Jul 312010
 

This blog post is pulled and revised from some of my writings dated January 2002. It’s not very polished writing but hey, this is  a blog. Anyway, I thought it might be a worthwhile post.

"Night", Artist Unknown

"Night", Artist Unknown

I was reading a thread on an art forum a while back.  It was started as “That’s Art?”  So many posters had offered various ideas about what art is and what it isn’t. None of them stated it quite like I see it. Some argued against modern art and some praised it. Some said that art had to be beautiful, some said it had to be skillful. Some said it had to make a statement. Some felt that art was “reborn” when it broke away from realism. There was a mention of a canvas, painted black and titled, “Night”. Is it art? Many said yes, some said no.

I like to evaluate and measure art based on the premise that art is “creative expression”. Real art is driven by the need to express something that simple, fact-filled words or detailed diagrams cannot suffice. What’s needed is creativity, poetry, finesse, flair, whatever you might call it…something that raises the level of communication to where one is really moved or touched by the artist’s work. And, if no one is moved by the work, then it fails to fulfill its purpose to that degree, and fails to be genuine, meaningful art.  

No communication; no art.  No expression; no art.

Still, I do believe that the qualification of art is all-inclusive, even in spite of the lack of master skills. It simply has to be a crafted work presented to an audience. Through some medium, paint, for example, the artist communicates a thought or message. Whether his art deeply moves people or is just balked at, it is still art, technically. It may not be very effective – lack of skill or vision may have stifled the artist’s efforts – but it is still art.

Now, of course, there is a vast difference between what merely “passes” as art and really great art. Consider this: If an artist, who  had great skill, painted something very realistic but it doesn’t move anyone (perhaps because they just mistakenly dismiss it as a photograph) while another artist, with less skill, composes a very profound image with only a few strokes of paint and it really moves the viewer, who has created the greater art? I must say the latter.

Skill cannot equate to art. We already have devices; cameras and computers that can “skillfully paint” images. That doesn’t make it art. Skill is not what defines art. An emotion, thought, statement, feeling and then having the skill to communicate it to another; that is art. Art must be something that can’t be generated solely by a computer because it is not simply a matter of skill, either technical or natural. Of course, it does require sufficient skill in order to effectively create a convincing image. But, still, art is not defined merely by a measurement of skill.

It is not just communication of an emotion, but rather skillful creative communication of an emotion. Skilled to the extent that the artist chooses colors, composes forms and constructs the elements of a work in a way that best communicates what he wants. The better the result and the better the reception; the better the art. Skill does play a part.

Now, communication involves two parties; the giver and the receiver. Effectiveness of the art depends on both. The better the artist and the resulting work and the better the reception by the viewer, the better the art. If the receiver doesn’t “get it”, then the art is not effective and its value is diminished…the actual value of art changes depending on who is looking at it and the experience they have!

So, even if you don’t think a particular work is art, don’t dismiss it too quickly. Someone else may look at it quite differently and absolutely see it as art.

Good art, bad art or not art at all…it’s largely determined by the artist, but to a fair degree it’s “in the eye of the beholder”.

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