Kitsch: the good and the bad. Bonsai: art or kitsch?
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Author:  Walter Pall [ Fri Sep 01, 2006 3:46 pm ]
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I have revistited this thread with interest and amusement. So what has changend in the meanwhile? Nothing probably. The majority of bonsai are still kitsch. The 'real' art scene looks at bonai as kitsch and it is by definition anyway. They will never consider bonsai as serious art. Bonsai literature is still in the garden department of any library or book store. Bonsai exhibits are still in garden centers, botanical gardens, garden fairs. They are never in art galleries, certainly not in serious ones.
So nothing new here.
I have a dream:
How about if someone succeeded to get quite a few good bonsai into one of the most renowned galleries of contemporary art in the world? How about having an exhibit of sculptures and in addition bonsai as living sculptures in this art gallery? How about having a vernissage with rich clients and art critiques being invited to look at this what they thought was kitsch? How about if they liked it, even loved it? How about the bonsai being at eye level with world class sculptures of artists who have pieces in the Museum of Modern Art? How about both the sculpturer and the bonsai artist being present at the vernissage? I am dreaming here. How about if the most elitist audience finds almost more interest in the trees than in the sculptures? How about if the bonsai are not exhibited in the traditional bonsai setting but just as all the other sculptures? How about a few of the most importand editors of art magazines being present and they will even mention the trees in their report? How about an interview with the bonsai artist in one of the most renowned contemporatry art magazines? How about the tone of the interview being as if bonsai actually belonged there?
What do we think of such a dream? Will this ever happen? How long will it take until such a dream could come true? Will it happen if we continue doing what we are doing?
More dreams?

Author:  Attila Soos [ Fri Sep 01, 2006 4:09 pm ]
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If any of those dreams would become reality, that would be incredibly beautiful. All of a sudden, the price of a great bonsai would rise exponentially. And you, Walter would become an instant millionaire.
If bonsai would cross over in the realm of arts, being a bonsai artist would suddenly become a lucrative and "sexy" profession. The quality of bonsai around the world would vastly improve. A lot of money would be spent on building fences and alarm systems around bonsai nurseries. The new industry would bring billions of dollars into the economy, and the small nursery business would become profitable.
I think we are on the way towards this reality. It's a very slow change, but I believe that it will happen. The basis of my belief is that modern bonsai will break away from the old tradition. As soon as that happens, there is a strong chance that artists, such as sculptors, painters, etc., will become interested in bonsai.
This is a crucial condition: a widely recognized sculptor (or other artist) becomes interested in bonsai. Since everything that this man does is recognized as genuine art, his bonsai will also gain this recognition. And I am sure that his bonsai will be different from the rest. As soon as this happens, bonsai will cross over to the "other side". It will be the spark that starts the forest fire.

Author:  Will Heath [ Fri Sep 01, 2006 4:45 pm ]
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There was a "Seasons" Exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW in 2003 which exhibited bonsai on pedestals that the viewing audience could walk around. This was the first exhibit of bonsai in an art gallery that I know of, imagine it, bonsai displayed like and along side of accepted mediums of art. Unfortunately the link to that exhibition is no longer working.
So what do we need in order for bonsai to be accepted as main stream art? We all know that it hasn't reached that level yet, but why, what is missing?
    * Patrons of the arts, those collectors, supporters, and advocates of the arts that support and foster other art forms. Where are the people who purchase the art, who collect it, who set up scholarships and who exhibit bonsai as an art form? We ourselves are to blame for looking down upon those who collect bonsai as opposed to growing them when in fact, we should be supporting them and encouraging them.
    * Three dimensional bonsai. I know this is a hot topic but let's face it, when bonsai are finally displayed as art, I seriously doubt that they will be displayed as paintings are, flat up against a wall. Certainly this worked traditionally in Tokonoma, but the Tokonoma was meant for the home and not for public exhibit. As in the art gallery mentioned above, bonsai will be displayed as sculpture, that is what they actually are after all and sculpture is traditionally displayed on a pedestal that allows viewers to walk around it. In short, the "whole" bonsai must be a work of art, the parts make up the sum, only this will be appealing to audiences that are clueless as to exactly what angle they are supposed to view the bonsai at. When bonsai are displayed as art, it will not be pictures of the bonsai that are displayed, it will be the actual three dimensional bonsai that are.
    * Acceptance first must come from ourselves. With so many practitioners screaming craft, how can any outsiders take the art seriously? We first must accept bonsai as a valid art form and then present it as such.
    Why is AoB the only forum who presents bonsai as an art? Where are the glossy magazines that feature bonsai as an art form, why are they all about cultivating? Robert Steven and Jack Douthitt are the first authors that I know of to have published a book showcasing bonsai as an art form without including styling or cultivation sections. The reason bonsai books are in the gardening section of book stores is because all of them deal with growing and styling bonsai, the same reason how-to books on painting and sculpting are in the craft section.

