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Sunday, March 10, 2013

What is Art?

What is art? That question has been floating around in my brain for the last year or so. With the growth of social networking sites, the ease of sharing art with others is just a click of a button away. But there is a draw back. Just as easy it is for you to share "good" art, it is just as easy to share "bad" art too. But how are we able to tell the difference between the two. So this leads me back to my question, what is art? Or maybe more preciously what is good art?

Dictionary.com defines art as: "the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance." After pondering this question, logic suggests that what makes art good is then predicated on an individual's taste preference. If an individual can find beauty or appeal in the piece, then the piece has some form of artistic merit. But since artistic merit is then determined by individual taste, does that mean that a certain piece of art can be more "artistically good" than another piece of art based on the shear fact that more individuals like that piece than another?

Compare Da Vinci's Mona Lisa to Henry Darger's watercolors. Since the Mona Lisa is more well known than Darger's watercolors, is the Mona Lisa superior? I think some people would argue this point, that yes it is superior. But is that right? Again if we follow the definition of art, given to us by Dictionary.com, as long as the individual finds beauty or appeal in the piece, then it must "good" art. Hence the watercolors and the Mona Lisa are equals.

Not all pieces of art will have universal appeal to everyone. But isn't that the joy of art? That you can find beauty anywhere you look for it? By definition art should embrace diversity. The more I think about this question, the more I want to work on an audio documentary exploring art, and what makes art good.

3 comments:

Matt Maldre said...

A couple thoughts on "what is art"

1) Joseph Beuys is known for saying, "Everyone is an artist." I hold to that as well.

2) Art can be anything, anything at all. This foil wrapper that I just unwrapped to get to a Dove Dark Chocolate. That foil wrapper can be a work of art. The unfolded wrapper sits on my desk taking a form. It makes me ponder. About things that delight. Things that unfold. Things that are metal. Things that are yummy. The multiple folds and wrinkles imply time. I could go on and on. Basically, if you can read some sort of meaning in something. If something communicates something to you. If something makes you think or feel, that is art.

Oh wait, but you are asking about what is good art. Ooooh. Oook then! Here we go. Try out this link, in my explanation why use the name spudart, it also explains what I believe makes good art. http://www.spudart.org/thoughts/potato This is an old webpage (from 1999) so it probably needs some updating. But the basic idea is there.

Matt Maldre said...

SFMOMA recently asked what is art? and they made a wordle out of it.
http://sfmoma.tumblr.com/post/45767099237/what-is-art-we-made-this-word-cloud-out-of-all

Peter Kreten said...

Thanks Matt, this is really insightful. I think sometimes people (myself included) misunderstand what art can and should be. I like your line: "It makes me ponder." The more I think of it, more I really like that line. That could almost be the definition of art. Something that makes you ponder, to investigate, or brings about an emotion. It moves us.