Below is a rough draft of an essay that I've written sporadically in the past year or so. Hopefully it will give you a better idea about my influences, as well as other ideas behind my work. Remember it is a rough-rough draft but I thought people might want to check it out anyways.

Those who read the symbol do so at their peril. It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors. Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital. When critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself. We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.

All art is quite useless.

-Oscar Wilde, Preface to "The Picture of Dorian Gray"




"...when you come right down to it we're in love with beauty. You wouldn't think that's what everyone's actually involved with, but I don't know what other significance all this fucking noise could be about, do you? And I think civilization, as currently understood, ought to shut the fuck up and inquire more deeply into what this preoccupation with beauty might mean. If possible before it's too late, you know what I'm saying?"

-Rafi Zabor, "The Bear Comes Home"


Before one begins to put forth theories of art in regards to its current state in history, one has to first acknowledge that a defining part of art is its inherent nature to elude definition. For centuries, scholars have attempted to categorically identify the fundamental aspects of beauty only to have new artists come along and create masterpieces that do not fit within these generalized aesthetic formulas. Problems always arise when academic circles try to articulate what constitutes superior art because a recipe for excellence is so simplistic that it is ultimately never illuminating and a significant work of art can readily disprove any of these given standards of excellence. Beauty cannot be formulized.

As Hegel states in PHILOSOPHY OF RIGHT "Philosophy always comes on the scene too late to give instruction as to what the world ought to be. As the thought of the world, it appears only when actuality is already there, cut and dried, after its process of formation has been completed... When philosophy paints its grey on grey, then a shape of life has grown old. It cannot be rejuvenated by philosophy's grey on grey; it can only be understood. It is only with the fall of dusk that the owl of Minerva spreads its wings."

In the end philosophy can only take you so far and it is necessary at some point to take a pragmatic approach in order to address the realities and hardships of life. For example, a work of fiction like Orwell's 1984 has done more to uphold the democratic values of equality and privacy than any other philosophical treatise has ever been able too. As Marx eloquently put it- "The philosopher's have only interpreted the way the world works; the point is to change it."

That said, the fuction of art as first identified by Marx is social criticism. To put it another way, bad art is art that upholds the values of the existing society. In this respect, truth always rests with the dissenting minority because minorities are only formed by those whom actually have an opinion. Popularity, therefore, should never be considered as a standard of achievement in art.

Compositinally, my artwork generally manifests the five basic distinctions of Baroque Art as outlined by Heinrich Wolfflinn in his 1915 book PRINCIPLES OF ART HISTORY. These five distinctions of Baroque Art that I espouse are a general tendency towards the painterly rather than linear elements, recessional rather than planar perspective, open rather than closed form, unity rather than multiplcity, and, finally, unclearness rather than clarity. As seen in most of my pieces, I often use warped angles and perspctives with the aim of creating a more dynamic composition. Essentially, I tend to avoid the over-rationalization of classicism and prefer, instead, the dramatic spirit of the Baroque that engages the viewer and candidly represents chaotic reality.

Wolfflin stresses that these Baroque and Renaissance distinctions are not just limited to describing only one specific moment of history but are, in fact, universally applicable. My affinity towards these Baroque devices is more to me than just personal preference, but act as distinct characteristics of an imminent cultural aesthetic revolution. Equipped with only history to deduce our present state, it is necessary to examine our past in order to envision our future.

Architect and art historian Robert Venturi was one of the first to realize the transition of Modernism to Post-Modernism as a direct imitation of the Renaissance's evolution to Mannerism. Venturi urged his contemporaries to reject the classical themes of Modernism for the ecclectic appropriation associated with Mannerism and, now, Post-Modernism and Pop Art. Even though I am predisposed and naturally biased toward's Wolfflin's Baroque style, I believe artists today should also take their queue and embrace the Baroque values as their present heir to Post-Modernism. With the oncoming of the information age, we are now seeing a re-hellinization of the world as we know it. Accordingly, with the turn of the century and new millenium a Post-Post-Modern age should eventually look forward towards a Neo-Baroque era as its beacon.

Over seventy-five years ago a revolution in physics occured that required scientists to completely reevaluate the way we look at everyday reality. The birth of the twentieth century was ushered in along with the seminal ideas that fatherd both the theories of relativity as well as the quantum theory.

"Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together" "art is the conjuring of absences." "exaggerating the essential and leaving the obvious vague."



Thomas Cummins art philosophy