Wednesday, July 12, 2006

What is Art?



Dismantled Beetle, 2003 by Damian Ortega, Venice Biennale.

Answering the question posed above, is a big job. I believe that it cannot be answered definitively and must be left up up to the individual.

Let me tell you about a personal experience of mine that related to this subject. I was in graduate school working on my masters degree in art history and working at my father's law office. He had occasion to need a definition of art, as a citizen of the town he represented, had taken it upon himself to hoist an old VW bug up on a stump in his yard. When asked to remove it by the local government, the citizen refused saying it was art and he had a right to display it. This caused my father to have to take the man to court to try and compel him to remove the car from the stump. The city was claiming it was not only and eyesore, but a danger.

My father's thought he could get his art historically educated daughter to define art for him, and surely this old car on a stump would not fall within that definition. Well, I told him I could not give him one definitive definition of what art was and that I was sorry, but in some people's eyes, a VW was art. He does not often become angry with me, but this time he did. I wanted to be able to solve his problem, but I knew I could not, as I feel it is an individual interpretation when it comes deciding what is and is not art.

In the end, it turned out the stump was on someone else's property and it was removed, but the question of whether or not it was art, is still not resolved.

3 comments:

Marie N. said...

Great links today!

A friend says "If I can do it, it is not art." In fact, I have said this myself. But at the same time I know something is not quite right about the statement.

I could probably do a great job *copying* a number of pieces considered great or important. But they are things I would never think to create. Some of them I may even consider a waste of time or materials to create.

I have no claim to be an artist!
Marie N.

Anonymous said...

If it can be regarded a "statement" expressed in an original manner by a person. Ideally, the statement leads to the positive sides of the world, rather than destructive. Whatever the means to express such a personal statement, as long as it is original and creative (or innovative), it is art. How to interpret the "statement" shown in the object is up to individuals. The value of such an object or work is evaluated by both its artistic techniques or originality, as well as the meaning (or the impact) of the "statement". Can we break down the different aspects involved in an art piece, to give a broad view of art? In this sense, the word "statement" should be understood in a loose way.

Bobo said...

Why is it ideal for art to render a positive statement? Some of the most provocative and meaningful art depicts moments of terror, horror and sadness. As for the need for originality to define art I would disagree. I once read that e.e. cummings said that all originality is undetected plagarism. Art is merely the need to express one's self - be it through the wreckage of a VW or through the glorious and sumptous Ingres portrait listed above - it is a desire to leave your imprint of what you see in your world. What others think of your art or your art forms is utterly, utterly irrelevant. Their is inherent artistry in all things - in sewing, in cooking, in talking, in love, and in short, in life. Art is an elevated state of consciousness - be it positive or negative. It's people who claim that they understand that make me laugh. What I see when I look at a ruined VW or Titian painting is what matters...how I feel in the presence of genius, or in the presence of the absurd (e.g., the VW or anything by Robert Gober) is the intimacy and and glory of art

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