What is Art?

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What is Art?

Post  Maria on Tue Dec 11, 2007 3:38 pm

I really like this question. My answer to this always pisses people off.

I used to say that art is anything created by an artist. An artist is anyone who wants to be an artist. One person I was in a band with used to scream and shout whenever I brought the subject up. People seem to think that an artist needs to be awarded the title. I think it's hard enough getting people to see your artwork so why should aquiring a simple title have to be an upward struggle as well. It doesn't matter whether this work was made by an artist or not what matters is if you think its good or not.

I have recently been thinking a little more about what art really is though. The interesting argument to my previous definition is what if someone who doesn't like being called an artist draws a picture of a duck and someone who wants to be an artist draws another picture of a duck. Is one art and the othet not?

I find it easier to make this distinction when the creation doesn't fall under the traditional definition of art or fine art. If you remember the walkers Mory mentioned when he was moving books. I don't have a problem seeing how one is a walker and the other is an artist.

After putting some more thought into it I now believe art is anything that is classified as art whether by the artists themselves or someone who admires and likes the work and thinks it should be art. This would mean that I can now take the drawing of the duck made by the person that doesn't want to be called and artist and put it in my gallery and it would be art.

This definition works well if you look at the history of art as well. All the work made by the egyptians for example was great but I don't think the egyptians thought of themselves as artists.

Maybe people get pissed off over something being called art because they don't understand it or because they feel they should be the ones making the decision. Maybe its just their discust with society in general "Look at the state of our lives today. This is now art". Ultimetly it doesn't matter whether something is art or not what does matter is whether you like it or not.

Maria

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Re: What is Art?

Post  Louie on Wed Dec 12, 2007 6:17 pm

Thanks for setting up this forum Maria, I think it could prove to be very interesting. I agree that if an artist produces work then that work is art, I also agree that the accolades of "art" or "artist" can be awarded by someone other than the artist and I agree that ultimately it doesn't matter whether something is classed as art or not but I still think the question has a lot to offer if we attempt to answer it. For instance; how would you describe art without saying that it is something that has been nominated to be called art? Anything can quite easily be described as a work of art but that doesn't mean that everything is a work of art. What's the difference between Picasso's Guernica and the cup of tea sat in front of me?

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Re: What is Art?

Post  Maria on Thu Dec 13, 2007 3:44 am

Louie wrote:Thanks for setting up this forum Maria, I think it could prove to be very interesting.

No problem I hope it will be good the message board format is good for discussion I think.

Louie wrote:
how would you describe art without saying that it is something that has been nominated to be called art? Anything can quite easily be described as a work of art but that doesn't mean that everything is a work of art. What's the difference between Picasso's Guernica and the cup of tea sat in front of me?

That's a good point Louie. I guess a work of art is something that exists purely for its asthetic qualities. So while the cup of tea exists for drinking tea Picasso's Guernica exists purely for its beauty. I actually borrowed this view from mapping the terrain which is the book I'm reading. It includes a lot of text about the asthetic of a piece of art and actually challenges that particular definition of what art is in the way it describes a lot of public art (which is what the book is mainly about) stating that it goes beyong the asthetic.

It all sounded a little too technical to me so I've simplified it and I think that if something doesn't have a particular purpose appart from to please your senses (which include your thought senses in the case of conceptual art) then it can be described as art. But one question I have here is "What if a non artist draws a picture of a duck to try and catch other ducks in lakes and I see that picture and I think its great. Can this picture be a work of art?" The same thing is said about the egyptians and christian art which was all created for a purpose. I suppose while its being used to catch ducks its not art but if it stops being of some use and people still want to keep it then its a work of art.

hm. What do you think?

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Re: What is Art?

Post  Louie on Thu Dec 13, 2007 7:17 am

I'm not sure I agree with this, I would say that a piece of art can serve a purpose and remain a piece of art. Maybe the piece would lose some of it's charm and a lot of the meaning.
For instance: If you used Picasso's guernica as a room divider it would gain a purpose and still remain a work of art but lose a lot of it's poignancy. Whereas with Kerry's cauliflowers, part of the work is about the allotment having a purpose, growing cauliflowers, and would lose a lot of it's meaning if it didn't have a purpose.

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Re: What is Art?

Post  Maria on Thu Dec 13, 2007 7:47 am

Louie wrote:I'm not sure I agree with this, I would say that a piece of art can serve a purpose and remain a piece of art. Maybe the piece would lose some of it's charm and a lot of the meaning.
For instance: If you used Picasso's guernica as a room divider it would gain a purpose and still remain a work of art but lose a lot of it's poignancy. Whereas with Kerry's cauliflowers, part of the work is about the allotment having a purpose, growing cauliflowers, and would lose a lot of it's meaning if it didn't have a purpose.

If you use Picasso's guernica as a room divider it would still look good but I don't know if it would be classified as a work of art. Unless it being placed as a room divider is asthetically significant. I've not completly susses this bit out so my argument might not be strong enough. I don't know do Kerry's Cauliflowers really serve more than an asthetic purpose?

