Friday, February 08, 2008

What is art?

This is a discussion that has been ongoing since a local art competition over the summer holidays. Seems some people don't approve of the judge's choice. Well, that's often the case. I've had the most interesting discussions about art since and I think that's just great.
So, what is art? There was a letter to the editor in our local newspaper that said it was about beautiful and poignant paintings that made people feel good about their environment. What do you think? The question was asked "what a heritage we would have if all the great masters just chucked their framed dirty washing on the wall"...
For lovers of art history, negative responses to new or 'different' art are not a surprise. I think "dirty washing on the wall" is kind of what art is about - the artist's personal response to something whether it be a beautiful forest, a happy child, a shocking war scene, a political speech... Sometimes it'll be pretty, sometimes it won't. It might shock, upset, threaten, or soothe, entertain or make people laugh...
I found an essay written by Leo Tolstoy in 1896 "What is art?" He wrote "in order correctly to fine art, it is necessary, first of all, to cease to consider it as a means to pleasure and to consider it as one of the conditions of human life". Makes sense to me.

Political correctness and art? Do they have anything to do with each other?

1 comment:

aka Cate said...

I think the question is deceptively difficult - it's up there with does God exist. I guess as long as you enjoy creating your art whether it be art or Art then that's the main thing. Like any form of opinion the creator opens themselves up to praise or ridicule.