Friday Fictioneers – The Artist’s Take

Every week, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields (thank you, Rochelle!) hosts a flash fiction challenge, to write a complete story, based on a photoprompt, with a beginning, middle and end, in 100 words or less. Post it on your blog, and include the Photoprompt and Inlinkz (the blue frog) on your page. Link your story URL. Then the fun starts as you read other peoples’ stories and comment on them!

FF - The Artist's Take 171227

PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz

The Artist’s Take

“When looking at conceptual art, we need to consider what the artist means.”

The tour guide scanned her group. Mostly earnest attention; one stifled yawn.

“For example, this sculpture is displayed in an attractive garden. Why? Is it to contrast the unforced beauty of nature with the decorated but crudely angular construction?

A hidden drive turns the wheels, and some wheels drive others – wheels within wheels – but the work itself goes nowhere. Is that a metaphor?”

Damien, the artist, grinned as he listened. He knew what he meant; he didn’t care what the punters thought – as long as they paid.

99 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers – The Artist’s Take

    • Dear Kelvin
      Thank you for your thoughts on my story. I’m really glad you liked the title! Art is certainly something to which I aspire, but at present I’m still very much learning my craft.
      With very best wishes to you and yours for the remainder of the Christmas season, and Happy New Year
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Iain
      Thank you for reading and commenting. You’ve put your finger on a very important question as regards the artist’s motivation. I think the artist needs to feel a passion for the work she or he creates, if for no other reason than that it takes so long to perfect your ability to say what you want with your art.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Dear Penny,

    I’m a Kansas City Art Institute dropout. If I learned nothing else it’s that many so called artists are CON artists. I had painting classes with one or two. But as it is with writing and style, art is subjective. I said all that to say I enjoyed your story.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Penny, your writing is especially fascinating to me because you write on such a wide variety of subjects and each story is as perfect.
    I feel bad that the artist isn’t a little more passionate about his work.
    Wonderfully written story.
    Love,
    Moon

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Moon
      Thank you for your very kind comments. I try to set my stories in a diverse range of settings, with a variety of themes, to help me keep them interesting. Be warned, though! Although I try to fact check, and make sure that what I’m writing isn’t silly, many of my stories – this one is an example – are in areas where I have little or no genuine expertise. Does my tour guide present a ‘correct’ way of considering a piece of conceptual art? I have no idea, although I’ve read critiques in magazines that suggest it may be. Is what she says plausible? I hope so! What matters in the story is the artist’s feelings; they have to be right. And yes, there are definitely artists for whom money is very important.
      The extent to which a writer needs to be accurate is a subject for debate. If you listen to Hilary Mantel, for example, you shouldn’t write historical fiction unless you’re extremely knowledgeable about the period you’re covering; according to her, you owe it to the reader to be as accurate as possible.
      How do you feel about the need for accuracy?
      BTW, I absolutely loved your story this week.
      Love
      Penny

      Liked by 2 people

      • Dear Penny,
        Thanks so much for your lovely, thought- provoking response.
        Variety does indeed help to keep one’s stories interesting but the writer needs to have confidence and a decent amount of knowledge to venture into unknown territories. I, for example write feeling- based, relationship- based stories, usually, I know that makes for bland reading sometimes, especially in weekly writing exercises/ challenges but I haven’t worked much to change that yet.
        I have never had to think about accuracy as such but now that you mention it, I feel, genres such as historical fiction must demand a certain amount of accuracy as far as timelines and events are concerned but that is not the heart of the story . An accurate story without a heart would make for a bland reading too. I feel the heart of a story is it’s pace, the amount of imagination the writer puts into it, whether it strikes a chord with the audience on an emotional or intellectual level.
        My humble opinions, please feel free to correct me.
        Love and best wishes ,
        Moon

        Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Moon
      I feel much the same as you do about the heart of fiction; your text must connect with the reader either emotionally or intellectually. I was fascinated to see that you include ‘pace’ at the heart; it’s a thought that had never crossed my mind before. And maybe you’re right; variation of pace is essential in forging that connection to the reader.
      Another thought that your reply prompted was that your key ingredients for fiction are ethically neutral, and I find that mine are too. Which is intriguing given that we both write ethically positive stories!
      Love
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Clare
      Thank you for reading and commenting. Some modern art leaves me cold, too. But some – even conceptual art – can be both profound and moving. Modern art has a difficult task, in that there is no longer a single common narrative to which everyone can relate.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

  3. Part of me yearns for the art world of old, when craftsmen just made the sculptures and artworks they were commissioned for, after years of apprenticeships and training of course. They didn’t have to stitch a hidden meaning about the human condition to a display of a spent firework or a dissected cow. They just painted life, recorded events and people.
    No sniggering from the sidelines back then 🙂
    Nicely done Penny

    Liked by 1 person

      • As you say in another comment, Penny, so much is subjective. When I studied art history, I remember loving Medieval art and growing to dislike some of the more modern strands – Duchamp’s Fountain being one of them. And yet some ‘modern’ art I love – give me a Rothko or a Klee and I’m happy. I suppose I’m old fashioned in loving something – like a good piece of writing – where I can see the effort involved. Such a stick in the mud, I know! Thanks for the arty chat – always a pleasure

        Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Lynn
      Thank you for sharing some of your feelings about art. I agree with you in disliking Duchamp’s Fountain. But I liked Tracey Emin’s ‘Everyone I have ever slept with’ for example, which has skill and is multi-layered. It was tragic that it was destroyed in the warehouse fire. And, like you, I love Klee. His ‘Angel, still ugly’ for example can be seen as a wonderful representation of human mystical experience.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

      • I never ‘got’ Tracey Emin, but then I never saw her bed, so I’m sure it was cleverer than it was depicted in the press. Just had an exhibition of Grayson Perry’s more recent work here in Bristol, some of which I adored, some not so much, but all had intelligence, wit and craft about them, which is just something to admire

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Dear Susan
    Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m glad you were entertained by the story.
    I’m looking forward to reading your FF stories in the New Year; perhaps you might consider having a go at ‘What Pegman Saw’ too? The extra fifty words of that challenge enables participants to write some very satisfying stories.
    Have a Happy New Year!
    Penny

    Like

  5. Love it. The artist is the only one who gets it…. so often true. I love to watch people discuss my art on display, hidden in the background…very seldom do they ‘get’ it at all. Love it! you captured it so well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Susan
      Thank you for reading and commenting.
      I agree with you.
      Damien’s ‘grin’ may mask a deep underlying pain.
      Certainly as a writer I want to be read and understood, so that I can share something of my joy in the world. I think the same is probably true for you.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Dale
      Thank you for reading and commenting.
      By and large I agree with you. I think most artists have a vision that they want to convey, and are pleased when somebody understands. If Damien’s grin was a light-hearted acceptance of the way of the world, then fair enough. But it is the case, don’t you think, that some artists seem to be very concerned with the money they can make?
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Like

  6. To my mind art is in the eye of the beholder. What is art to some will be rubbish to others. I say good on him if people are buying his work or paying to go on tours – they can have their interpretation – he knows what his was. We will all interpret differently as we all bring our own particular world view to the piece. I enjoyed your work also. It is the same with writing – we will all interpret a piece differently for the same reasons.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Irene
      Thank you for reading and commenting.
      I agree completely that because we all bring a different world view to a piece we will all interpret differently.
      I’m less convinced that what is art to some will be rubbish to others; I think the dividing line is a little more clear cut than that. My personal opinion is that to be art a work must show skill that is the result of many hours of training and practice; it must show insight, or have some worthwhile vision to communicate; and its ‘meaning’ needs to be multi-layered.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

