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Thread: What Role Does "Skill" Play When Evaluating Music?

  1. #226
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    It may be relevant to mention that even the finest portrait painters in history - John Singer Sargent being a prime example - tended to regard portraiture as a lesser form of art, a commercial necessity which required a maximum of painterly skill but a minimum of imagination. Most of them (including Gainsborough, I believe) would rather have been out in the field doing watercolor landscapes than sitting in his dingy studio across from the pasty-faced, silk-and-lace furbelowed Lady Hermione Wallingford-Snoot and her unruly brood of brats.
    Yet the greatest of them all - Rembrandt - sure could paint a portrait! I doubt whether he would’ve agreed.

  2. #227
    Senior Member MacLeod's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveM View Post
    I took the trouble to list all the pertinent posts above that show how there was only one poster (EY) in that group who gave some deference, however little, to Gainsborough’s skills and you are purposely ignoring them.
    Not at all. Not one of them dismissed Gainsborough as a painter. They dismissed the specific painting. You didn't include my comment that actually recognised his skill - so I'm not in the little group you have a thing about.

    Quote Originally Posted by DaveM View Post
    You have this habit of throwing out things off the top of your head and coming to conclusions without substance. It’s really annoying.
    Do I? Oh well, that's my posting style. Shall I comment on yours?

    Quote Originally Posted by DaveM View Post
    Do you have special knowledge that that is a poor example of his work? Have you seen that painting in person? I have.
    Oh, yes, very special . No, I've not seen that painting in person, but that seems to me irrelevant. There are others that, IMO, better showcase his skills which I've seen in person - such as Mr and Mrs Andrews.

    And then this one's not bad either...Thom is quite an abel painter really!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas...insborough.jpg
    Last edited by MacLeod; Oct-07-2019 at 08:06.
    "I left TC for a hiatus, but since no-one noticed my absence, I came back again."

  3. #228
    Senior Member Enthusiast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveM View Post
    It was not clear at all. Since you were apparently elected by your group or self-appointed as spokesman, the group should pick a new one. You didn’t go back and check that thread did you.
    Now you've lost me, DaveM. Firstly, I'm not a member of any group and we don't have secret meetings to elect spokespeople! Technically (objectively) that is a slightly paranoid suggestion on your part. I'm an individual participating in a discussion thread. But, aside from that, you accuse me of not going back through the thread for evidence that we were all expressing subjective preferences. I suppose the part you object to was

    It was clear (surely?) that all were aware of the evident objective skill on the part of Gainsborough.
    even though none of us expressed this "knowledge". I think we all recognise that Gainsborough had portrayed a person and various objects in a fairly accurate and realistic way. I think we all recognised that this was (objectively) the manifestation of a skill. Did we have to say this? Can you really believe that, because we didn't express it, it must be that we hadn't noticed it? Of course, if I had recognised that the activity that seemed like a game was in fact an interrogation by a Kafka-esque investigator then I would have been more careful. But I thought better of you than that.

    Then you suggest that none of us had in our minds the suspicion (it was more like a certainty) that you were playing a well-natured trick:

    Quote Originally Posted by DaveM View Post
    Not true either. These are the posts from your group that followed. Only one, EY, gave some deference to the objective accomplishment of Gainsborough, but even that post was more damning with faint praise. The initial posts show no evidence that ‘we all knew that there probably was a trick’.
    We posted different opinions - so much for the idea that we have been acting as a secret society. But what if everyone had taken the comparison as a serious one between two acknowledged masters? Would that have mattered in the context of the question being asked? In the quotes you provide the opinions expressed by three posters (including me) were clearly and openly subjective. EY narrowly chose the Gainsborough for an objective quality. He expressed this preference grudgingly (he didn't like either work) but you seem to think he should have been full of praise (for that ugly painting!) and to find it significant that he wasn't? SM rejected the premise of the game. What more can you get from our posts if you read them as serious attempts at being art critics instead of as a playful chance to demonstrate the view we (separately and without any hidden collaboration!) were discussing?

