Kris Krieger wrote:
> IMO painting a canvas one color and then plopping a dot or stripe
onto it isn't art.
I've thought about this, and my formative take is that, if an artist
calls their work art, and they are being entirely honest and sincere
about it, then it *is* art, whether you think so or not.
You may question their sincerity or truthfulness, and reject it as such,
but, absolutely, it is the artist, alone, who determines whether their
work is art or not.
This philosophical perspective appeals to me because it respects and
elevates the artist and their work, such as by acknowledging their right
to one of the crucial aspects of their art-- its definition as such--
while at the same time, wresting the same kind of power of definition
where it doesn't belong.
It also improves our semantics regarding, and possibly our understanding
and appreciation of, 'art'.
No doing that you only prove one important point, --- that so much art
today is acturly about Social skills.
If 10 Arts critics say your crap is Art then it is art , and it belong
in particular buildings.
The more nonsense and dull words about it, the mopre Art it will be ---
but not before a lot rubbish been wrote, words that could cover
whatever "Art" , --- it's just a question about curators and how much
nonsense can be shared.
Then with all art you still be up against the fact, that "Art" is the
work of those dead guy's that hang on the walls of the Museums, Museums
are those useless twisted structures that thay made , to be sure to
kill Architecture as an art form.
I'm saying that it is not for me to tell you your "Mr. Hankey" is not
art if you think it is.
That would ignore the Other Mind problem, incidentally:
If I say I'm sad, you cannot absolutely refute that fact, short of
So, in the same sense, if my artwork was an expression of the spirit of
my sadness, as I truly believed it to be such, and someone said it was
not art, they would be in error by this philosophy.
If we were to apply that logic to the rest of life, can you imagine what
a disaster that might be. Each person defining each term as they wish
it to be defined.
How about this definition. Art is art when somebody is willing to pay
If it's for your person, then fine. But if you go hang it on a wall
somewhere, then your definition is no longer personal...it's public.
Because YOU call it art, doesn't make it so. You may have intended it
to be art (based on your personal definition of 'art'), but that still
doesn't make it art.
Let's see...the word is used to define the work, right? We're talking
about applying the word to the work. It may happen that the word
doesn't fit--even if we want it to fit. For instance, I can't oil paint
very well (well...not at all). If I were to create a painting, I'd be
hard pressed to call it "art" even if were my intent.
Intent is not sufficient cause.... You can't call it art just because
you INTENDED it to be art. You call it art when it IS art.
Not really... I think it's a great, workable definition. But, I offer
it with the caveat that you can't buy taste.
If I feel sad at home and then go to an outside auditorium and announce to
an audience that I feel sad, I still feel sad.
You, they, can say that I don't feel sad or that I don't know what sad is,
etc., but that doesn't change the fact that I feel sad.
As a scenerio; I complete a work similar to something Kris mentions above
(paint and a dot or stripe on top) that, during its process, has me crying,
because it is an expression of the sterility of the profit-driven world,
etc.. Is it art?
So Kris comes along and says that it's not art. Is that fair to the artist?
And maybe someone else in a priveleged position of social influence, like a
politician or a media channel personality, says it's not art, and suddenly
"everyone" agrees: Not art.
Is it still art?
I will suggest that denial of some forms of art as being such, despite the
artists' insistence to the contrary, is "philosophic or semantic
bookburning", and that, as a culture, we are diminished by it.
I'm arguing that, absolutely, it does, or at least that a
"priority-of-definition" must be acknowledged as being with the artist. If
not, then who else? George Bush?
Just because YOU or Bush says it isn't art doesn't make it so, and, indeed,
your contentions need be dead last on the list of considerations by my
Art has a broad stroke, a broad definition, a broad philosophy, any way you
Ones art doesn't need to fall under anothers definition to be art.
That sounds disingenuous, and cheapens or diminishes the value, meaning and
potential of art. It concerns me that you see it that way, too. I mean,
you're an architect? The artist is your sibling.
If a work touches him emotionally, Yes.
Art is about communication, about an attempt to understand something about
the world (be it the inner world or the outer world), and then communicate
Belief is not the same thing as reality. Belief *can* be real, but it
Art is defined by its ability to endure, IOW, communicate repeatedly to
people across time and even across cultures. Some work does that, some
does not. It's not merely a matter of individual taste (as in, "I don't
like purple walls in my house"). Nor is is a matter of mere beleif on the
part of someone who does something.