These are some of the obstacles I see that are preventing bonsai from being recognized and accepted as a legitimate art form. Sadly, we are to blame.

Walter Pall wrote:
What do we think of such a dream?

Personally, I long for the dream, I work for the dream, and I pray that I live to see the dream become reality.


Author:  Walter Pall [ Sun Sep 03, 2006 12:46 pm ]
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OK, I accept the challenge. The aim is to get into one of the clearly most renowned art galleries in the world. With bonsai eye to eye with the 'real' art world.
So what are really renowned art galleries? Well I found one in Munich, Germany. It is called Terminus Galerie.
This will load extremely slowly, but if you are really interested you should wait. They feature a few dozen names. I am certainly not an expert in contemporary art, but I took those names of their list that I have heard of:
Baselitz Georg, Chamberlain John, Felipe de Antonio, Jones Allen, Kiefer Anselm, Lichtenstein Roy, Polke Sigmar, Ramos Mel, Rauschenberg Robert, Richter Gerhard, Rosenquist James, Saint Phalle Niki, Stella Frank, Vaadia Boaz, Warhol Andy.
I love Warhol Andy - in that order. See the full list of their artists on their website. As I understand this is one of the leading places in the world. They sell stuff in the hundreds of thousdands and million range. This would do for a start, I think.
What do you think? Megalomania? Think big? Shoot for the stars and you will reach the moon at least? Just plain silly? Forget it?
A good friend of mine who had connections in the art world in Germany tried to get his bonsai into art galleries in Dusseldorf, Germany. They laughed at him and said 'then we might as well exhibit garden dwarfs'. One has to know that garden dwarfs are the epitiome of kitsch; at least in Germany.
So what did he do wrong? Maybe he was not shooting high enough?
Am I crazy?

Author:  Will Heath [ Sun Sep 03, 2006 1:10 pm ]
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Yes, crazy like a fox.
Your timing is impeccable, with the new expansion of the gallery and the commitment to diversify, I could not think of a better time to attempt this.
This would be huge, achieving the aim to get into one of the world's most renowned art galleries and displaying bonsai eye to eye with the 'real' art world, would be a monumental and important step on the path to fine art!


Author:  Mark Rockwell [ Sun Sep 03, 2006 1:24 pm ]
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For the sake of argument, why is being accepted into the world of western art important for bonsai?
I understand the need and desire for recognition from the "legitimate" art world for our passtime, but would this really produce some kind of groundswell of better bonsai and greater bonsai artists?
Just wondering out loud...

Author:  Walter Pall [ Sun Sep 03, 2006 1:37 pm ]
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are you aware of what is going on with the leading western bonsai artists, with names that you would know? Are you aware that the overwhelming majority is NOT doing well? That many are living in what is considered poverty in 'real' life? That bonsai is about the last thing that a gifted young person should attempt to do for a living? That only people who should be psychoanalyzed become bonsai professionals?
And more of that crap.
How famous do you think one has to become to be able to make a living as bonsai artist? Do you think I am famous enough? Well, I could NOT make a living with bonsai.
Acceptance in the art world could change this situation considerably. It would bring in hoards of young ambitious people who would change the bosai scene completely. Nothing would be the same. Especially concerning quality.