    But I think we all did recognise that a trick was being played - who watching would not have done? - and you have posted nothing that demonstrates that this might not have been the case. The "suspicion" had been posted by (I think) science and I had replied to that (I responded light-heartedly that it was too good to be a child's painting - an almost objective view that I still hold). The spirit of the thing seemed to me (and, I suspect, others) as a pleasant game. Did you really think - given our knowledge of your posting style and the position you were arguing for - that we all took it for a serious comparison of work by painters of equal stature? It is a little disappointing now to realise that you genuinely expected that rather than that it would be taken for a fun game.

  4. #229
    Senior Member Blancrocher's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveM View Post
    I will say that I’ve seen this painting and other Gainsboroughs, including the famous The Blue Boy, several times and contrary to woodduck’s view, people viewing the musician painting in question -and incidentally, Gainsborough’s other works- look on these works in wonderment. ‘In person’ they are nothing short of magnificent and are the crown jewels of the museum they are in.
    I've seen the paintings in person as well. The case of the Blue Boy is perhaps interesting in the light of previous discussions of rules and skill. If Wikipedia can be believed, it is Gainsborough's refutation, in a sense, of a compositional principle laid down by Joshua Reynolds. It's a striking portrait, of course, but it takes on added interest if one reads an informative panel put at some distance from the canvas (a modern invention). Modern music—the most famous examples, at any rate—often has this quality of systematically interrogating a single rule or convention, sometimes enlarging musicians' conception of what can be done with sound. At the least, an avant garde or experimental work, if it is truly original, can take on interest as an event in the history of music.
    Last edited by Blancrocher; Oct-07-2019 at 10:01.

  5. #230
    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveM View Post
    The folly is not appreciating obvious skill whether you like an artwork or not. The inability or unwillingness to acknowledge the artwork of someone who has a skill that relatively few other humans have, skill fine-honed over a lifetime is either ignorance or some sort of haughty stubbornness that I do not understand.

    Given the environment in which I grew up where obvious talent and skill, whether composers, sculptors or artists, were appreciated and not diminished -whether a work was one’s preference or not- this sort of attitude in this and the preceding thread is foreign to me. I’ve never come across it elsewhere either. I can’t help but think that members of -what I hope is- just this little group have never given this subject much thought in the past and are making it up as they go along.
    I sense here a temptation to raise up artisanship--craft--expertise--"skill"--into a substitute for an appreciation of living, breathing Art. I will be happy to occasionally provide examples of great skill of execution lavished upon minutiae, or kitsch, or the long-exhausted, and will await efforts to "explain" the resulting work by those evoking the artists' hidden agendas, as culled from the writings of critics anxious to redeem both the art so produced and the reputation of its creators: "It was done with great skill!". And so I too will acknowledge "appreciating obvious skill" whether I like an artwork or not.

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  7. #231
    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres: Jupiter and Thetis:

    image.jpeg

  8. #232
    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    The Ingres above shows incredible skill, yet is utterly dead (in my opinion). Here is another bit of mythology, Siegfried and the Rhinemaidens by Albert Pinkham Ryder. Ingres could paint circles around Ryder, yet.......

    image.jpeg
    Last edited by Strange Magic; Oct-07-2019 at 13:06.

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  10. #233
    Senior Member Enthusiast's Avatar
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    A well made point! The Ingres is truly horrible!

  11. #234
    Senior Member DaveM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacLeod View Post
    No, I've not seen that painting in person, but that seems to me irrelevant.
    It is relevant when it includes history and evaluation of the painting by on-site experts which I mentioned and you ignored. Do you continue to ignore things in black and white because they don’t support what you’re about to post?

  12. #235
    Senior Member DaveM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange Magic View Post
    I sense here a temptation to raise up artisanship--craft--expertise--"skill"--into a substitute for an appreciation of living, breathing Art. I will be happy to occasionally provide examples of great skill of execution lavished upon minutiae, or kitsch, or the long-exhausted, and will await efforts to "explain" the resulting work by those evoking the artists' hidden agendas, as culled from the writings of critics anxious to redeem both the art so produced and the reputation of its creators: "It was done with great skill!". And so I too will acknowledge "appreciating obvious skill" whether I like an artwork or not.
    Re: the last sentence: Good for you and I mean it! If memory serves that is your first real acknowledgement that ‘obvious skill’ is an important factor in the quality of artworks.

