Existential pointlessness or Staying Power, Pros and Cons of Painting


Peter Plagens (painter and critic) and Laurie Fendrich (painter and professor) have a conversation about the "Pros and Cons" of painting. They discuss the niche aspect of painting and Plages posits that 
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 responds....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. What its critics see as its debility-that it’s a rectangle hanging on a wall-makes you recognize it instantly as art, and indeed it’s next to impossible to see a painted rectangle hanging on a wall and not consider it to be a work of art.

Peter Plagens, I Don’t Give a Damn / Every Moment Counts, 2010, mixed media on canvas, 48” x 38”. Nancy Hoffman Gallery, New York.
Peter Plagens, I Don’t Give a Damn / Every Moment Counts, 2010, mixed media on canvas,
48” x 38”. Nancy Hoffman Gallery, New York.


Laurie Fendrich, Don't You Dare, 2007, oil on canvas, 36” x 34”. Courtesy of the artist.
Laurie Fendrich, Don't You Dare, 2007, oil on canvas, 36” x 34”. Courtesy of the artist.

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