Every now and then, you’ll come across an article which puts a case for something or other being taken seriously as an ‘art form’. Designing computer games, cake-making, upholstery, you name it, sooner or later it’ll be up there with painting the Sistine Chapel. And the more elaborate or intricate the process of production, the more earnest the appeals of the writer seeking artistic validation. And sometimes the article will even come right out and say it: ‘This [insert the thing being promoted as a Serious Artistic Endeavour] is art. It’s as much art as Turner’s late paintings, which were once dismissed as “soap suds and whitewash” by the sneering cock-eyed art critics of the day.’ And if you’re the sorry art critic who protests, then you may as well be sent to the art critic’s knacker’s yard, since your day has surely passed.
The writers who write these appeals usually think that simply by repeating their claims about how lovingly crafted their particular thing is, or how highly skilled its production, that they have made a compelling case – all without so much as a pause to ponder the bigger question about the nature of art, or the way the art world operates, or even bothering to see what much contemporary art actually looks like.
Ah, we’ll all say after reading their pleas, we don’t want to be like those sneering, cock-eyed art critics, all destined to be proven wrong by history. Why, if Michelangelo were alive today he wouldn’t be painting the Sistine Chapel, he’d be decorating fancy cakes, upholstering designer furniture, designing games for the more discerning middle-class gamer (not those smashy-and-grabby affairs, but something stark and minimal and artistic) – or, as was often said in the 1980s, making video art. And he’d be way ahead of those know-nothing critics who once sneered at Turner.