Friday, March 19, 2010

What is Art?

What is art?

People are always saying things are not art. How, I wonder, do they know when they don’t appear to know what is art or what art is, if that is any different? Does anyone know what art is?

I may not know what art is but I know what it isn’t, I mean I know what isn’t art, if that’s the same thing? A pile of bricks is not art, nor is a cut up cow, or someone’s unmade bed, or a picture of a woman, who might be a man, with a silly grin on her face and a moustache on her upper lip. It’s the moustache that does it or does for it. Without the moustache it might be art, I’m not sure. I mean who ever heard of, I mean saw, a woman with a moustache?

Art is a picture of something, where you can see what the thing is, like a road sign

Art is a picture of something which resembles the thing which it is a picture of, like a photograph in my magazine or family album, or like Michelangelo’s ‘God Creating Adam’, which captures God (and Adam) to a T.

Art is beauty.

Like Loch Lomond or the Andes in the spring?

No, I mean art is a picture of something beautiful.

Like my photos of Loch Lomond?

I mean art is a beautiful picture.

Like Goya’s ‘Saturn devouring his children’? That’s horrible!

The distinguishing characteristic of art is ‘significant form’. Like a urinal which signifies a place to piss? No, like an altar which signifies a place to pray, or an aerial map which signifies a place to bomb?

Art is what artists say it is, said the artist. Or is it what artists do, asked the other artist? Everything they do, like having a piss? No, only what they do which they also say is art. Who gave artists this power? God. Who decides who is an artist? An artist is a person with a certificate from an art school or art college. Like Giotto or Rembrandt or Picasso? Alright smart arse, you are taking the piss – at least Giotto, Rembrandt and Picasso were trained by other artists.

What makes someone an artist able to train other artists, so that they can say what art is … or isn’t?

They make art.

But what is art?*

John Molyneux

* For the correct answer see John Molyneux, ‘The legitimacy of modern art.’ ISJ 80


artlesslass said...

Study Marcel Duchamp. His work is the most profound statement about what art is.

Artist said...

Well, maybe, Susan, but art is much bigger than just one person, however influential. It spans 40,000 years of history and all human cultures.

melekler korusun 73. bölüm izle said...

thank you

P Bolton said...

Its a tough question, the what is art question and one i study enthusiastically.
As a fellow marxist i would encourage you look at 2 things : 1, The invention of Art by larry shiner(because history is essential) and 2,Art and aesthetic by george dickie -in particular the chapter on institutional analyis (its good but as good as something can be without a marxist analysis). you may find them intresting.

Art as significant form has been proven false not by theory but my the activity of artists themselves, Susan who comments before me indicates Duchamp, Art does not span 40, 000 years, painting does, sculpture does but art does not, the ancient greeks had no concept of such a thing. evidence is plato and 'techne', i outline some points in my blog below. ...and duchamp is infuential because of the consequence he had on Art in general, after duchamp anything could become art and the tendency of the readymade can be found earlier in the french artist movement the Incoherents.

MelanieLazarow said...

Astute comments P Bolton, thanks