I had intended to take on the sticky issue of "High" art versus "Low" art today, but I smashed my thumb working in the back yard and typing is more laborious than usual. As such, i'll try to let the pictures do my typing for me.
"High" art and "Low" art is a concept which one may approach from a dozen angles. Economically (art for the rich and art for the poor) Esthetically (beautiful art and ugly art) Intellectually (smart and dumb) Compositionally (both in materials used to compose AND how the object is positioned)...by Audience (art for the elite and art for the masses) Scarcity (rare versus common, or a diamond versus "THE BEDAZZLER") Paintings versus comics, fine versus primitive, trained versus untrained, erotic versus pornographic, insider versus outsider, decorative versus functional, fine versus folk...All those and I'm only starting my coffee.
The concept implies a cultural stratification and indicates social identification. I suppose I lean towards low...being a common man myself. If you've followed the 6 months of my blog, that my taste runs right down the stairs to the artistic basement should be obvious. I like my music scratchy, my clothes worn and my fiction trashy.
A pair of images here to illustrate. Two elks. Both representations of the same animal. Both from roughly the same time period. One is "better" by even the most generous standards of high versus low... and it is most certainly BIGGER...note tiny, tiny fat man in between white elk's hoofs. (he is also an "elk" by the way...in that he is a member of a fraternal organization, hence the title of the card) But is the rag-tag, make-do stump art Elk shown less real? Less valid? Less important? Less pleasing? Nah. They're both great.
The most valuable "non-academic" folk art weathervanes were manufactured and forged. The most "interesting" folk art weathervanes were made by hand from materials around the farm. Both told the direction of the wind.
Pair of Real Photo postcards "The Two Largest Elks at Carnival Fulton N.Y." and "The Elk?" both circa 1910-1930. Collection Jim Linderman