What is art?
THE WORLD OF ART...And other related thoughts about the creative process of painting, drawing, sculpting, designing, architecture and nowadays - digital painting. I should also include manipulative photography. You may be wondering just what are my qualifications that give me the right to discuss this topic, considering it seems that I mostly only concern myself with fantasy art, fantastic art and surrealism. Well I can tell you that even though I have not undergone the lengthy educational fundamentals of art history, I have visited hundreds of museums and galleries. I have also been involved with art for over 60 years along with experimenting with almost every aspect, style and genre of the creative process, except glass blowing and maybe a few others.
I will post some of the writings from my book "Perceptions" and I have come up with some more thoughts that I put in my third book, Perceptions II. I will also use any intelligent info I find on the web because I have run across some very interesting comments. I have also run across some opinionated comments that I feel are a little too ambiguous. Granted we all have our opinions but it is doubtful that we have the right to express ourselves as a liaison for the general populous. Anything I use from the web, I will post a reference link to. So this page will be like a blog but not really a blog. More like a process of venting because I have no one to personally exchange these views with except my son who is an excellent art critique but is usually too busy with work. Everything I post will also have to be somewhat based on common sense.
JUST WHAT IS ART?
I believe creating art has a twofold purpose; one, to occupy a restless mind; and two, to leave behind something that says 'I was here'. Art seems to occupy every aspect of everyday living. Even the basic concept of the wheel can be inundated with designs. Just look at all the varieties of rims on today's cars. The designer can say - 'I did that, I was here'.
Art is therefore a legacy. From someone to someone, from someone to everyone, and in some cases from a group to everyone.
I have been educated (told) there are the three styles of art - Representational art, which obviously refers to imagery that represents something(s), such as figures, objects, landscapes. Abstract art, a relationship of form, shapes and color, conceived when an artist distorts a real object. And non-objective art. A non-objective painting has no real object in it to start with. The artist is merely concerned about the composition, balance of shapes and color combinations. My own experience and development over the past years (since and continually from the age of four) has lead me to believe there are three basic categories of art: psychological - how the art will affect the viewer emotionally; cultural - how art reflects the life and times of the artist along with the media input the artist receives; and technical - which may be art that is refined by a methodical mechanical degree of expertness. Some art may contain all three but all art will contain at least one.
For each one of us, every piece of art we take into our consciousness will be evaluated and judged. Like it or not, in those evaluations, we will undoubtedly use the memes (contagious ideas) that were indoctrinated into our susceptible childhood as well as formulated by our adult education and exchange of communication and judgments. The phrase 'I know what I like', comes to mind. The purpose of art is basically an expression, while the ideals, conceptions and interpretations are much more varied.
I believe the greatest aspect of art is the direct relationship to the culture, from which it came. From thousands of years in the past to the absolute present, all art reflects the artist's frame of mind, which has been shaped by that artist's society, which in turn, is a direct result of the culture that society is part of. From the most simple cave paintings and contemporary bizarre surreal imagery to the most beautiful placid landscapes, including all the representations of man's structures, that is art. If the creative aspects of any of these artistic endeavors are continuously appreciated by future generations, then the initial need to create art has been worth the effort. If specific artistic achievements are eventually discarded then the person(s) responsible, still most likely had the pleasure of the creative process itself. The achievement to a particular end seems to give one a purpose of self worth.
Do artists create or imitate? What is original art? Some people believe that original art is not copying such as figurative or imitative. All art copies something. Even a plain straight line exists somewhere in nature. And all art is original in a sense, even a piece that is considered a forgery. Didn't the hand of the forger create it? If that piece (a forgery) has been passed off as the work of an original master and was successfully exchanged for a very large dollar figure then the phrase 'A fool and his money are soon parted' comes to mind. I am not advocating doing art forgery as a means to get through life, I am however pointing out, that the copying artist (who should of signed his own name) is every bit, if not more so, as proficient as the original master. That is art.
We all have that which is around us to inspire us, to mimic, to imitate, to expound upon and manipulate to create our own 'works of art'. I will find just the right brush (and sometimes modify it) to get just the right feel when applying paint. If I couldn't find it, I would make it. That is art.
If nothing else, embrace art. It has, after all, been inspired by your world. A piece of art referred to as a masterpiece, has been given that title because for a long time (or even a short time) multitudes of people believe that work is the transcendence of what art should be. There is very likely a work of art you feel moves you more than anything you have ever seen in a gallery or a museum, yet everyone around you may tell you it is nothing. This piece of art may have more merit to you than a so-called masterpiece. It could be the child's scribbling stuck to the refrigerator door. That is the power of art.
What is art? Art is a need of humans. I suppose that art is pretty much everything a life force makes with consciousness or an awareness of intent. Mother Nature seems to pretty good at making art as well. As I've said, art is after all, a legacy.
