Art: “Hmms,” “Hmphs,” and “Ahas”

Andy Warhol was quoted as saying, “Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”  And since Twyla Tharp said, “Metaphor is the lifeblood of all art,” I’m taking an art history class this quarter to add some perspective to my health care business thinking (if you’re skeptical, you aren’t the first; using A Whole New Mind by Dan Pink as evidence I was able to get this reluctantly approved by the powers that be).  Classes like art history should become part of an MHA curriculum to inspire new approaches to health care’s tired problems.

Here’s the thing: art is difficult to interpret (this is my first foray into the effort), especially modern art (especially conceptual art).  There is a fine line between over-analysis and under-analysis.  Finding meaning isn’t always the easiest task, either.  But. That. Is. Exactly. The. Point.  This is challenging my thinking in a way it’s never been challenged.  It is definitely exciting (at least for the time being, a research paper is required for the final and my experience with art history research papers is slim, at best.)

But there is a relation between art and health care and business here.  Sitting in lecture and reading the necessities has provided more than a few “Hmms,” “Hmphs,” and “Ahas.”  Sol LeWitt‘s “Sentences on Conceptual Art” is the first extensively business-related reading we’ve had in the class.  The most thought-provoking metaphorical “sentences” appear below (many have been axed for various reasons) and a personal analysis of their meaning is encouraged (share in the comments if you would like):

2. Rational judgements repeat rational judgements.
3. Irrational judgements lead to new experience.
5. Irrational thoughts should be followed absolutely and logically.
6. If the artist changes his mind midway through the execution of the piece he compromises the result and repeats past results.
9. The concept and idea are different. The former implies a general direction while the latter is the component. Ideas implement the concept.
12. For each work of art that becomes physical there are many variations that do not.
13. The words of one artist to another may induce an idea chain, if they share the same concept.
19. The conventions of art are altered by works of art.
20. Successful art changes our understanding of the conventions by altering our perceptions.
21. Perception of ideas leads to new ideas.
24. Perception is subjective.
30. There are many elements involved in a work of art. The most important are the most obvious.
32. Banal ideas cannot be rescued by beautiful execution.

For some Friday entertainment (I can’t help but smile at this) here is a clip of John Baldessari singing LeWitt’s “Sentences:”


“…these sentences have been hidden too long in the pages of exhibition catalogs…”

Hopefully, they do some good here, too.

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