In the process, there is no room for handwringing about originality; it is simply assumed that it will result from synthesis and recombination. And if it doesn’t, well, isn’t that just as interesting?
It begins by discussing abstract art and its pioneers in the 20th century, mentioning the philosophies of Cubists, Abstract Expressionists, and Minimalists in particular, saying "in the competitive maelstrom of 20th century art, those philosophies became dogmas, and the dogmas outright manifestos. In the new century, many abstract painters are saying goodbye to all that didactic thinking and exuding a kind of calculated tentativeness."
I'm not going to summarize the thing, because it's really worth your time, but it essentially discusses how contemporary abstraction in particular now displays (or it did in 2011, anyway) an overall concern with the imperfect and the "not-quite-right," and many contemporary artists are abandoning the structures and strategies taught in art school for more "playful, unpredictable encounters." Butler writes that the things artists are taught in 2D foundation courses are now being reassessed in order to discover "unexpected outcomes over handsome results."
Dashing our expectations of “good painting,” painters like Martin Bromirski, Patricia Trieb, Patrick Brennan, Jered Sprecher, and Keltie Ferris have challenged their validity and thus moved painting in a direction that requires a different way of looking. If a painting seems lousy, perhaps with a poorly constructed support and amateurish paint handling, look again.
I have been asked by those who are not painters, "Is that a good painting?" as they point to complex and confusing canvases. Often I do not know how to respond, other than by asking them how they define "good painting," and by doing so they end up answering their own question based on their own criteria. (Either that or I ask, "Is it copping out to say it's all relative?" Commence friends' eye-rolling.) Suffice it to say I would like to revisit those paintings and respond to their question again as a do-over, keeping this article in mind and looking at the works with fresh eyes and a new perspective. Things I have been taught to avoid as a "fine" painter-- visible staples on the canvas edge, drastically- thinned paint, awkward or messy compositions, or even leaving a work incomplete-- are now acceptable, even relevant.
I have a lot of thinking to do.
This leads to a broader question about art in general. What makes it "good" and what doesn't? If you are an artist, what kinds of criteria do you keep for your work? Sharon Butler writes, "If the viewer leaves a show of their paintings agitated by their abrupt shifts, their crosscurrents, and their purposeful lack of formal cohesion, the work has succeeded. " How do you decide when your work has succeeded?