Chocolate and Art

Chocolates (Photo credit: J. Paxon Reyes)

Chocolate, my brother assures me, is one of the five food groups. Hence essential for artists, but for art?

Do you remember the term “chocolate box” referring to art or photography? It usually referred to landscapes of Swiss mountains and lakes – imagine Heidi or The Sound of Music – or sentimental scenes of children. Wikipedia names Renoir as chocolate box because of his subject matter. It is a negative label, hinting at cloying sweetness or prettiness. Art can be that (depends on the viewer). For me, on its own, it’s not enough.

On the other hand, art can also be harsh and raw as in early works of Damien Hirst (again, depends on the viewer). For this, imagine a rotting cow’s head. Is that enough to make it art? It was certainly a great start to financially successful career.

Of course this is oversimplifying things – it is a holiday weekend! However, contemporary art is less likely to be simply “chocolate box” unless it is a satirical piece. If we are unsure while looking at an art work, I think it helps to know a bit more. What is the artist’s vision? What new insights are they offering us? If it feels uncomfortable to view, are they using shock tactics to alter our understanding or perspective? We don’t have to buy it after all. (Buying art, pricing and value are issues for later discussion).

So, is there a place for the chocolate box, even just as a retreat from the raw reality of a rotting cow’s head? What do you think?

(Would you mind passing those chocolates around please)?

5 thoughts on “Chocolate and Art

  1. Art works on many different levels and serves many different purposes. Yes, if the artist wants to take the viewer to somewhere beautiful then ‘chocolate box’ art can act in an inspirational, uplifting, relaxing, eye-opening way. Modern art doesn’t HAVE to be negative and art is no less ‘meaningful’ for reflecting on what is beautiful than what is ‘real’ or satirical.In fact there’s a very valid argument in saying that art should be uplifting, so it can take us out of the misery of life to somewhere better.

    1. Thanks for your comments Chocolate Dictionary. You remind me that we need uplifting inspirational art. I do tussle with this as in response to a grant application I was once advised to immerse myself in contemporary art. The immersion was not all happy!

  2. Sometimes I think that we all angst too much about art. It’s clean, intellectual fun to endlessly discuss the issues of art – what is and what isn’t art etc. But in the end a person makes art for reason x and a viewer likes or doesn’t like the art for reason y. And life goes on…Jasper Johns said that making art is to “take something and do something to it”. I say, to artist and to viewer – “suspend expectations”. My cat says, “feed me”.
    Thank you for your visit and comment at art rat cafe. I really like your paintings and thoughtful writings about art, so much so that I am now a Follower…

    1. Are we putting too many intellectual layers on art? I think what you are saying is basically, we should just get on with it! Good advice – it is as simple as that. I am thrilled that you are following my blog and will keep my eye on art rat cafe.

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