02 December 2012


There's been some discussion on a quilt forum about the Color Improvisations exhibition, curated by Nancy Crow. Some people were disappointed that the quilts weren't all made by Nancy, but rather by her students over the years.

Does it matter who the quilts were by? was a question that came up.  After some thought, I decided Yes - and No.

"yes" in the sense that if someone's name is so closely associated with an exhibition, unless you knew more about it, you'd expect the exhibition to be about that person's work. (Which, in a sense, this was ... a teacher's effects on students, showing how the "best" students don't copy the teacher slavishly but go on to develop their own style.)

 "no" in the sense that the work in the exhibition was so interesting -- and also because in the absence of any information about the maker, the work has to speak for itself. The viewer brings her knowledge and critical discernment - and also her "likes".

 Again on the "yes" side, knowing more about the maker adds to the perception of the current work - eg, she used to use bright colours and this work is in neutrals, how does that affect what she's done with the composition or even the choice of subject - or, this maker is known for her use of text in quilts and this time she's done something entirely different - or: gosh another quilt in the same old way we've seen for ages.... In the same way, having a title influences your perception of the work - or, reading the title after looking at the work can help you see new things in it.

The question remains: does the name of the maker affect your perception of the value of the work?

1 comment:

Kathleen Loomis said...

I have to say yes it does. If a name is familiar to me, that means I am somewhat familiar with her body of work, and when I look at the new piece I am relating it to other pieces. If a name is new to me, I am regarding the single work in a vacuum. So my perception does change.

But now I see that you asked about perception of value, not just plain old perception. I assume you mean how much we like the work, not it's price tag.

I won't say that one is better than another, but I might appreciate work more if it fits into a context than if it stands alone. I think I'm just as willing to carefully look at "new" work as to look at work by people I know.

That isn't necessarily true in art museums with lots and lots of stuff on display -- I have the bad habit, if I'm in a hurry, of walking quickly past the work by Joe Schmo and stopping only at work by Famous Painter.)