Dogs in sweaters

'Dog in a Sweater," by John Cerasulo

'Dog in a Sweater," by John Cerasulo

The Lichtenbergian Society was founded by my friends and I ten years ago after an argument erupted on my other blog about the "nature of art." We were arguing about whether the traditional forms like the symphony or opera were still valid, but in the ensuing years we also argued about that line between Art and Not Art.

We even included it in the Agenda for our Annual Meeting: "Corroborative Evidence" is some artifact someone brings in that corroborates our contention that some work would have benefited had its creator procrastinated longer. (You can read all about it in the book:

And as I was racking my cold-stuffed brain this morning for a topic to write about, Atlas Obscura threw this into my lap: Talking to an Artist Whose Paintings Are Mass-Produced for Hotel Rooms

John Cerasulo is a trained artist who walked away from gallery exhibits and began producing commercial art instead. The article is a very good look at his reasons for doing so and I encourage you to read it.

For our purposes as Lichtenbergians, the main point is that for Cerasulo it matters that someone who buys his painting is buying it to display, not to store in a vault somewhere as an "investment."  In other words, AUDIENCE is critical for him.

I think that's valid, but I also think there's more to the equation. The article does not discuss his economic reasons for making the switch, but I cannot imagine that his income did not factor into the decision. He is producing for a mass market and seems to be managing that balance between artistic validity and sale-ability well enough.  I don't think I can fault him for that.

Any objection I might have to what he's doing doesn't stand up to scrutiny.  Mass produced?  So is every great work of art. Is a Last Supper hanging on your grandmother's wall not art? Ceci n'est pas une pipe?

Playing to the lowest common denominator?  Although much commercial art is uninspired, he doesn't seem to be doing that.  As I read through the article, I wasn't sure if the examples being displayed were his commercial stuff or his "real" stuff, all dogs-in-sweaters aside.

I don't know — the article stirred up some old questions and I have no answers at this time.  Is AUDIENCE enough to make it Art?


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