It's not a matter of "contentions". This isn't stuff I'm just pulling out
of my butt. It's what I accept but it's also what has been accepted for
centuries - Art is a form of communication, and Art is something that does
communicate something. And it communicates without requiring paragraphs of
circumlocution and obfuscation that is supposed to be accepted as
Well, you can think your own stuff is Art, and that's fine, but you cannot
demand that anyone else *must* adopt your opinion.
No. When you're talking about three stripes on canvas being purchased for
$2million+ of taxpayer money, the financial definition is precisely
correct. The vast majority of people will look at it and say it's crap.
Only a few poeple will bend over backwards trying to use long paragaraphs
of convoluted polysyllabic meanderings to "explain it's deep meaning".
Art stands by itself. in many cases, an understanding of the cultural
underpinnings of a work helps to deepen its meaning, but Great Art
supercedes even that, and communicates something even to peole who don't
understand its cultural meaning.
Specious. And not relevant. Even it it's true, being a "sibling" doesn't
mean that one has to completely toss aside all of one's common sense,
aesthetic sense, and general sensibilities.
At the same time, Art is very much in the eye of the beholder. There are
numerous examples of things I've heard called "art" that I think are
fatuous crap intended to make a killing off pseudointellectuals with more
money than brains. I don't care that the Vancouver museum paid $2million+
(and several years ago at that) for three stripes on a canvas, I don't care
about anyone's "statements of meaning" or any pseudointellectual blither -
IMO, "they was robbed" - and I was also robbed, given that part of my
already-exhorbitant tax burden was spent on it.
Now, if you go smear some fingerpaints onto canvas, and use some big
emotional exposition to convince someone to pay you $10,000 for it, hey,
more power to ya. But there is no way you can convince me personally that
it's Art, unless it communicates something to me other than having rooked
some sucker into paying big $$$ for it.
Mayby that isn't "fair", but it's just as fair as, for example, my writings
being turned down by two publishers, or the shop not taking my painted eggs
on consignment because they'd have to charge too much, or so on and so
forth. OTOH, I have been able to sell some of my graphics, and I'd had a
market for my pen-and-ink bird drawings but then had to go onto meds that5
make my hands shake too mcuh to do that sort of fine-line work any more.
But that isn't a matter of "not fair", it's a matter of "that's life".
Anyone who creates something is naturally disappointed if it doesn't go
over. When that happens, a creative person will try several things - he
might say, well, to heck with the critics, *someone* will eventually
appreciate my work, I just have to find those folks; and/or he might work
at refining his technique and mode of expression, and/orhe might even find
an alternate means of using that creativity that ends up suiting him better
as well as producing some income.
But for one person to claim That's Just Life for everyone *except himself*,
and that *his* feelings "must" be respected and coddled and so on - well,
that's nothing more than childish simpering. And that is not an adequate
or valid basis for claiming something to be art, or even for making art.
Art is a statement. a shout, a cry, a whisper, a clarion call, a caress, a
punch in the gut... - but what Art is *not*, is a whine.
People are increasingly doing that as it is.
In the past, I'd had people come to me for non-professional/personal advice
or councel, and I finally gave up bothing because most had the attitude
that "words mean what they want them to mean".
Then they would whine and kvetch and piss'n'moan that "nobody understands
them". Well, how the heck *can* anyone understand someone who continually
uses words to mean anything *except* what the vast majority of people
understand them to mean (and the dictionaries define them as meaning)?!
Art is communication one a deeply moving, "gut" level.
People try to describe Art (and no, *not* just pseudo-intellectuals or
academicians =:-p ) because most people tend to try to describe what things
mean to them in general.
Tho' thre are some people who attach a lot fo blither to some things
because they're only trying to appear celver, or justify why they paid what
they did, and are too psychoemotionally insecure to simply say "I got it
because I like it".
What do you call a kid with no arms, no legs and lies on the floor?
What do you call a kid with no arms, no legs and hangs on the wall?
I don't know what art is, but I know what I don't like when I see it.
