How can intention be more important than content?
There will no doubt always be differences in opinion on this matter. For some the touch of the artists’ hand/brush/pencil/etc. is the pure essence of creativity. But for others it is the artists’ thought/idea/concept/etc. that is more important. Conceptual art does tend to favour the latter, but not always. Many performance artists and their followers would argue that only the artist with the idea can deliver the performance. However, it is interesting to note that in Marina Abromovic’s recent exhibition The Artist Is Present at MoMA, her current performance was accompanied by a horde of artists recreating her performances from decades ago. Performance art is often defined by its not being acting, i.e. people pretending to be characters in a play or film. That is a fair point, but that doesn’t mean that another artist cannot have the same intention when re-performing someone else’s work. The very nature of the performance, such as Abromovic’s would be difficult to reenact without that same intention.
Another way of looking at it is that artists have the ability to think of the ideas but not necessarily the means to create the physical work. Is it really any different to an architect like Frank Gehry designing the Guggenheim Bilbao, and then being expected to build it himself? When traditional art forms such as painting and drawing are left behind, and scale and form are only limited by the artists imagination, then the expectation of the artists’ hand always being present is no longer always plausible. As was noted in an earlier post many of the grand works of old were the result of many hands. Some contemporary art work is on such a scale, and involving so many technicians, that the role of the artist is much like a director of a play or film. But it is not necessary for it be a case of either/or, but rather of both/and, that is that contemporary art can incorporate everything form the traditional to the experimental.
If artists are to be limited to only producing that which they can themselves do, then the world would be a poorer place. The artists ability to observe and reinterpret the world over and over in ever increasing scale and content is wonderful! Technology and materials have changed enormously over the past hundred years or so, and it is often artists that are at the forefront of these new forms. To use Gehry as an example again, when talking about Guggenheim Bilbao, he has observed that his ideas were around long before the technology was that could create them. There is a proliferation of amazing art and architecture all around the world now, that is the result of imagination now having the means to create in reality.