Author:  Walter Pall [ Sun Sep 03, 2006 4:15 pm ]
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OK, go to:
and then to 'PROGRAM' and then to 'CURRENT EXHIBIT' and scroll down the text about Boaz Vaadia to the very end.
A surprise is waiting for you there.
The links were changed by the gallery later on after the fact. So you will not find the announcement anymore. It said that this exhibit with works of Boaz Vadia is accompanied with bonsai by Walter Pall.

Author:  Carl Bergstrom [ Sun Sep 03, 2006 5:08 pm ]
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Walter Pall wrote:
OK, go to:
and then to 'PROGRAM' and then to 'CURRENT EXHIBIT' and scroll down the text about Boaz Vaadia to the very end.
A surprise is waiting for you there.

Oh man --- Walter, that's fantastic. I'm sitting here grinning like nothing else. This is very, very good news for bonsai as art. Congratulations, but more importantly, thank you! I'll look forward to hearing all about the show and about the reception that your work receives.'d you do it?
With my best regards,

Author:  Attila Soos [ Sun Sep 03, 2006 5:10 pm ]
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Good lord Walter, you really did it!
And are proving to everyone that if you believe in it, it will happen.
This must have a serious effect on the audience, as to their views on what bonsai is about. I am very excited.
I hope you will be able to listen to what the "art crowd" has to say about bonsai's place in the exhibit. It will be a revelation.

Author:  Dorothy Schmitz [ Sun Sep 03, 2006 9:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re:

Walter Pall wrote:
OK, go to:
and then to 'PROGRAM' and then to 'CURRENT EXHIBIT' and scroll down the text about Boaz Vaadia to the very end.
A surprise is waiting for you there.

Thumbs up!!Great opportunity!
Actually my brother is an artist.He is a surrealistic painter
and lives in Berchtesgaden.His paintings are exhibited in
a gallery.
He achieved the highest price ever spent in Hungary on one of his paintings.His name is "Milos".
Best regards,
Dorothy Schmitz

Author:  Walter Pall [ Sun Sep 03, 2006 10:00 pm ]
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Thank you all for the good wishes. Today is the 'pre-vernissage'. Tomorrow the official vernissage.
Today is the day of the chosen ones, the day of people who are real colectors of contemporary art. Anyway the people who can afford the big works of the big art names.
Tomorrow is the vernissage for 'regular' folks. But strictly by invitation only. This is still going to be a quite esteemed crowd. Also journalists and art critiques will be there.
Not a single person from the bonsai scene is invited. The audience on both days will come from all over Europe and also from abroad.
I was asked to be present on both evenings, wearing dark suit and tie. Well, I found my tie again.
Boaz Vaadia and I will be available for discussing and explaining things. I have this strange feeling that lots of people will speak more about the trees than the sculptures. Probably the ladies will want to know everything. Yes, I am really looking forward to hear what they think about bonsai right there.
When I said to the gallery owner that I will have to be careful to not take away too much attention from the sculptures he said 'don't worry, half of them are sold already'.
I cannot sleep.
I will do some research about your brother.

Author:  Will Heath [ Sun Sep 03, 2006 10:11 pm ]
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Yep, crazy like a fox alright.
Walter, I can't wait to see the pictures of this event, it is historical and deserves to be presented as such.
I also imagine that reviews of the show will be written in the local newspapers as well as the art journals, these would be priceless on display along with the pictures.
Congratulations Walter, this is quite an accomplishment!
Today the art of bonsai took a step forward.


Author:  Walter Pall [ Tue Sep 05, 2006 8:38 am ]
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Go to KoB to see what happened then:

Author:  Mark Rockwell [ Wed Sep 06, 2006 9:33 am ]
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Is it me, or can anyone else not see the pics at the KOB site?

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