Art Demonstrations vs the Meaning of Art

It has been said that contemporary art is about the statement or meaning of the art and not about the artist’s process and technique to create it.

I have also heard that artists’ need to be cautious about being seduced by their medium. This means that working with any one medium becomes more important than what the art is suppose to be about. That you are more interested to see what you can do with the medium.

Is it therefore fair to say that art process demonstrations given at a gallery demean the meaning of the art? Furthermore does it reduce the art to technique which takes attention from the idea and focus it squarely on the how-to?

I would really like to know what your thoughts on this are. All comments are welcome.




  1. In my experience the act of making art is a synergy of idea, medium, technique and passion. It is never simply about the idea, unless you’re Jeff Koons. And demonstrating does seem to inform people and help them to connect to both the artist and the work itself, it helps people understand what art is. On the other hand I wonder just how honest it is – I can’t paint and talk – so what people watching me demo are seeing is usually a speeded up and somewhat uncomfortable process. When I’m really working I need total focus, no distraction, and it sometimes looks pretty slow.

    But my personal process aside – I do think that anytime you can engage people in anything to do with art and art making it can only end up being a good thing.

    • Agreed Lori, any engagement is good. Our generation of artists have the unique opportunity that has never been afforded any other. It’s called the internet and through it our reach is global.

      By having a global reach we can inform and educate people about art. We can remove the mystic and make art approachable.

      Unless like you say, you’re Jeff Koons.

  2. I’ve attended workshop’s & demo’s that have helped me with technique and art business.
    But it really doesn’t get into an artist creative insight, inspirations etc.
    But I always think it helps to meet and interact with Artist. Helps to understand how real an Artist is as a person.

    • Your right Ann, sharing a technique doesn’t necessarily get one into the artists head unless it is explained in such a way. Like “I use this method of applying this medium because it reinforces the idea of….”

  3. This is kind of about the whole power dynamic of information isn’t it? Just like your work, Kim!

    I do not believe that people think more deeply about the meaning of a work of art when they don’t know how it was made. I believe we think more deeply about art – about anything – when we have some background knowledge.

    I think the statement/meaning of the art is not entirely separable from the process of how it’s made. An artist could be using any number of tools/mediums to get their message across, so the medium they have chosen does inform the meaning of the work.

    Seduced by a medium? Well… somehow that seems a bit of a distracting question. In my mind the question is whether or not there is some thoughtfulness behind the work. Giving a demonstration of technique will not diminish the thoughtfulness of the work, and may increase the thoughtfulness of one’s audience.

    • I really like the way you said that Verna, especially the last part – “Giving a demonstration of technique will not diminish the thoughtfulness of the work, and may increase the thoughtfulness of one’s audience.”

      The increase in the level of understanding of one’s work is deemed a success no matter how small.