Friday, December 24, 2010

But Is It Art?

I have had a lot of experience in the world of Decorative Art. I have read literally thousands of books, visited hundreds of museums and attended professional conferences all over America and Europe. I have reviewed auction catalogues and had lengthy discussions with museum staff and still do not understand the prejudice against considering marquetry as "fine art."

Clearly, the marketplace makes a distinction between fine art and decorative art. It is obvious that paintings will easily bring millions of dollars and that only a rare few examples of furniture have sold for above one million dollars.

So, in effect, the marketplace has determined that paintings, considered as fine art, are more than one hundred times more valuable than furniture, considered as decorative art.

Even the terms are inherently prejudicial. "Fine" is naturally a good term. "Decorative" is somehow less important, as if it is just wall candy. "Fine" stands the test of time. "Decorative" can change as fashions and fads change.

On one hand, I can accept that porcelain, furniture, silver and other "trinkets" are not in the same market as a Picasso. (When I include porcelain, I immediately visualize the incredible painted decoration which is used and wonder...) But on the other hand I cannot understand why marquetry is not considered a fine art by itself, which just happens to be attached to a cabinet.

Then there is the wall art, produced by marquetry artists. Even in the 17th century this was referred to as "Painting in Wood." Isn't that enough to be classified as fine art today? If not, why not? After all, modern artists work in mixed media, and their work is often considered fine art.

Just click on the two photos I have posted here and tell me if it's "fine" or "decorative."

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