What people don’t know about ‘happy art’

By sculptor Allen Wynn
Seen in Santa Fe, NM today

An artist I met on this epic summer art trek denigrated happy art. This way:

I no longer do happy paintings.

Like it was an evolution above kitsch. As though happy art is something lesser. 
Yet when I think back on the sweep of art history it’s the happy-icity of this past century’s exploration that feels like a casting off of chains.
I can’t think of Matisse or Picasso without feeling surging freedom. The kind of freedom from constraints that comes from those who are ecstatic doing what they’re doing. The way an explosively happy child experiments with abandon.
The Impressionists led the way by doing what felt best, not what looked best.
Haring, Lichtenstein, pop artists of all stripes — they brought happy back. 
What people don’t know about happy art is it’s often a release from suffering. For the creator as well as for the appreciator.
I know an Israeli artist who was dying from a cancer from which she was not supposed to recover. At one point she gave herself over to whimsicality in her work . . . and felt a propulsion of creative elation. She swears it is what cured her.
When I think of the work coming out of Haiti in decades past — bright, festive, vibrant with life — I see a people who refused to fixate on the oppression permeating their days. 
It’s the same with happy art buyers. Often you hear stories of overcoming intense struggle at one point in their lives — are we to condemn them for wishing to populate their environments with work that uplifts?

For you 

Evan Griffith
Click here for (occasional) notes at the intersection of creativity and spirit. 

Things you can do in a van
Michael Idlis gets at the real meaning behind happy birthday