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Archive for June 24th, 2008

Tasteful Art

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

At my last critique group get-together, I brought this piece. It is constructed from some fabrics printed in a Rayna Gilman class, using found objects. They are combined with a batik fabric and some red silk. It is hand quilted with perle cotton. I named it Black and White and Red All Over. I know, how obvious and trite. It is not that large, about 10 inches by 12 inches. If you click on it, you can see a larger view.

Two members of the group said it was too tasteful and too predictable. The third said, what do you mean by that? Suitable for a hotel room? Then she said, but if you want to sell it, shouldn’t it be tasteful? As the person having my work critiqued, I am not allowed to say anything until they are finished. I think the consensus was that was what they meant. I admit to being taken aback by this and have been mulling it over for almost a week.

What does it mean when art is tasteful, too tasteful or not tasteful? Or what is the description we are striving for—edgy, interesting, cutting edge? But, can’t work be those things and still be tasteful?

Webster gives the following definition of tasteful:

having, exhibiting, or conforming to good taste

The definition of tasteless (I guess that is the opposite of tasteful) is:

a: having no taste : insipid b: arousing no interest : dull 2: not having or exhibiting good taste

I am sure that the critiquers did not think that art should fit the above definition for tasteless, but they obviously felt that there was something inherently wrong with art being tasteful or as they said – too tasteful. So, what should it be? What would make this piece less tasteful and is that what I really want to go for?

Help me! Please let me know what you think about this description. How would you interpret a critique of your work as too tasteful?

(Note: To clarify, this was not the extent of my crit — many design principles were discussed. Repetition, balance, etc. A look at the meaning (I had none) ensued. The predictable, too tasteful comments came up at the end of a pretty good crit.)