Black Velvet Art by Eric A. Eliason

By Eric A. Eliason

Jesus, matadors, panthers, bandits, Indians, motion picture stars, waifs, and, after all, Elvis are famous icons of the oft-despised, uber-kitsch artwork type of black velvet portray. In Black Velvet Art writer Eric A. Eliason and photographer Scott Squire current a complete review of this covertly-loved and overtly-reviled tradition.

In cooperation with a community of artists, creditors, importers, and gallery vendors in Tijuana, l. a., Seattle, and Calgary, this ebook attracts from the most important survey of velvet portray ever undertaken. The ebook lines velvet's ancient improvement as a folks paintings formed by means of either indigenous traditions in addition to Western client expectancies in such markets because the South Pacific, Southeast Asia, and especially the U.S./Mexico border and the black velvet capital of Tijuana. In black velvet, classification and flavor problem artwork as a client phenomenon, democratic spirit faces down elitism, replica questions originality, and sexuality seduces and provokes religiosity.

What is most vital approximately black velvet paintings to many americans is its signaling of the nadir of undesirable style. Black velvet is the ''anti-art'' in lots of methods. Eliason seeks to discover how and why black velvet serves this functionality and to check methods it merits a gleaming redemption.

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64 But is black velvet really kitsch or is it something different? Unlike the kind of “priceless,” “handcrafted” figurines one finds hawked in the back-page ads of Sunday newspaper magazine supplements that Jeff Koons parodies, black velvet may not actually meet the classic understanding of kitsch. When looked at closely, it may prove more difficult to ironically appropriate. 65 Black velvet is as unpretentious as art forms get, and the driving reasons for its continued generation are personal aesthetic ones.

Indd 17 10/20/10 2:01 PM Few would mistake black velvet with Hudson River work. And while velvet landscapes show occasional local flavor—Mexican cacti and Pacific palms, for example—both traditions largely conform to what seems to be the universal desire for not just landscape, but a specific kind of landscape that shows little variation whether one lives in the arctic or the desert. To be most universally attractive, landscape scenes should depict the following features:6 • The preferred colors of natural “sky and water blues” and the greens of plants.

The biggest obstacle to such a shift would be that if through some miracle— or calamity, depending on your point of view— black velvet were suddenly boosted into cool, something else would have to take its place as the iconic antiart. Yet, velvet fulfills this role perfectly. It does so through the workings of a simple snobbery that reveals itself in the very relegation of a whole artistic tradition to pariah status. ”70 If an art form available to unsophisticated people because of its low cost and Third World mass manufacture gets relegated to trash or joke status, middleclass folks of “good taste” merely need to studiously avoid it and adopt the right attitude towards it to take comfort that we are not like them without having to say anything directly unpleasant about poor people.

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