Up to a point, one could say I’m an art snob. There are certain types of art I don’t gravitate towards and not because they lack merit. They just don’t speak to my creative or emotional sensibilities. I think it’s acceptable to make personal value judgments about art in that manner in order to develop a personal aesthetic. What I find objectionable is applying “the snob factor” to an entire class of works. I’m referring here specifically to works on paper.

For the past several years I’ve witnessed a snobbish resistance to works on paper. In parts of my region of the country—the South—designers and decorators are dissing works on paper to their clients because of the reflections on the glass. Strangely, the snobbery isn’t based on the quality of the work but merely the fact that it’s under glass. This attitude has, unfortunately, flooded into some gallery environments. Their point being the artwork can’t be viewed properly with ambient reflections. Baloney!

It’s my position that if the artwork is framed correctly with non-glare glazing and the proper lighting, glare becomes a non-issue. After all, we should buy art based on our emotional response to it not solely on how it looks in our home or whether it matches our couch. Yes, there will always be some glare, but I’ve seen oil paintings with a very high gloss varnish that could hardly be viewed from any angle!

The question becomes how do you view watercolors, drawings, intaglio prints, serigraphy, collage, egg tempera and any other work on paper if they are not presented under glass to protect their surface quality? This philosophy, in theory, would eliminate hanging most two-dimensional mediums except oil and acrylic paintings on canvas, wood or metal. Ask the collectors of John Whalley, Dean Mitchell or Charles Reid if the glare on their beautiful work was a factor in their purchase? I think not!

Clearly this is a personal observation and opinion. I’m not making a blanket statement that applies to all parts of the country or even all parts of my region. However, I’ve not observed this to be true in other parts of the country I’ve visited over the last few years. There may be other factors at play here as well such as a value hierarchy between different mediums. I will leave that topic for another blog.

Artistic snobbery is a good thing if used to help determine your personal taste in artwork. Not so much if the packaging is more important to you than the gift.

The solution? Better education of gallery personnel, designers and decorators? That will help. A fundamental change in attitude of what is valuable could be in order as well. I’m not sure how to accomplish this except one exhibition and one sale at a time. But like I say, I’m just tryin’ to make small talk.

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