That's the trap in which some of you seem to be falling.
Art is already defined as you and others have pointed out.
What I'm saying is that the benefit of *absolute* doubt need lay with the
artist, never you. It probably cannot.
I'm saying that we need to acknowledge that fact, encode it in our
definitions of art, if it isn't already, and teach it, so as to uphold and
further its integrity for art, artist and culture.
Free it from the "elite".
If the artist lives on a planet and makes a work that positively *everyone*
on that planet claims (some through media brainwashing) is not art, that
still doesn't necessarily mean so, contrary to what some might have them
Hell, the artist might have a higher-intelligence or creativity-mutation, or
their work may appeal to those on another planet who do get it.
The artist's claim shall trump or supercede all others.
If a tree falls in a forest and there's only one person to claim to have
heard it, does it make a sound?
What if everyone decides that it did not make a sound, despite the witness'
"Ought to" and "Should be", etc., seem like less-than-virile arguments.
I'm tempted to reject skill as a prerequisite, due to cave art, folk art, or
art that is composed by those who, *according to some*, have "less" skill or
different motor or conceptual capacities than others, yet want to still
create sincere, soulful, spiritual, communicative or otherwise truthful
That sounds like you're proposing a form of elitism-- art guilds and
art-critics and whatnot. An industry.
The injection of the kind of criteria you seem to be suggesting seems to
muddy the matter beyond helpful.
The cure worse than the cause.
You know, over the years, I've found myself questioning the whole matter of
what we see or call culture (which of course includes art), and I've been
forming a contention that what we see as such may be a kind of illusion,
merely the tip of an iceberg...
Backstreet Boys, Michaelangelo, art guilds, Martha Stewart Living, Oprah,
The Gap, Survivor, McDonalds, NBC...
Salient culture served up *as* culture.
Culture as defined by elite groups.
As some have complained, often the loud, aggressive, self-absorbed,
officious, obtuse, power-crazy or ruthless.
By that perspective, every culture in the world is a form of illusion, and
that the biggest, perhaps truest, culture is that which holds the top up,
and that is below the waterline, less seen, unless you're willing to sail up
real close and take another look.
Robert Frost when asked by a graduate student if he was a poet answered:
"A poet is what others call you, to declare yourself a poet would be
arrogant" I think this goes for all artist types.
Some cars have been artistic designs from almost the beginning of the
automobile. Perhaps we should look on them as craft objects. I recently saw
some photographs of a Porsche Carrara that were in my mind art. Partly the
photographer and even more so the subject.
I'd be curious to know what the response was to that, if any. There
might have been if I were that student. ;)
Quoting quotees out of context, incidentally, is all very fine and nice,
but can seem rather like ripping out the art from the artist, which only
serves to further illustrate my original point.
I'd also be curious to know if someone on this NG actually agrees with
my contention(s) (if with some qualifications), or if they're waiting to
see which way the prevailing wind is blowing.
In any case, I'm talking about the work, not the so-proclaimed artist.
As for Mr. Frost, I'd be cautious in my usage of the term arrogant, as
its usage runs the risk of being seen as self-righteous or falling under
its own definition by its usage.
Well, from what I understand, craft objects have been called art.
So you like the Carrara? I'll have to check it out.
I'd say for me, since its inception, its always been the McLaren F1,
although I wouldn't say no to a Porsche.
Ever seen those Smart cars, BTW?
Microsoft has caused me to not trust anything with embedded "smart"
systems to take care of me. I don't trust them (or anybody else) to
protect our lives.
I want to control the throttle, breaking & steering.
I disagree. Anyone can be wrong about their abilities and capacities,
including artists, composers, architects, etc. If one accepts the
relatively basic definition of art as a manmade object with aesthetic
value derived from the masterful skill and craft involved in its design
and execution, the artist's labelling the work as such really has no
bearing. Art ought to be judged (and is routinely judged) on the
aesthetic merits of the object alone, independently of what others,
including the creator, might label it.
The elite (whoever they are) don't judge the artistic merits of a work
Conspiracy theories don't interest me, and aren't really pertinent.
People can and generally are able to make aesthetic judgments on their
own, independantly of what critics or historians or others might say.
Happens in movies all the time, and also to travellers. People the
world over who travel to Tuscany will invariably talk about the beauty
of the countryside, not because they read it in a travel brochure, but
because they've actually seen it for themselves.
None of these conditions are applicable to the normal everyday
experience of art. In fact, a reasonable claim can be made that many,
though perhaps not the majority, of artists, composers, etc are poor
judgers of the qualities of their own works. Reason- they're too caught
up in it, or too perfectionist, etc.
See my response to Kris. Craft is the basis of art (it's the
etymological basis for the word, after all). Art guilds have existed.
Whether this means elitism in your view I don't really care. (The whole
idea of elitism strikes me as artificial anyway.)
