Painting Pros and Cons

Laurie Fendrich and Peter Plagens discuss the pros and cons of painting in the 21st century.

Plagens: "… painting has become pretty much a niche medium in the big-time contemporary art world… The argument that painting has value because of its history, in the way a lot of current painters invoke it, is merely valuing habit on a cultural scale. 'There’s been a lot of painting for 600 years, so why not keep it going?' This seems weak to me. The only reason I can see to be a painter these days is precisely the existential pointlessness of it, plus the fact that it sometimes looks pretty nifty on the walls."

Fendrich: "… most painters, even though they recognize painting is now a minor player in the art world, remain quietly convinced that painting remains the ‘queen of the arts.’ And they’re on to something with this. Even if painting in general has been shoved off to the side, and even if most paintings are bad or mediocre, painting possesses a staying power unlike that of any other art form. Because painting is motionless in an age where we see everything continuously changing, in a metaphorical sense, it reminds us of permanence. It fools us into seeming as if it were a permanent object. You can linger over it and return to it over and over again."

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