When on this sort of topic (following up on my blog post of just a moment ago), I can't help but remember a visit to the Frieze fair in London last year.
It all happens in many large tents errected in Regent's park, where, frankly, the quantity, quality and variety of art on display blows your mind (I actually don't like this expression, but it's really the only appropriate one to describe the feeling of walking around inside those tents).
This one guy was exhibiting African art. i.e. masks, weapons, ceremonial dress and the like. Really beautiful things that I was looking at with much pleasure - until I heard the gallerist, with his posh accent, blabbering on about the "provenance" of his wares. I couldn't help but think what a pompous git, and how all these anciliary, material considerations can really weigh down on and ruin your spiritual connection with, and enjoyment of, a work of art.
Duh ! their provenance was Africa, and it's not entirely impossible that the craftsman who fashioned that mask or that weapon, if he could survey this scene from accross time and space, would consider it with bewilderment, disbelief and possibly even some concern.
As argued in one of my older posts taking the examples of journalism photos that have become iconic, it goes to show, once again, that art is in the eye of the beholder.
Don't get me wrong, I absolutely don't begrudge the craftsman or photographer whose creation is thus "elevated" : that art is in the eye of the beholder is precisely what defines art, and this ought to be celebrated. But I do feel that we sometimes err in the opposite direction, and that we would occasionally do well, for the sake of sanity that is sometimes scarce in the art world, to take a step back and consider things, just for a moment, through the eyes of someone other than the immediate beholder.
Not least because the latter may be equally prone to commoditize a beautiful thing and keep it hidden inside a vault.