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Re: What is Art?

Post  Morry on Thu Dec 13, 2007 2:08 pm

Hi Maria & Louie

Some interesting debate there. I think this forum could be a good way to thrash out and get to the bottom of some of these tricky questions!

Guernica is likely to be hung in some museum somewhere but if it is in someones bedroom, whether it is hung on the wall or used as a room divider (and a lovely room divider it would make!!!) could its purpose not be to bring its owner comfort, joy, solace, strength, inspiration etc etc each time s/he wakes in the morning and see's it?

I don't know too much about Kerrys caulis as I haven't seen them but surely the act of planting them is a symbolic gesture? Something that acts as a signifier to the history of the area and to the previous uses and abuses of the land and the people who lived and worked on it. People will see them and perhaps wonder why they are there and hopefully think about some of these things.
For me, this is the same as Piccasso depicting the bombing of Guernica during the spanish civil war in his painting. He wants the painting to serve as a reminder to anyone who sees it of the struggles and the suffering of the people of Guernica during that time.
Both artists have similar intentions.

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Re: What is Art?

Post  Louie on Fri Dec 14, 2007 2:58 am

hi morry, welcome to the debate.

The idea of the painting bringing joy, inspiration, solace etc. I think would still fall under the asthetic qualities of the painting.

I agree that both Guernica and kerry's cauli's have a similer asthetic value in that respect. But Kerry could have painted a picture of a cauliflower allotment or produced a bronze sculpture of some cauliflowers, which would have little purpose but asthetic value. Whereas producing a working allotment with the purpose of growing cauliflowers retains those asthetic values and the piece gains a practical purpose.

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Re: What is Art?

Post  Maria on Fri Dec 14, 2007 5:15 am

If Picasso's Guernica brings you comfort and joy in the house and I probably agree that that's of asthetic significance then its still art isn't it? What I mean is does art have to be in a gallery for it to be art? Can art never be shown to anyone and still be art?

I also agree that the caulis and guernica are quite similar and I would say that Kerry could have made a bronze sculpture of a cauli to signify what they meant to the area but she chose this particular medium of growing them. Maybe because she likes growing more than making sculptures just like maybe Picasso liked painting more than walking.

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Re: What is Art?

Post  Louie on Fri Dec 14, 2007 5:37 pm

Going back to the difference between Guernica and a cup of tea, I think it's probably alright to go by my instincts and say that Guernica is art and the cup of tea isn't. Even though making the cup of tea is a creative process and the end result is designed to be aesthetically pleasing I would say that there is something missing from the cup of tea that means it doesn't qualify as art.

I was trying to pin down the differences between the tea and the painting,
Guernica has a complex and stimulating visual composition.

  • Guernica taps deeply into human emotion.
    Guernica was an original piece of art that pushed the boundaries of painting
    Guerinca has a large cultural value
    Guernica told a story with a significant historical value


I'm not sure if that gets us any closer. How would duchamp's fountain fair compared to a cup of tea?

Fountain asks question about the nature of art
Fountain has a philosophical value
Fountain is an everyday object taken out of context
Fountain pushed the boundaries of art
[list][*]

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Re: What is Art?

Post  Maria on Sat Dec 15, 2007 5:13 pm

A lot of the art at the cornerhouse exhibition doesn't do what Guernica or Fountain does in those terms and still its considered art. So are we saying that art is subjective? I guess a lot of people seem to think so because they are quick to say what is or isn't art. I will still say if someone thinks its art for the any reason like the qualities you mentioned about the works louie then its art. So unless someone defines the cup of tea as changing the way we look at things, being of historical significance etc.. then yes its not art.

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stuff

Post  Kate on Wed Dec 19, 2007 10:23 am

is this discussion what we would like art to be or what we think art should be or what art actually is?
i guess technically i'd say art is anything any given individual perceives to be art at a given time. everyones opinion being as valid as the next; artist or otherwise. for me whether something has a function or is asthetically pleasing or not doesnt come into it but its interesting to hear such differing opinions in such a small group of seemingly similar folks. i might ask my gran who is a fan of poundland art and my aunty who is a fan of anything that cost lots of money their opinions over chistmas.. maybe lowri could ask mable.
keep it going guys!

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Re: What is Art?

Post  Maria on Wed Jan 02, 2008 4:35 am

Kate wrote:is this discussion what we would like art to be or what we think art should be or what art actually is?
i guess technically i'd say art is anything any given individual perceives to be art at a given time. everyones opinion being as valid as the next; artist or otherwise. for me whether something has a function or is asthetically pleasing or not doesnt come into it but its interesting to hear such differing opinions in such a small group of seemingly similar folks. i might ask my gran who is a fan of poundland art and my aunty who is a fan of anything that cost lots of money their opinions over chistmas.. maybe lowri could ask mable.
keep it going guys!

People do get angry about what is or isn't art. I bet if you told you aunt who likes expensive things what your gran got from poundland she would be angry. Why do you think that is? Its interesting.