The definition of art is actually fairly well established:
The historical root of the word 'art', is close to 'skill' or 'craft'.
In terms of painting or architecture or music, etc., an 'artist' is
generally one who shows a level of high skill and concept in their
works. I agree that the artist's claim also plays a part, but it is
not, and should not, be the only defining criteria. There ought to be a
body of work that clearly demonstrates that an artist claiming to be
so, is so because of their exceptional skill and concept.
The real problem is not the word itself, but that different people are
able to rate 'skill and concept' differently, based on their education,
learning, expectation, etc. Some people take the position that any
creative act is 'art'. Unfortunately this view is not really helpful in
allowing one to distinguish lesser and greater craft. After all, there
is a whole range, from 'everyday craft' (in painting by the numbers for
instance- which is more like a game rather than a craft) to mastery of
art exhibited by Michaelangelo, Rembrandt, Cezanne, etc. In between is
the gamut of artistic works which demonstrate more or less craft, skill
and concept. Whether these in-between works ought to be placed in a
museum is a matter of debate, and ultimately, a matter of time (and
The same applies to all aesthetic fields (architecture, painting,
music, etc.) as well as, to some extent, manufacturing.
Exactly :) . Which is why most people cannot consider my prior examples to
be "art" - most people expect art to be something other then what their
pre-school toddlers can do with a box of finger paints.
Yes, that summarizes (and probably better states!) part of what I had tried
to point out.
At the same time, there are the Naif and Primitive types of 2D art. Folk
art is a type of Primitive style, such as the works of Grandma Moses, who
was untrained, yet has touched a great many people with her work vecause of
Just a thought here, but, it just occurred to me that maybe part of a
viewer's (listener's, reader's, etc.) evaluation is not so much a specific
sort of skill, but rather, a sense that the creator was using his or her
best skills and abilities, and also maanges to communicate.
Yes, that summarizes one part of what I've been opining.
At the same time, though, it's possible that Art can be produced by people
who do not claim to be, or think of themselves as, Artists-with-an-
uppercase-A. As the saying goes, talk is cheap, and I've known enough
people with maybe a teaspoon of talent and/or skill but barrelsfull of
whine, to be unable to take people's claims seriously. There are too many
people in general whose main talent seems to be self-inflation, self-
aggrandizement. Those people too often drown out the people who have real,
True, to a great extent, but I think that a desire and appreciation for
things that move us is a fundamental part of human beings (well, most of
them at elast).
Now, tastes do differ as to what is and isn't beautiful.
I agree re: craft, but I do think that the crux of Art is Concept - *and
how effectively that concept is communicated*.
In the end, skill and craft only take one so far - there are people who
have the skill (and steadiness of hand) to paint/draw images that can
barely be distinguished from a photograph, because their level of realism
is so high - but that skill does not in and of itself produce Art.
There are many skills that can be taught, such as the Rule of Thirds in 2D
composition, and such techniques can improve anyone's work. An Artist,
however, senses many (possibly most) of these things intuitively, as a
given - and also has a sharp sense of when and where the rules can be
Personally, I think it applies to anything and everything a human being
does and can do.
The appreciation of primitive art, and classification of such craft as
art, is in part based on the recognition that the level of skill
involved is above the norm of objects typically created in primitive
cultures, but it also derives from the word 'art' also meaning a class
of manmade works (like liberal arts). Nevertheless, even this
definition is based, ultimately, on a level of skill/craft... the
distinction is of course 'primitive'.
I myself don't put much stock in 'communication' because a lot of art
and art appreciation can occur without any contemplation of concepts or
ideas, but only the appreciation of an object's or piece's
characteristics. This is especially true of architecture and a lot of
instrumental baroque/classical music, as well as 'abstract painting'.
The notion of art 'communicating' can even detract from the aesthetic
appreciation of a piece.
If there is a carry over of idea or sentiment from a work of art to
someone appreciating it, to me that's just icing on the cake, but not a
determining factor as to whether it is cake.
This is a little different in other classes of art, like literature,
poetry, opera, programmatic, music, songs, allegorical paintings and
the like, where meaning is an integral part of the work's structure.
