No one wants art outside the art business

At the moment Instagram is pleased again with an example of how little sense it makes when non-art circles talk about art, or get excited, or deal with art in whatever form. Who hasn’t noticed it yet: Two days ago, the Berlin artist Martin Eder became the subject of an attack by the Instagram account @diet_prada, which, as the moral apostle of the fashion industry, usually pillories designers and fashion brands.

The reason for the attack

Eder painted his work “The Unknowable” unasked by another artist, boldly and unmistakably.

Of course the indignation was immediately great, what a dare this artist, if he doesn’t have any ideas of his own, then he shouldn’t even be an artist at all, but that’s the way it is, there’s just no respect for creative content anymore, but oh how great of @diet_prada that you make this blatant problem with stealing pictures public, although you’re actually dealing with fashion and not with art, although, of course, it’s not surprising that you of all people denounce that and not some art people who keep silence about something like that, they just want to make money and exploit artists and so on, you know.

Hundreds of comments and an attempt at clarification by Martin Eder later make it clear: in the end, nothing is won for anyone. Not for the art-unknowing, for whom it’s enough to practice indignation instead of at least acquiring the basic knowledge from the art encyclopedia entry “appropriation art”, not for all the nameless artists, who get angry at the stealing and will never attain an artistic quality level themselves, who would make their own art worthy of being stolen or otherwise quoted, and not for Eder himself, who feels compelled to defend himself senselessly, instead of dealing with criticism that would lead him or his audience to explore the real scope of his art.

All the dumb-asses who don’t know how to do anything else with their time are allowed to get upset about things they don’t understand. It should also be pointed out that the presence of art outside art-specific fields can of course provide exciting, insightful encounters. But apart from the fact that @diet_prada was of course not about releasing an art discourse, but about activating the classic social media formula excitement = reach (see also this commentary on MONOPOL), this example shows: Talking about art can only be done by those who understand or want to understand it, no matter whether this understanding is based on academically acquired knowledge or intuitive abilities. Art will never be democratic, never reach the masses, never be made for someone else, be understood by someone else as a small circle of initiates who, while assuring themselves of the apparent necessity of public participation as the legitimizing factor of art, in reality know that this public sphere in reality has no desire at all for art.

What makes things so tricky is the resulting question: what if?

What if people take the fact that they are suddenly exposed to art on Instagram as an occasion for a real confrontation with this art? What if every time art is shown outside its ancestral fields, it truly reached people there and set a learning effect in motion?

The art world is elitist, it is said again and again, and those who do not belong to it like to express this as reproach. But as the example mentioned here again shows, this is not true at all. Of course, the art world sets up partially feeble-minded access rules to preserve its value system, but what actually makes it elitist is something else: namely the ignorance of all those who don’t want to take the trouble to deal with art.