Activist art

What are your thoughts on activist art--that is, politically-themed, social-justice-oriented, and/or resistance art? 

This is a tough category for me. On the one hand, when it's done well, I'm really into it. I love art that tells a story and makes you think, and this genre definitely does that. I've always felt strongly about several social justice issues, even more so over the past year. And I've seen many of those themes beautifully or strikingly depicted in art. On the other hand, when it comes to actually buying art, it's hard for me to imagine hanging these pieces in my home. I know I'm lucky to have been born into a privileged life in so many ways, and absolutely do not want to ignore the sad realities that others must face on a daily basis: racism, xenophobia, war, human trafficking, prejudice, poverty, abuse, the list goes on and on. I want to be reminded of the inequities in my country and the world, so I can fight them--but actually hanging those reminders on my walls feels like a step to far for me. (And in terms of resistance art, no matter what I think about the quality of the piece or its commentary, I cannot fathom having the likeness of 45 on my walls. No way, no how.)

All that being said, there are some artists who do amazing things in this genre. Here are a handful that have stood out to me:

Joel Innovinci Ulmer  Untitled VI  [Price on Request]

Joel Innovinci Ulmer Untitled VI [Price on Request]

Natalia Anciso  Migra  [$850]

Natalia Anciso Migra [$850]

Ben Tankard  Art of the Deal  [$1500AU]

Ben Tankard Art of the Deal [$1500AU]

Michael Fischer Keller  Lift Them Up  diptych [$15,000]

Michael Fischer Keller Lift Them Up diptych [$15,000]

Marni Manning  Stand for Something  [$250]

Marni Manning Stand for Something [$250]

Beverly Ryan  Dante's Drones  [$5000]

Beverly Ryan Dante's Drones [$5000]

Any of you have activist art in your homes? Where do you display it? What do you look for in those pieces? Do you have other activist artists you recommend?  

Am I an art collector?

One of my first assignments as an English major was to work with my classmates to define "literature." Everyone can agree that Shakespeare and Dickens and Faulkner qualify, of course, but once you get away from the canon, it starts to get fuzzier. Is Harry Potter literature? I vote yes, but not everyone agrees. Is 50 Shades of Gray literature? I vote no, but again, not everyone agrees.

I can't remember what we ultimately decided or even whether we agreed, but I feel like it was a worthwhile thought exercise and a good starting point for this blog.  At what point does someone qualify as an "art collector"?

Willem van Haecht - Collection of Cornelis de Geest with Paracelsus

Willem van Haecht - Collection of Cornelis de Geest with Paracelsus

Some times it's obvious. Willem van Haecht's Collection of Cornelis de Geest wirh Paracelsus clearly depicts a legit collection. This Cornelis de Geest fellow, a Belgium spice merchant who was was committed to patronizing local artists, definitely made the cut.

Art collection of Antoine de Galbert via  Vimeo

Art collection of Antoine de Galbert via Vimeo

So too does Frenchman Antoine de Galbert-Defforey, whose contemporary collection is featured in part above. He is an art collector for sure.

If you have works by artists that are featured in art history textbooks or in museums, you undeniably qualify, right? If you have a collection of pieces assessed to be worth tens of thousands of dollars each (or more), you're a shoe-in to the art collectors club, too, amirite?  But surely the bar isn't that high for everyone?

For the purposes of this blog, my personal definition is as follows:

Art collector: One who owns original works of art, limited-edition art prints, and/or fine-art photography and continues to add to his or her collection.

That's it. If you own art and you continue to seek out more art, then you're an art collector. Do the pieces have to be from famous artists? God, no. Do you even need to know who the artist is? Nope, though I imagine lots of collectors like to know the story behind a piece and its creator. What if some of the pieces in your collection are original but some are mass-produced prints? You still make the cut, as far as I'm concerned, especially if you're committed to the second part of my definition--continually looking to grow and improve your collection. 

Collectors, what do you think? Do you agree with my definition? Am I missing something? I welcome debate!