Is shock art an enduring artwork or a flash in a pan?

Many artists are aware of the infamous Damien Hirst and his gigantic shark selling for $1 million dollars or his decaying carcasses displayed as “art”. Is this truly art or something else like 15 minutes of fame type of work. Since most of the work is not beautiful nor lasting does it really qualify as art? Or will it just remain art as it exists and then be forgotten as these dicey projects naturally decay?

My take is that some of it is art, maybe the shark in a tank or his cleaner work. The decaying cow carcass really has little of value besides shock. This is basically reality TV brought into a museum. Do we really value a decaying cow? I personally think it would be of more value to challenge massacres of people by Kony or overthrowing the CCP government for corruption and negligence in governance. I understand the cow decaying is easily understood, visualized and then demonstrated to the public as some freak show. Are museums really this desparate for bringing in crowds to the museum in the first place? I would suggest that the museums hosting such works, really just have poor choice (could be related to the patrons donating), which drive the poor ticket sales and underfunding issue.

The most troubling thing I find in the artworld is repetition of shock art. Once Duchamp made the infamous toilet urinal into art the flood gates were unleashed for ready mades. The problem in the issue is the copy cats, which add little to the shock and regurgitate something easily copied. What value is there in that? By this definition, I would say that Damien qualifies as “art” just because he was the first to use toxidermy to show as art rather than its typical macabre use. Additionally, since most artists while away on landscapes, portraits, still lifes and “untitled” works they just are regurgitating classic compositions, shapes, colors, mediums and close copies of work already established.


Why do actors, authors, attorneys, athletes, musicians, photographers, modern dancers (ad infinitum) call themselves artists?

ShawN shawN • This is an easy one. Artists is the general overarching term, while there are specific titles to specialitites: musician, photographer, painter, sculptor, dancer, writer, etc. It also is due to the changing nature of language itself and the definition of artist. When there were no photography, painting, music, dance and sculpture were likely the only forms of art. Photography at first was not seen as art, but later accepted as a possible art form. Painting reacted to photography leading to impressionalism, abstraction, etc.

In the recent era, the technology redefined how music was listened to. In the 50-60s, it was all about a top 40 hit on 45 LPs. As people moved on to large records, 8-tracks and CDs this set about the idea of buying music scores in a large group and orchestrated as such. Technology like the cassette tape directly led to mixing and blending of music styles like the criss cross of Run DMC – Aerosmith “Walk this way”. Records had also led to scratching and house music by blending two songs together in hip-hop. Another major change to music was the invention of Mtv, which led to the disappearance of ugly-looking artists say Journey for good-looking, but no voice singers like Madonna. This is likely the root of the blend of art and music into artist. After Mtv, you had to be a dancer, good-looking and do music to make it, which is true to this day. Another major change was the iPod recently, which drove music to be mixed by customers and doom the radio DJ and radio commercial business. I personally never listen to radio due to this phenomena, which greatly impacted radio advertising.

As a painter, you now need to advertise online vs. solely in the galleries. This is a massive change in the business of selling art. So painters are becoming marketers as well with digital skills. Graffiti art as well is a new artform, which requires youth, street fighting skills, gang mentality and vigilance — all non-art skills now part of their trade to operate. This all redefines what is the word painting as well. Graffiti artists don’t even call it painting, it is writing. So now they have redefined what a writer is.

Artist will likely always be a general term that no specific skill set can claim as their own. All these changes will continue to evolve as language does. Why did Latin die? It evolved into other languages after the fall of the Roman Empire. English will likely fracture as well into American, British, Australian and Indian eventually. French, Spanish and Arabic as global languages will likely fracture into other languages as well.