WHAT IS ART?
ART – is in the eye of the beholder or so They say.
(I love the amorphous “They” who can be made responsible for
a host of rules and pithy sayings.)
So what do I have to say about ART? Art the divine, Art the mystical, ART the sole purview of the TALENTED? Art the bullshit?
Art is whatever you can make people believe it is … like plumbing pieces arranged in such a way that a ball bouncing around the structure will play Bach; or conglomerate of driftwood that trundles down the beach propelled by sails and looking like some kind of fragile demented creature from outer space.
But is it REALLY Art?
I saw “The Bull”, Picasso’s arrangement of a bicycle seat and handlebars years ago when I lived in NYC, and I was shattered. It was breathtaking, something I have never forgotten. So how can that be? It’s a freaking bicycle seat, for pity’s sake! But the impression of this piece, the juxtaposition of the two items was perfect.
The relationship between elements — be they simple carbon lines on paper, or scraps of wood glued together and painted white — is what makes the difference between childish scribbles and something you can call art. Art is not only what you see, but what the thing you see does to you. In music, it’s the three notes that make Pachelbel’s Canon so universally appealing. There are more examples …
To a mother, a child’s scribbles can be inspiring, but to someone else it’s just a child’s mindless scribbling. (And if I hear another devoted mother/grandmother tell me that their divine offspring produced better artwork than (fill in the blank) I’m going to have to say something rude.)
Art is defined as “a diverse range of human activities in creating visual, auditory, or performing artifacts, expressing the creator’s imaginative or technical skill, and intended to be appreciated for their beauty or emotional power.”
Art is in the eye of the beholder.
Lately Art has become entertainment. Facebook, for example, is full of video clips showing someone drawing the Mona Lisa out of sand dribbled onto a tabletop, or reproducing Michelangelo’s David from a tree stump whittled away with a chainsaw. Apparently people regularly attend performance art shows that include a live artists creating Art right here in front of you!
Does it take skill? I’m sure it does.
But is it Art?
Some people paint with brushes, others with brooms. One woman paints with her hair, another with her boobs. Someone else paints on boobs … The Performance Art Event, therefore is equal parts spectacle, shock, and awe.
But is it art?
The latest fad is the painting party. People pay 25, 35 dollars and go to the venue with their friends. They are given a canvas and a select pallet of colors, and directed, brush stroke by brush stroke, how to make a specific painting.
If there’s something that might present a difficulty, like a round sun or an animal, they’re supplied with a template or stencil to guide their pencil. After the party — during which they can chat and giggle with their friends, and drink wine and nibble on snacks – they can take home something on canvas to hang on their wall and show their friends.
But is it Art?
Years ago, people used to do something called “paint-by-numbers.” These kits are similar to the painting party in that the “painter” is directed where to place certain colors in order to produce a finished painting, but in this case the artists is given a detailed drawing to work with. Because there is less room for “error,” the product of the paint-by-numbers kit is more finished compared to the painting party product.
(Interesting fact; some of these older “number” paintings
have become collector’s items.)
I have good friends and relatives who enjoy painting parties very much, and they proudly show off their paintings on Facebook. painting parties serve a purpose; it’s a way for the participants to have a lot of fun (alcoholic drinks are often served), and they can take home a brightly colored souvenir of the event.
So just what is art? Should Picasso’s Bull be judged next to Mrs. Smith’s painting party “Lovebirds in a Tree?” What about the color pencil drawing I did that took me a good 12 hours? Can we compare it to the color-pencil-by-numbers drawing that took someone two or three hours of following the pre-printed lines on the paper?
Can the two be compared? Can the work of one artist be compared to the work of another? An Art be subject to qualifying analysis? Or like grapes and apples is it just a matter of personal preference?
“I don’t know if it’s Art or not,” said a woman to Renoir, “But I know what I like.”
“So do the cows, madam,” replied the artist.
So maybe the answer, like the concept of Art itself, is in the mind of the beholder? But then that makes me question reality.
Forget it all, it’s giving me a headache. I think I’ll go and paint ….
Next question: What about TALENT?