Nevertheless, even in the case of the Pieta', I can still appreciate
THE WAY Michaelangelo arranges Christ's body, the choice of textures,
the angles and respose of the bodies, the expressions and gestures in
the hands and faces, without ever having to bother with the fact that
it's a statue about a mother's mourning a dead son (to put it bluntly),
much less that it is a work of strong religious significance.
In fact, my criteria is only that they have a body of work, not whether
they themselves make any claim to being an artist, for exactly the
reasons you point out.
I disagree, for reason cited above. To me, the overriding quality of
art is that it have aesthetic value, meaning a harmony of arrangement,
style and elements, such that, to use Alberti's words, to add or
subtract anything would diminish it. That is why, for me, craft is the
element of prime importance, given that art is manmade, as opposed to
natural events with their own aesthetic value, like flowers or sunsets,
The art can communicate extra-aesthetic elements, like a plot, a poem,
a feeling (like the fear and anguish in the the Dies Irae of Mozart's
Requiem) may be critical to how a work is structured, designed and
executed. Nevertheless, I can still aesthetically evaluate the
relatively minor differences of decorative style on the exteriors of
Palazzo Medici (Michelozzi) and Palazzo Gondi (Sangallo), without
caring a wit about what are the architectural semantics (if any) of
rustication, for instance.
Which is all part of craft and skill. By skill, I mean not only knowing
the basics of technique, of design, of how to produce craft, but also
the skill in design and in execution itself, in order to produce a good
looking/sounding product. This involves all aspects of creativity as
an overall talent. In the case of music for instance, a composer of
good sounding music would be expected to know the tonal ranges of the
instruments, the limits of how they can be played, as well as having a
knack for design and layout of a piece of music, of melodic craft, of
harmonic technique, when to break with sonoric expectation
(dissonance), etc. There is much much much more to artistic skill than
knowing how to paint a photograph.
It's just interesting to me, the way one picture can be "perfectly"
crafted, following all the rules of composition, color, tool use/technique,
etc., and yet, leave a person unmoved, cold. Yet something like some of
the Lescaux <?sp?> tableaux are strangely moving, in a way that lingers
outside the realm of words.
I think that what bugs me about works that *require* pseudoanalytical
babble is that they are unmoving, meaningless, without the babble.
All works are created withing a cultural context, and having some
understanding of that context deepens one's experience of the work. But
the best works IMO don't *require* pounds of words to move one, to
communicate ideas or emotions.
I might not understand dot paintings, for example, but many hold a strange
appeal. That was even before I understood that they're visual
representations of journeys (physical or spiritual). It's the initial
whisper that leads one to seek the deeper/cultural meanings.
It doesn't matter what the support for a painting is (canvas, board, a
rock, etc.), or how an instrument is constructed, or the material from
which something is sculpted - the best works, IMO, have some mysterious
voice that people can hear. The cultural context can't replace the voice,
or provide one if it isn't there - but it can add harmonies and harmonics.
From what I understand, and even from what I gathered from a philosophical
demo in one of my art classes once, it most certainly does with a context:
The plucking of the guitar string can have a different meaning 'at that
time' than the same event 'at another time'.
As an example, you may decide that the context of your single brief and sole
plucking of the guitar string during your art performance shall be about the
notion of music's purity, about the note as a tree in a forest, about that
journey through all the notes as trees, and how a single note is that first
You could, if you wanted, drag that note out somehow and amplify it to show
it is in fact composed of many little harmonies and frequencies, etc., --
little notes in and of themselves to a single song as single pluck-- that
create that single note and tonal quality, that ultimately make a guitar
sound something you cherish above all other instruments, that make music to
There's your art and music right there.
That's partly why I keep going back to the artist and context... and why I
feel that Kris, and now Marcello et al. would do well to be ambushed,
Spanish-style, with a fresh crate of rotten tomatoes. ;)
It was simply an example, and indeed a short one at that.
I could have started and stopped with:
"The plucking of the guitar string can have a different meaning 'at that
time' than the same event 'at another time'."
Hell, I probably could have whittled it away to a 5-second sound bite to
appeal to a hypothetical target market audience that eats what the radios
and record companies feed them, maybe like SRV and BBK.
In fact, just for a little performance art, I won't read the rest of your
I'll stop right here and make my response shorter than yours. ;)
(Back after these commercial announcements!)
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