Yesterday our course on views on art from the overseas perspective covered American and Caribbean art.
Unfortunately I had an issue with scaffolding to be erected outside my home and I had to leave the course to take a lengthy call from an advisor.
Nonetheless I learned enough to appreciate that protest art about slavery and the oppression of black peoples was not my bag.
One artist we coveted was Jean Michele Basquiat.
Our teacher said that whilst his end product might seem original and unplanned he in fact had a disciplined sense of composition.
At heart was the issue that he compromised black art in a world of the monopolist white art dealers by selling out.
Of course he was not the first to rail against the system, Gustav Courbet and the 19th century realists did, and Picasso became a communist after the Spanish Civil War.
In the evening my art teacher J and her husband R, a jazz drummer, came round for drinks and nibbles in the garden.
The conversation was varied and informed.
The only problem was that after the sun set it was bitterly cold. I made the point that art is not just about the visual appreciation of the picture but its historical and cultural context and brings in the commerciality of dealers, the assumed superiority of western art, patronage, religion and social and sexual mores.
I’m reading an excellent book on Bernini’s Rome The Elephant in Rome by Loyd Grossman.
He had the patronage of two popes, his sculptures still dominate Rome – notably his own David and the Palazzo Borghese – but the real purpose was less spiritual and more venal, namely to bring more visitors to Rome and to challenge the northern Protestant reformation.
Then and now art had a political message.