My point is fairly straightforward however. An object will have good
aesthetic value from good design and execution. This involves talent,
skill and craft. Whether these are in the superlative category, like
Michaelangelo's Last Judgment, or in a lesser category, like a fine
postcard, or a different range of superlative to ordinary, like that
found in primitive art, all of that is matter of semantic debate. What
is important, in fact what is vital, for there to be any art in the
first place, is that there is a manmade product that can be
aesthetically judged in a positive sense, based on its own merits and
characteristics. What anyone labels it is really immaterial to the
aesthetic experience as such.
In your opinion.
To me there is no 'of course'. It is not obvious that culture (meaning
a common social organization) per se can produce art. Individuals with
certain capacities produce art. These individuals may or may not be
influenced by their culture, background, social norms, etc.
I don't know that any of that is actually relevant to the experience of
My point is that one doesn't even need to wait 75 years. A beautiful
car will be beautiful from the get go. 75 years will layer with charm,
with the exotic, with monetary value as a collectible. None of this, as
far as I'm concerned informs the aesthetic experience of a car as good
looking. It MAY inform the experience of a car as 'appealing', but that
is a rather different way of looking at something.
I think we might be getting sidetracked.
My premise is the idea of a viewer claiming something as not art, when
in fact it is, or could be.
The main hinge of the issue, I believe, swings around a confusion,
difference, and/or distinction between one's *feelings* about a work
versus the *work itself*, or with confusing, (or projecting), one's
*feelings* with, (or onto), "objective reality", so to speak.
As an example, it is the difference between calling someone an idiot (as
if the label "idiot" is somehow separate or removed from the labeler),
and saying, instead, that that same person did something that irritated,
annoyed and/or embarrassed them.
There may be many other people who see that same person quite differently.
I argue, therefore, that the latter, ironically perhaps, is the more
accurate or true.
Therefore, it is not so much the *work*, itself, but rather the
*perception* offered up as the work's "objective reality" that I take
Let the work stand or fall as art on its own merits, and own up to your
feelings or suspicions about it, rather than attempt to change it to
suit your biases.
It doesn't change, you do, and those who perceive it change.
My philosophy is ok with that to a point, "ought-to's" notwithstanding. ;)
To indulge you as you have me, the context by which the artist creates
the work does indeed have bearing, and arguably, is the most important.
The artist also judges their own work. Often they are their harshest
critics. Why you and others would seem to, at least indirectly or
inferentially, diminish that is beyond me.
Actually, they "create" the work that you end up judging, as well as
influence how you or others do!
Yes, historically, they (and we do know who they are, and so should you)
have been largely responsible for the works we now call art.
If you have an Italian background, Marcello, here's one from your own
Never mind the link, you should recognize the name.
Ah yes, God's art... I imagine it was still beautiful and still art long
before we were around to judge it, or determine whether or not it is.
I like the metaphors: God's art; the artist's world; their creators'
"Steal" the work if you must, and make it your own, but that's part of
the context of their art, and the original remains, if only in memory.
- A little poetry for you.
In which thread? Is it going to be as long?
Exactly. So take ownership, then, of your own aesthetic experiences.
If I'm speaking for someone else, I'll be sure to make every attempt to
qualify that-- especially where art is concerned! ;D
Fair enough. Is there a culture without art?
Well, if you can produce ample evidence to the contrary, I'm all ears,
since I'm of the contention that the "creative imperative" is what forms
a large part of what drives us as a species, of who we are.
"Although popularly associated with art [re. creativity]... it is also
an essential part of innovation and invention and is important in
professions such as... architecture, industrial design, science and
"...art is commonly understood to be the process or result of making
material works (or artwork) which, from concept to creation, adhere to
the 'creative impulse'..."
-Wikipedia, about 'Creativity' and 'Art'
Maybe we all have a capacity to produce art and it's this kind of
thinking that holds us back.
We're all influenced by our cultures, backgounds, social norms, etc..
That's part of what makes us a social species.
Well, I did get a little sidetracked by here. :)
I took artistic license.
I have never spoken to a Medici, and never read their 15th century
commentary (if it exists) on any artistic works they may or may not
have commissioned. That artistic works get commissioned by people or
organizations (the church being the biggest commissioner of all, in
historical terms) is a fact. But just because they commissioned it
doesn't really mean much in terms of the artistic qualities of the
object itself. As an example, the Spanish Steps are a great piece of
architecture. Whether it was commissioned by the Medici, Pope Giulius
II, or Pippo doesn't really matter, since the work stands as great
architecture on its own merits.... merits that people recognize
independantly of their knowledge of who commissioned it.
Do you know who commissioned the Mona Lisa? What about Beethoven's 9th
symphony? Would those facts have any impact on the merits of those
works as works of art? Of course not.
None of your cases above are pertinent to normal everyday experience of
art. What ifs of the extreme kind you propose don't interest me, and
The fact that some artists are poor judgers of their own works goes at
odds with your claim that the artists' claim of a work as art should be
the only defining criteria of a work as art. A work may be artistic
even if the artist doesn't believe so. And, vice versa, a work may have
little artistic merit even though the artist may claim that it's a
I've written some poetry myself.
