Just a small insight into the female icon that is Vivienne Westwood! Infamous in both the fashion and music industry, Vivienne Westwood is also renowned for being unconventional, increasingly out-spoken and a woman who is unafraid of confrontation. Always provocative and forever controversial, she is recognised, respected and admired all the world over. A prominent political activist, Westwood has made a point of challenging those who consider themselves to be ‘artists’ with statements such as “We don’t have any artists today, they don’t have any vision what so ever!” She also maintains that there is no longer any true form of culture considering our social, economic and political climate.
Intrigued by such bold statements and expressed views, I have taken the time to look into them a little deeper… From the lectures presented, talks and interviews Westwood communicates that it is art that gives culture and in her mind there isn’t any art being produced in contemporary society that has the effect of doing this. Reflecting on consumerism throughout the twentieth and twenty-first century and the fact that we are essentially destroying the planet, Westwood argues that if we did in fact have culture then our current environment, our social, economic and political landscape would be significantly different!
Westwood is keen to highlight the interpersonal dynamic that is required in order for art to become culture. It is on this premise that she describes culture as being “alive.” Westwood suggests that art itself does not have any value and that in isolation it simply cannot become part of our culture. It is only when a piece of art has a relationship and becomes connected with people that it takes on some form of meaning or value. Only when a number of people appreciate and share value in art does it then become part of our culture. Drawing on the works of Matthew Arnold, Westwood defines culture as “A pursuit of our total perfection by means of getting to know, on all the matters which most concern us, the best which has been thought and said in the world; and through this knowledge, turning a stream of fresh and free thought upon our stock notions and habits…” It is for this very reason that she encourages people to act and not be complacent, always projecting our “best self” by following our “deep curiosity” in an effort to understand the world around us.
Westwood has openly criticised the band ‘Pink Floyd’ for promoting “We don’t need no education!” Although she does intimate that the onus is on the individual to read and learn, to seek out new information and increase knowledge. A personal responsibility to interact with academia as well as attending exhibitions and galleries in order to observe art. Westwood feels that only then can we fully comprehend the society in which we operate, stating that “If we understand the past then we will understand the world we live in… For this reason I consider the art lover to be a freedom fighter for a better world!”
So the question is, are there any true artists out there? What do you think about the arguments proposed by Vivienne Westwood? How do you feel about the idea that anyone can be an artist? Naturally it begs the question as to what is art? Do you think that real art is or should be limited to drawing or painting? How do you feel about art and culture? Would you consider yourself to be an art lover? Always intrigued and forever curious, I would love to hear what you think about all of this? Drop me a line.