The Laws of Nature

Monday, January 11, 2010

Results: Is It Art?

Thanks to all of you who took the poll on yesterday's post! Your thoughtful answers reflect something I've been wondering about for a long time: if artists themselves can't decide what is art, how can any one else? Perhaps the answer is so subjective that it's best left to the individual, after all. Or, maybe we all know what "isn't" art when we see it. In any case, I'm listing below the creators of the 10 images from yesterday's post:

#1 - a painting by Rothko hanging in a museum

#2 - an advertisement, don't know the name of the creator

#3 - a Kinkade painting

#4 - graffiti on a city wall, unknown creator

#5 - ready-made art by Duschamp displayed in a museum

#6 - painting created by an elephant (paints, canvas, brush, and some direction supplied by humans)

#7 - oriental rug, don't know who made it

#8 - created by Damien Hirst on display in a museum (MoMA?)

#9 - body tattoo created by unknown person

#10 - card from a Rorschach test

Does any of this information change your opinion? Don suggested yesterday: Isn't art all about intent, context and the reaction of the viewer? What do you think?


Anonymous said...
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Mary Paquet said...

Pam, very thoughtful comment.

Well, I see I made a typo in my first list of fine art (meant to say 6 rather than 7 and repeated 7 later). I also totally overlooked the ink blot (did I dismiss it so quickly that it left my mental landscape?). I interpreted the shark as a man-made sculpture in some type of display case. I'm still uncertain if it is.

I agree with Don's comment about intent. Now, I did not express an opinion of whether I liked the art. I was surprised to find that one work that pleases me more than Kinkaid's, which I recognized as his yesterday, was done by an elephant. I just read Edgmont's post from yesterday and really like his assessment.

Interesting discussion! We all seem to agree that art is almost undefinable.

hw (hallie) farber said...

I think perhaps it takes two to make art; first, the artist; second, someone to value it.

Then I wondered about Sonabai. Since her husband obviously did not destroy her work; she might have felt his approval.

Always good reading here.

Shawna said...

I am coming late into the discussion. Recently I watched the documentary "Who does she think she is?" where one of the people interviewed said something to the affect of 'Is it art if you put it in the closet and no one sees it'

His idea was that art is a communication between artist and viewer and without the viewer then he wondered if it was really art.

I think with that criteria then the urinal would be art because the artist was expressing a certain idea. Then there was a viewer (because it was at a museum) to agree or not agree with the artist's expression.

When I looked at number 1 I was reminded when my oldest son was 6 and he did a painting of a witch at night (all black). Sadly the teacher kept it.

Thanks for all the interesting posts and for actually keeping up with them so well.


-Don said...

Personally, I agree whole-heartedly with what Don said.

Hallie, what an astute observation regarding Sonabai! I've got to give that some thought.

I enjoyed everyone's comments from yesterday. I appreciate that several were not afraid to voice their own opinions. I too have strong opinions about most of the pieces you displayed. But, when the question is, "Is it art?", I think my opinion then becomes irrelevant - because I firmly believe in intent, context and reaction. Since we have now realized that this question has many answers and no answers I will give my opinion of each.
1. Boring
2. Mmmm, snack time.
3. Are you serious?
4. Nice work. But, destruction of property invalidates it for me.
5. Ridiculous
6. Even more ridiculous.
7. Intricate. Would look great on the floor in the family floor.
8. Why?
9. Nice design. How does your mom like it?
10. Mother

Because of my opinion does that mean these items are or are not art? Nope.


Unknown said...

You are doing it again Katharine! I read the last couple of posts and you have tossed the discussion ball out to all of us blog dogs to play and banter with. Great job!

Unknown said...

Hi all! Thanks so much for your thoughtful and insightful comments. I'll post a summary tomorrow and add a little :)

Casey Klahn said...

Sheila said "blog dogs" - that's a good one! Don - extremely funny. Great short responses. I appreciate and think I agree that your (and also my) opinion are irrelevant as to what is art.

Still, I do disagree with Duschamp when he say that he doesn't care for the word, "art." I don't consider myself more important than the 500 art experts who voted for the urinal, but I do reserve the right to disagree with them - the urinal is an important historic object, but I see art living on. Except when I view the TK painting, that is.

BTW, I saw a book with some Kinkaid plein air works of a Europe trip, and he does quite well at that.

Mark Sheeky said...

I'm with Don! :D

Shawna said...

I just went through all of Don's comments while looking at the #10 looks like your Mother. I don't know if I should laugh or be sad...though I am pretty sure my kids would say I looked like that sometimes! ;-)