This week I thought I’d attempt to answer the age old question of what is art, or at least answer it from my perspective. My dad’s family is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania which I have visited many times throughout my life. Downtown Pittsburgh is this incredible mecca of culture, whether you’re talking about the food, entertainment, or art. Even though I’ve seen probably every display in each of the Carnegie museums several times, I make a point to go each trip. It’s the art museum that really sparks this argument in my mind. You can spend hours looking at colorful renaissance paintings, intricate jade carvings, and beautiful life size statues and monuments. Then when you reach the modern art section, you can’t help but feel underwhelmed. Don’t get me wrong some modern art is just as impressive, but some of it makes me wonder, “How in the world can this be considered art?” Especially the hanging tire with a nylon legging tied on to it. I’m sorry but how on earth did that get into a museum that is known for great art? I guess someone somewhere was like, “Wow, what a magnificent concept!” I think the trash that accumulated in my high school locker was more artistic than that, but that’s just my opinion. Obviously I don’t actually know what the end-all answer is to this timeless debate, but here’s my rubric of what qualifies something as art.
I feel like true art has to convey the artist’s emotion or passion in some way, shape, or form. A lot of times this can refer to the intense color palate they have chosen or the actual emotion that the people or animals in their piece convey. Many ancient statues show the pain or suffering of the person or people being portrayed. When emotion is successfully executed, it appeals to the audience in numerous ways. Many times your audience can either sympathize or empathize with the same emotion. It’s what puts the human aspect into something that’s inanimate.
Hands-down, any meaningful piece of art has to take time to make. I don’t consider myself a fine artist, but ever since I’ve been in my graphic design program I know that to produce something high-quality it takes a lot of time! If it if doesn’t take at least 30 minutes to plan or make or both – it means you didn’t put true effort into the design. I would even argue that a lot of art takes days to plan and design, but I know that isn’t always the case for smaller projects. Spending time on a piece shows that you put a lot of thought into your work and considered different directions to take your piece into.
Even though I’d argue that emotion and time mean more in the art world, paying attention to detail is also super important. Details show that the artist didn’t just whip something up last second. I absolutely love when a large artwork has several details! It’s like watching your favorite movies and catching on to new things that you might have missed the first time around. Many Renaissance paintings and ancient statues are full of intricate details that almost tell a story within a story. It’s amazing learning about these types of artworks, because it can entirely change the way you interpret things.
I personally don’t look at a painting of 3 stripes or a pile of random items you’d find in your garage as art, but a lot of people out there do. Art is like beauty- it’s in the eye of the beholder. What’s art to me might be garbage to you (and vice versa).
Infographic of the Week:
Question of the Week:
How do you define what’s art versus what isn’t?