Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Is painting the highest art form?

Is there anything inherent in painting that causes it to be at the top of the food chain in art?

I had once made the following comment, which I recognize as being snide and snobbish, but one that seemed to make some sense.... "If one studies sculpture, then one studies how to render the human figure in three dimensions... and if one studies printmaking, then one learns the various techniques of making prints... but that if one studies painting, that one is learning how to make art".

I make this comment because it seems that most of the issues of pictorial representation have occurred in the history of art as a product of drawing and painting. When we talk about a visual vocabulary and visual concepts, we seem to be talking about issues that have come up and been answered through drawing and painting. Surely, these are the core issues of art.

Of course, this reasoning is somewhat circular... in that it is a given that drawing and painting will ask and answer the questions that arise in drawing and painting. The same could be said for any other art form. One could say that sculptural issues are asked and answered by the sculptor, or that architectural issues are resolved by architects as they consider architectural issues. So why be persuaded by the fact that an art form answers it's own questions, and to conclude from that that it is superior? Is it simply the dominance of painting (since the Renaissance) that leads us to conclude that the resolution of two-dimensional pictorial issues is the most important thing?

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