Posted in Contextual Studies

Taste, Value, Judgement

Taste refers to a cultural pattern of choice, a social/cultural phenomenon. It is about drawing distinctions between things. Social inquiry of taste is about the human ability to judge what is beautiful.

Taste often makes it possible to identify particular types of class taste. For example, lower classes are often not able to appreciate the luxury of art as they are usually unable to afford this connection. Following this, tv shows like Cash in the Attic and Antiques Roadshow are classically more higher class, are well spoken and filmed on grand locations which ultimately makes the shows more appealing to wealthier people who can connect with this lifestyle. Does an emotional attachment or memory make something more valuable or is value linked to monetary characteristics?

Brian Sewell is an English art critic and media personality. He insulted public for views on art as he hated contemporary art. He has been quoted saying “Banksy should have been put down at birth” and that Damien Hirst was “fucking dreadful”. But who defines the perimeters of fine taste?

Aethetics concern the study or rules and principals of art. Take for example the Mona Lisa piece. It has been reproduced several times into different products making it so well known. In 1936, Walter Benjamin wrote The Aura of The Original. He states how reproductions of work “lack the time and space” which diminishes the value of the original. However, in some ways I think this makes the original a more rare piece which becomes more of an appeal for the audience to find making it more valuable as it gains more respect.

iphone-4s-elite-close2There have been reports of a dog collar costing $3.2 million, and a  barbie at $551,000. There was also an iPhone 4S elite gold which was sold for $9.4 million. Does this make the product valuable? I think this is obscene and a test on how far people can push items for the greed of money. On the other side of that, Marilyn Monroe’s dress from JFKs birthday sold for $1,267,500 in 1999, however Robert Shargen regarded it a steal. I think that an  emotional attachment, a memory, or iconic history makes something more valuable compared to monetary characteristics.

Does money value mean value? “What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing”. Oscar Wilde’s quote highlights an important point. It raises the question of if people buy things for investments and commerce or to be able to keep the item out of appreciation towards it. It also questions if people understand the concept and value behind the item being bought, which ultimately could link back to class, and how different statuses of class are able to appreciate things more based on financial income. So maybe value is based on money, as the more valuable items can only be bought by wealthier people, people from the lower class may not be as bothered to understand concepts and value as they cant afford to.

Bob Carlos Clarke was born in Cork, Ireland in 1950, and came to England in 1964 to study art and design at The West Sussex College of Art where he developed an interest in photography. He then went on to The London College of Printing, before completing his degree at the Royal College of Art in 1975. He is most famous for his photographs of nudity. Is his work tasteful? In my opinion it completely objectifies women, making them pose to sexualise them and gather attention. His images are erotic and more about passion and sex. However bad people make think this is, it’s always striking and always gathers a reaction which could arguably be the reason he was so successful. Clarke admits that he entered nude photography for one reason alone: sex, which is evident in the nature of his images. He was always delighted by criticism. “I want to supercharge sexuality beyond what is actually achievable. I want to connect with Man’s animal instincts”. His work was heavily influenced by lust to turn men on. Although highly promiscuous, there is something intriguingly beautiful about his work. I think he would be highly valuable to the LGBT society as he isn’t afraid to hide the sexuality of the models and exploit same gender sexual relationships.

Edward Henry Weston was born March 24, 1886, in Highland Park, Illinois.  He spent the majority of his childhood in Chicago where he attended Oakland Grammar School. He began photographing at the age of sixteen. Realizing the need for formal training, in 1908 Weston returned east and attended the Illinois College of Photography in Effingham, Illinois. He completed the 12-month course in six months and returned to California. Weston said “the camera should be used for a recording of life, for rendering the very substance and quintessence of the thing itself, whether it be polished steel or palpitating flesh.” It is evident in his images that he celebrated such things as the body. He doesn’t focus on exposing the identity of the body or making the model more sexual, but focuses on the shapes of the body and the natural form of it, making it look more sculptural. This also links to the equality of everyone in terms of body and humanity. Like most nude photographers, the images are in black and white which adds delicacy and atmosphere, which ties in well with the softness and subtlety of the images. These images would seem to be more tasteful in the area of nudity compared to the work of Carlos Clarke as they are not so seductive and don’t pose the models as an object of sex.



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