Sure. It is fairly easy to imagine a culture so thoroughly enamored
with technology and science that all artistic pursuit has been
abandoned. Only utility counts.
Wikipedia is a good source, but you must be careful about citing their
articles on topics like art- particularly because many of their
articles are still a work in progress (and you can see this in reading
both articles you cite.) You're better off going to Encyclopedia
Britannica, or reading Feeling and Form by Susanne Langer, if you're
truly interested in aesthetic philosophy.
Can you sketch well? What's stopping you from trying? Can you compose a
symphony? What's stopping you from trying? Can you play the piano like
Andre Watts? What's stopping you from learning?
The acknowledgement that we have different capacities is based on
reality and 'doesn't hold people back'. People have different talents
and enjoy different pursuits. Whether they choose to pursue them may
simply be a matter of practicality. I for instance would like to learn
to play the piano, but don't have time.
In addition not all of us can be great artists or great architects or
great writers. If that were truly the case, if art were truly that
easy, there would be no merit to art at all.
And artists can choose to eschew their culture completely. Gauguin is
an extreme example.
I found it cute that a hegemony might provide a work that one would claim to
judge outside of their influence, since the very act of judging it in the
first place would seem to say something about their influence.
But I think I undestand what you mean.
Here's to hoping we judge art "accordingly", and to proper influence in that
I hear you, but feel that the artistic qualities of the object won't mean as
much if we divorce the object from its contexts, such as whether it was
commissioned and why, or what the artist had to say about it.
While I appreciate it, I've never really liked the Mona Lisa, or Beethoven.
...We have examples from Italy and one from Germany... How about something
from Laos, Tajikistan, or Paraguay?
They might, and might also on their interpretation, and more.
If we accept one or more particular definitions of art that ostensibly hinge
especially on the artist's internal states in some ways, then how can we
conclude definitively or absolutely that their claim to their work as art is
How about if we accept a work that is both art and not art?
Agree to disagree.
I'd like to read some sometime.
What's that supposed to mean? :)
I imagine there have been many of such responses to many forms and works of
I'm in good company. ;p
You previously wrote:
"None of your cases above are pertinent to normal everyday experience...
What ifs of the extreme kind you propose don't interest me, and aren't
Make up your mind. ;)
Perhaps, but I've read that Wiki comes pretty close:
Neverthess-- although while there are apparently more accurate, etc.,
sources than Britannica-- when one considers how the Wiki works, it seems
remarkable that it even compares at all.
Psychiatric problems stemming from my childhood when I was caught in class
sketching a nude?
I may yet compose an electronic symphony.
The piano's probably my favourite acoustic instrument.
If you're short on time but not compositional desire, you can always compose
using electronic piano sounds, which are unbeleivably realistic-sounding
There'd still be merit if only in the satisfaction of engaging in something
Besides, what does great mean anyway?
Is a great writer one who writes award-winning novels and then drives home
drunk and neglects family?
Is a great athlete one who runs the fastest by in part taking banned,
perfomance-enhancers in a new, undetectable way before the race.
Is great an illusion sometimes?
Gauguin's culture was in him and he was also a part of it, as we all are.
The very attempt at insightful eschewal would also seem to force that kind
Culture can be experienced through a corporate 5-star "tourist bubble"
hotel, a B&B, or a local's single family home.
By judging, I have meaning all throughout this discussion appraisal of
aesthetic qualities, as opposed to many characteristics of meaning.
If one judges a work based on its aesthetic merits, meaning and context
don't come into play (much like appraising flowers or a sunset or
landscape). If you mix an object's 'meaning', then yes context and
artistic intent can be important. Myself I give little weight to
meaning for relatively abstract works, like architecture, classical
music and abstract painting and sculpture.
I have some nice looking stamps from Laos and Paraguay. Can't say I've
seen anything from Tajikistan.
By looking at the work itself.
That's not a helpful way of speciying anything.
I used to have a website in the mid 90s that had some of it. Gone now,
as is Compuserve. But it's nothing to write home about.
It means that taking 'ownership of aesthetic experiences' is what I've
been talking about all along, rather than having some else (artist or
critic) decide for me.
You asked a what if. I provided one that, by the way, is rather common
in science fiction.
I've composed snippets in MIDI. Without basic knowledge it's just
The Sistine Chapel, the Pyramids of Giza, the Colosseum, Beethoven's
9th, Ca d'Oro in Venice, Debussy's La Mer, Mozart's Requiem, Picasso's
Guernica, Michaelangelo's David, etc. etc. etc.
But an artist can willfully reject it, ignore it, etc., just as anyone
could, if they were of the mind to do so. Much in the same way as one
can adopt a new culture. It's not for everyone, but artist's in
particular are often prone to crossing cultures in order to expand
their horizons, especially in this past century. So the influence of a
given culture on a particular artist's artistic vision or capacities
may be quite small.
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