusses what distinguishes computer art from an interesting web article. His conclusion is that computer art or any art for that matter should cause the viewer to stop and think, it should require reflection rather than an instant reaction or in the case of viewing on-line the click of a mouse onto the next thing.

Personally this made me consider what I find valuable in art is partly the idea that someone has created this from something, from a some place of internal deliberation or imagination or in response to something, it’s not random. I think I struggle to call something art if I can’t try and derive some meaning or some point of view being projected from it.

I’ll leave my thoughts there for now…

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