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Re: What is Art?

Post  Maria on Fri Jan 04, 2008 5:32 am

I found this interesting discussion on youtube on this very subject..

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=Li8LxUAEkdU

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Re: What is Art?

Post  Lowri on Sun Jan 06, 2008 8:18 am

art is the idea and/or the stimulus, between an artist and an audience. it is the thing that happens in the middle, and to be an piece of art it needs to be agreed by the 2 parties in the art equation, the artist and the audience. But I think the artist (the creator) can also be the audience (the viewer) of the art, just as the audience can be the artist. For example, if I produce a painting, or a cup of tea, and deem it to be art, than I also am viewing it as such, and am as much a credible viewer, to confirm my piece of artas art, as much as I am the artist behind it. Likewise, if I see a duck in the park, and am so moved by it I class it as a work of art, than what begun as initially seeing has been transformed into my constructing it and classing it as a piece of art, and that is my creation, I am the artist of that duck. (not the duck's mum.)

But I believe there needs to be some integrity here. And I think integrity is the key to deciding what is art, what isn't art. Is there a huge spectrum of art, starting from things that are 1% art to pure 100% art? Is there good art and bad art? Is bad art really art at all? who decides this? does someone with 40 years of art education, experience and knowledge have a more valid opinion than someone who has little or no art experience/knowledge?

If I consider personally what I think art should be, I think art has the potential to 'move' somebody, that is, to provoke thought, feeling or a reaction. art is a vehicle for a an exchange of ideas between people. unlike the world of science, art offers ideas that are not bound by fact or reason, but go beyond, freely into thought and imagination. That makes art accessible to everyone, as we are all creatures that react to stimulus, even if our reaction is to ignore it. Therefore if anyone wants to experience art they can, just as anyone who does not want to (for whatever reason) doesn't.

Going back to integrity of art. If I like a piece of art it shows integrity. what is integrity in art? I think it comes from the artist and the audience, again a public agreement between the two sides. For example, I consider myself an artist. That does not mean everything I make or do is as an artist. When I cook my tea I am not artist, no matter how creative the process may be. i am serving a purpose (to eat) and very little else matters. But when I am writing, or making a sculpture that is dictated by thought and lead by an idea, than it is art. Art has to be quite seperate from life, although art may imitate it or seem similar to life(eg. reality tv or tracey emin's bed) it has to have the intention, an idea, to go beyond this and thus reveal something profound (or mundane), poignant (or trivial) about it. Art is communication, exchanging ideas, something that is as accessable and powerful as you, the artist or art viewer wants it to be.

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what is art?

Post  kerry on Wed Jan 09, 2008 6:06 am

Hi

Just logged in and having read your thoughts I’d like to add my penny’s worth to the debate…

I came across a quote – can’t remember where - but I’ve been carrying it around for some time now – scribbled on a scrap bit of paper
It reads…
“Art is a reminder of the utopia of plenitude slumbering in the lap of bourgeois capitalism”
Clement Greenburg

What is Art? is a question that is never likely to be answered - or at least I hope an answer is never agreed upon, because as soon as we know what art is – art as we know it will cease to be. art would become formulaic and never changing

I had a bash at writing something about “Art” last year in my liverpoolwatelands blogspot
It mentions Lacy’s book, and touches on other things that have been brought up in your debate – shan’t re write it, but feel free to have a read at

http://liverpoolwastelands.blogspot.com/search?q=struck+down+by+a+cold



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Re: What is Art?

Post  Andrew on Fri Jan 11, 2008 3:02 pm

1. the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.
2. the class of objects subject to aesthetic criteria; works of art collectively, as paintings, sculptures, or drawings: a museum of art; an art collection.
3. a field, genre, or category of art: Dance is an art.
4. the fine arts collectively, often excluding architecture: art and architecture.
5. any field using the skills or techniques of art: advertising art; industrial art.
6. (in printed matter) illustrative or decorative material: Is there any art with the copy for this story?
7. the principles or methods governing any craft or branch of learning: the art of baking; the art of selling.
8. the craft or trade using these principles or methods.
9. skill in conducting any human activity: a master at the art of conversation.
10. a branch of learning or university study, esp. one of the fine arts or the humanities, as music, philosophy, or literature.
11. arts, a. (used with a singular verb) the humanities: a college of arts and sciences.
b. (used with a plural verb) liberal arts.

12. skilled workmanship, execution, or agency, as distinguished from nature.
13. trickery; cunning: glib and devious art.
14. studied action; artificiality in behavior.
15. an artifice or artful device: the innumerable arts and wiles of politics.
16. Archaic. science, learning, or scholarship

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Re: What is Art?

Post  Maria on Wed Jan 16, 2008 5:44 am

I think I am now more confused than I was when I started but I feel comfortable as well because untimetly it doesn't matter. Art is what I want it to be and just because we all have different definitions isn't stopping us from working towards our individual goals.

yay!!

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