      • There was a huge debate about an art work we bought in Australia. Many thought it was rubbish and a kindergarten child could do it. It cost 1.3 million at the time and is now worth around $350 million. (Jackson Pollack’s Blue Poles). I can tell you I know a few people who still think it is rubbish – but now concede it is expensive rubbish. I do art appreciation and with additional knowledge can now appreciate works that I didn’t previously like although it hasn’t made me like them any better. Its an interesting subject. Thanks for the discussion.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Well written. It asks the question has the artist simply delivered what the public will accept and therefore pay for or has he produced something true and meaningful to himself and fortunately it has been a success. He has to eat so you couldn’t blame him for going with the con, if his genuine work wouldn’t sell and the public is mug enough to accept the pretentious work.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve often wondered about “interpreting” art. Heck! Who knows what the artist was thinking or feeling at the time. I come from a very artistic family (Except the middle sister. The middle sister got athleticism and can’t tie a bow!) That said, it seems we just work from the heart. You captured that beautifully. On the other hand…. Damien might just be out for the almighty dollar.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Alicia
      Thank you for reading and commenting. Your question “Who knows what the artist was thinking or feeling at the time” is very relevant. I don’t think it’s common for artists to ‘explain’ individual works, although you sometimes have schools that hold values in common (PRB, Impressionists, Vorticists etc). Critics who are actively involved with artists may have some insight, but can they ever have any real idea of the fervour that drives creation?
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

  9. Dear Scott
    Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m not sure that Damien is a con artist rather than a true artist who is relaxed about people’s response to his work; he could be either for me.
    Happy New Year!
    Penny

    Like

  10. What an interesting piece, Penny. Art certainly is subjective, so too the appreciation of it. What makes good art? I used to write from a visionary perspective, trying to offer up an alternative and better life for humanity to work towards. This didn’t have many responses or interesting comments. Then I started to write as a reflection of life as it as, good and bad and allowed the reader to decide what to do with it. And this had the greatest impact, mostly because it’s relatable and reader could connect with it. So one definition of good art is if it can connect with the viewer in some way, I suppose. Thought provoking piece.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Fatima
      Thank you very much for reading, and for your thoughtful and considered comments. I think you’re right that art needs to connect with the viewer – but is that a sufficient criterion? If it is, then advertising must be one of the highest art forms! (No, I don’t think so, either!) (Actually, I do think there’s a great deal I can learn about story-telling from television adverts, but that doesn’t make them art).
      It was very interesting to read of your experience of changing your style of writing – thank you for sharing that.
      With very best wishes – and have a Happy New Year!
      Penny

      Like

      • Ha ha ha! 😁 I don’t know if advertising is the highest artform, then again it is art in some way. For some people anyway. Vintage posters auction for quite a bit of money, alongside famous watercolours and oil paintings. Probably because of the connection people feel with the past and what the adverts represent. Anyway could be an endless debate, simply due to the subjective nature of art, I suppose. Thank you for your festive greetings. And HAPPY new Year to you too!

        Liked by 1 person

  11. An artist’s got to eat! Besides now that he’s got it out of his system and satisfied with it what others think doesnt matter that much does it? Enjoyed your ‘take’ on the prompt Penny 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Dahlia
      Thank you for reading and commenting.
      You’re quite right. If he doesn’t sell any art he will have to make a living in some less congenial way. However, artists make art for all sorts of reasons. For some artists, public understanding of their work matters a great deal – hence the various artistic movements.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  12. You art-crit dialogue made me laugh! Spot on. Which leads me to the fact that at least your Damien appears to have made this piece – the other Damien had/has lots of assistants painting spots etc. A fun piece that certainly got everyone chattering.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear mjlstories
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m delighted my art-crit dialogue made you laugh! Art criticism must be very difficult, and there will always be a risk that it sounds ludicrous. However, when it’s applied to something which quite plainly isn’t a work of art, like the construction in the photoprompt, its pretensions are exaggerated even more.
      All the best
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

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