    As for your first statement, nothing could be further from the truth, at least as far as I’m concerned. The reason why my emphasis has been on skill and craftsmanship is because of posts such as the below. You have maintained a very polarized position which IMO has polarized the discussion as a reaction. Perhaps your post above indicates some moderation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Strange Magic View Post
    ... This has nothing to do with the inherently subjective nature of our opinions about art, "greatness" in art, "masterpieces", etc. The fact remains that value in art is opinion, neither more nor less. And the corollary, for me, is that all aesthetics is subjective, individual, and personal.
    Quote Originally Posted by Strange Magic View Post
    It cannot be demonstrated that one piece of art is intrinsically better than another...
    Regarding the two paintings you just posted, you seem to be making a value judgment about them which would conflict with your post above.
    Last edited by DaveM; Oct-07-2019 at 19:27.

  13. #236
    Senior Member DaveM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blancrocher View Post
    I've seen the paintings in person as well. The case of the Blue Boy is perhaps interesting in the light of previous discussions of rules and skill. If Wikipedia can be believed, it is Gainsborough's refutation, in a sense, of a compositional principle laid down by Joshua Reynolds. It's a striking portrait, of course, but it takes on added interest if one reads an informative panel put at some distance from the canvas (a modern invention). Modern music—the most famous examples, at any rate—often has this quality of systematically interrogating a single rule or convention, sometimes enlarging musicians' conception of what can be done with sound. At the least, an avant garde or experimental work, if it is truly original, can take on interest as an event in the history of music.
    I’m having trouble with the last sentence, but it’s an interesting perspective.

  14. #237
    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveM View Post
    Re: the last sentence: Good for you and I mean it! If memory serves that is your first real acknowledgement that ‘obvious skill’ is an important factor in the quality of artworks.

    As for your first statement, nothing could be further from the truth, at least as far as I’m concerned. The reason why my emphasis has been on skill and craftsmanship is because of posts such as the below. You have maintained a very polarized position which IMO has polarized the discussion as a reaction. Perhaps your post above indicates some moderation.

    Regarding the two paintings you just posted, you seem to be making a value judgment about them which would conflict with your post above.
    Alas! It seems I have failed completely to have you understand my position.

    First: "Obvious skill" is not necessarily an important factor in the quality of artworks. It may be a factor in some artworks. It is often on conspicuous display in many ghastly artworks. In other words, the circles of "obvious skill" and "great (in my opinion) artworks" only sometimes overlap. But, as I stated, I am happy to acknowledge skill as skill; there is no expressed or implied judgement of artistic greatness or merit.

    Second: I constantly am making my own value judgements on artworks, as we all are, I should think. What is different is my insistence upon the primacy and validity of my assessments, overriding the contrary opinions of anyone else commenting on the piece. I absolutely prefer Ryder to Ingres in virtually every instance when the two painters are contemplated concurrently. And I offer to you and others the very same power and mastery that I grant to myself. The fact that all aesthetics is opinion and that no art can be demonstrated to be intrinsically better than another grants me that power and mastery.
    Last edited by Strange Magic; Oct-07-2019 at 20:41.

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  16. #238
    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    Le Pétomane: An example of great skill in a Performing Art.....

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le_P%C3%A9tomane

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  18. #239
    Senior Member DaveM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange Magic View Post
    Alas! It seems I have failed completely to have you understand my position.

    First: "Obvious skill" is not necessarily an important factor in the quality of artworks. It may be a factor in some artworks... The fact that all aesthetics is opinion and that no art can be demonstrated to be intrinsically better than another grants me that power and mastery.
    Okay, I was mistaken. You’re just as polarized as I originally assumed. So a Beethoven does not have obvious skill that is an important factor in the quality of his works. He might as well be a Gustav Lange because his works are not intrinsically better.
    Last edited by DaveM; Oct-07-2019 at 21:24.

  19. #240
    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveM View Post
    Okay, I was mistaken. You’re just as polarized as I originally assumed. So a Beethoven does not have obvious skill that is an important factor in the quality of his works. He might as well be a Gustav Lange because his works are not intrinsically better.
    I have no recollection of stating anywhere that Beethoven does not have "obvious skill" that is or may be an important factor in the quality of his work. Why insist that I posted thus? Beethoven has lots of skill; I am a big fan of Beethoven's music, though I prefer Brahms.
    Last edited by Strange Magic; Oct-07-2019 at 22:08.

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