Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Shock of the New

As busy, globe trotting consumers of surf culture, we probably don't stop to pause and reflect on the diverse artistic influences that have come together to manifest in the products we purchase. I'm talking aesthetics and design here and not the three phase rocker theory, cavitation or fin foil.
I'm talking the seemingly peripheral stuff that pervades surfing, spawning a multi-billion dollar world wide industry selling us everything from kicks inspired by the late artist Keith Haring to Mambo's irreverent Aussie - faux Orientalism - Daliesque hybrid linoprint surfshirts to boardies inspired by the imagery of "avant-guard" artists 100 years ago to "son-of-Mambo" (aka Deus ex Machina) to skateboards resurrecting the best of Japanese-Californian hybrid Kustom Kulture.

And let's not forget the whole "sea shanty" tattoo scene pioneered by Sailor Jerry, himself inspired by the art of South East Asia when he was a sailor. Wonderfulness, all of it. Without knowing it, we are walking by-products of legendary artists many of whom have moved on to "infinity and beyond". The alternative is a beige universe and Apple and Nike know there's no $$$$ there.

Today's (rushed) post is dedicated to the memory of Robert Hughes who passed away yesterday in New York leaving a legacy of cogent, passionate analysis and argument regarding Art spanning 50+ years in his roles as art critic for the New York Times, BBC broadcaster and author of books like Heaven and Hell in Western Art and The Shock of The New. If nothing else, this guy from Sydney who dropped out of Architecture School, opened the previously exclusive palace of serious, expensive, elitist high brow Art world to the deserving masses via the most popular medium of his day the good old TV set and the hard cover book that any of us still can borrow from a library.
"Art discovers its true social use, not on the ideological plane, 
but by opening the passage from 
feeling to meaning - not for everyone, since that would be impossible, 
but for those who want to try. This impulse seems immortal. 
Certainly it has existed from the origins of human society 
and despite the appalling commercialization of the art world, 
its flight into corporate ethics an strategies and 
its gradual evacuation of spirit, it exists today"
excerpt from The Shock of The New by Robert Hughes 1980

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