What is art? An old conception of art is that it was supposed to be beautiful or represent something. What happened? Are there necessary and sufficient conditions for being art? Ken suggests that art might be a family resemblance concept, that is, lots of different art pieces resemble each other, but there is no underlying thread that connects them all. What makes an artistic process artistic? Ken introduces the guest, Alexander Nehamas, professor at Princeton. Nehamas points out that the first time that the question of what art is came up was in the 19th century in a pamphlet by Leo Tolstoy. Nehamas doubts that one can define art. Ken suggests that art is whatever is made in an artistic process and consumed as art. John counters that this is circular. Nehamas points out that most pieces of art in museums were not intended to be art. Nehamas thinks that to be an art object, that object must differ interestingly from others of its kind.
Nehamas thinks that the desire to make something special is characteristic of the artistic process. Is there a legitimate difference between high art and low art? A lot of people think art is only the stuff hanging in the museums. Historically, much art was made for popular entertainment. Does this mean we should expect popular culture like Seinfeld to be the only thing to survive the passage of time? Nehamas points out that we need to consider why we would want an algorithmic way of deciding what is art.
What is the connection between beauty and art? Nehamas thinks that all art is beauty although it may not all be pretty. Beauty, he says, involves whether you like it. Much modern art is engaging although it isn't pretty. What does art do for us? Nehamas says that primarily it is for us to enjoy. Can just anything be art? Nehamas points out that it is hard to convince people that something is art. There is also status involved in art, like Bach's commissioned pieces. A lot of art is inaccessible because it requires background knowledge, but many people think that it should be immediately engaging. John points out that some art is aimed at a small group of viewers. Nehamas thinks that it is difficult to appreciate any art, even great art. He says that we need to learn how to appreciate art, from paintings and sculpture to television and punk rock.
A personal comment: Educating yourself on how to appreciate art with reason is one thing, but it seems too much of that education makes you devoid of emotion when it comes to passionate appreciation.
From: Soren Petersen, Design Research Ph.D. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/soren-petersen/what-is-art_b_1938274.html
Art can be framed as a human propensity for "goal directed play," with the intent of "making objects special," and supporting a culture's ceremonies. Ellen Dissanayake's definition of art is the best definition I have seen so far. It refocuses the definition of art from being limited to objects, and view art as a distinct humans behavior. Behaviors -- which give our life meaning. So is there such a thing as good and bad art?
There are probably as many opinions on art as there are art critics. Inviting creative professionals in online social network communities to share their opinions provided some qualified insights. Good art was seen as:
The expression of the thoughts of the artist are successful when it engages both the maker and the viewer and creates dialogs of wonder. It is subjective and stimulating end seeks to enlighten and entertain. Art adapts to and reflects the values of the time, by speaking the language of the patron and by adjusting to the consensus of the most successful styles of the period. Which, at the moment, happens to be design. Art and design are inextricably linked. In a comparative study, experienced professional designers were asked to judge submitted designs, which had received awards with those who had not received awards. Without explicitly expressed criteria their evaluations agreed 50 percent of the time, which was no better than tossing a coin. However, when the design award criteria were used, the experts showed a 95 percent agreement. Are there similar criteria we can all agree upon when it comes to evaluating art?
Is art that promotes moral behavior considered to be 'good'? Is art to be evaluated in terms of aesthetic notions of beauty -- by its conformity to 'rules' of composition, form, line, texture, color and so forth? Or, could art be evaluated in terms of its relationship to historical, socio-economic and cultural events and concerns? Could the quality of art be measured in terms of its ability to express a mood or by its 'relatability'? Does art need tell a story, relaying a sense of meaning?
In Grand Rapids, Michigan, there is a yearly art contest in the fall, exhibiting more than 1,500 art pieces in galleries, stores, restaurants, bars, in the street and squares as well as along the river. Everyone can vote a "thumbs up" on as many pieces as they want by texting a number displayed next to each object. When I walked this huge exhibit a chilly afternoon in 2010, the top 10 contestants had already been nominated. Even though there was a large range in expression, they all had one distinct commonality; they could all be easily communicated when talking to one's friends. Folks seem to prefer art that can be measured and described in common terms. One piece was a large lion made from rusty horseshoe nails. Another, a 15-foot flying pig made from barrels, with its feet resembling rockets. A third, a white room with red strings crisscrossing the space.
To appreciate an art piece, one has to be able to understand and share the vocabulary applied. Thoughts and ideas are worthless unless shared -- without impact they have no relevance. Perhaps some of the more well-designed and innovative products of today are, in reality, a type of substitute art because, although functional, they may still be perceived as art.
A personal comment: In reality there is for the most part no vocabulary inserted into most visual art, (commercial art being the exception). Maybe that last comment by Mr. Petersen in the paragraph above should of read 'vocabulary implied'. And yes I do realize he was referring to 'products'. I personally know a few artists that paint for their own pleasure, for the sake of doing something that gives their life meaning. To give them pleasure through a creative effort, which is not easily understood by someone whose art form is being verbose. Maybe an individual's art will be 'shared' after they are gone. Maybe not. Maybe they do not care. Thoughts and ideas are sometimes conveyed through the 'Hundredth Monkey Effect'.
Whenever I have viewed art as in a museum, with another person (that does not share my feelings of deep affection) I seem to almost always be asked 'What do you think it means'. If you can't utilize your perspicacious insight, maybe you should be looking elsewhere. Relevance is in the eye of the beholder.