March 11, 2005

Art or Not? Answer the age-old question! (Stolen shamelessly from the Blue).

What makes something art? Is aesthetic response quantifiable? For Plato, good art was art that soothed and was non-representational (or idealized), as art was a lie that inflamed the senses. For Josh Reynolds, a neo-platonist, the most important thing was to show an idealized form, representing, say, the best of all possible horses (this thinking was mocked in Candide). For Tolstoy, art should be plain, easy to understand regardless of educational level, and work to make the viewer closer to God. For the Futurists, it was something that was violent and manufactured, something that celebrated war and forward action (one of the few movements to support fascism). What is art? Can you rate it?

  • Read Kant's Critique of Judgement. I could explain it, but that would take just as long as your reading it for yourself. I heartily recommend it. Can we rate art? No, there is art and there is non-art. But I am a Kantian in my perspective.
  • Really? What differentiates art from non-art?
  • The purpose. Kant says that art is that which appears to have been created for a purpose but has none. Things that really do have purposes cannot, therefore, be art. He opens the art world up for abstract- and concept art.
  • But really, you need to read Kant's reasoning.
  • I think that it is much easier to rate art than decide between art and non-art. It is always subject to personal criteria - it's not entirely subjective, but the criteria can be. Some people rate art on how avant guard it is. That has little value for me; I rate art on its effectiveness at communicating visually with me the viewer - an idea, an emotion, even just wonder at the beauty of shape.
  • So - if 10 good and 1 bad? The site isn't so clear.
  • I am having trouble figuring out what the link is all about - it doesn't help that it seems to exist only in pop-ups. I had thought it was an art equivalent of "hot or not?" which would be very fun to do. But I just appear to be seeing a confusing webpage for an art collective?
  • It is hot or not, and it doesn't need popups. But- A bunch of the images don't seem to work (I found that out after posting).
  • I think we have to be able to make a distinction between good or bad- some people will say "its all a matter of opinion" and yeah it is, but to me, that's a cop out. Personally I look for depth and timelessness- things like The Beatles or The Simpsons (when it was good) work on more than one level and will be good forever. In music, there are hits that are popular but will be forgotten. In comedy, there are lowbrow jokes about current celebrities and such that may get a cheap laugh but will draw blank looks in 5 years. However, I have had interesting conversations where people tried to draw a distinction between "art" and "entertainment." No one was able to explain to me a difference between the two, except that "art" was what they considered good and "entertainment" was what they considered not good.
  • A thing is art if an artist says it's art. -- Marcel Duchamp I consider painting as a means of expression, not a goal. -- Marcel Duchamp Art is the only form of activity in which man, as man, shows himself to be a true individual who is capable of going beyond the animal state. Art is an outlet towards regions which are not ruled by time and space. -- Marcel Duchamp
  • In cases like this, I always turn to Ambrose Bierce: ART, n. This word has no definition. Its origin is related as follows by the ingenious Father Gassalasca Jape, S.J. One day a wag -- what would the wretch be at? -- Shifted a letter of the cipher RAT, And said it was a god's name! Straight arose Fantastic priests and postulants (with shows, And mysteries, and mummeries, and hymns, And disputations dire that lamed their limbs) To serve his temple and maintain the fires, Expound the law, manipulate the wires. Amazed, the populace that rites attend, Believe whate'er they cannot comprehend, And, inly edified to learn that two Half-hairs joined so and so (as Art can do) Have sweeter values and a grace more fit Than Nature's hairs that never have been split, Bring cates and wines for sacrificial feasts, And sell their garments to support the priests.
  • Hey, I was convinced last time this discussion came up. If it doesn't have ham on it, it's not art.
  • And if it does have ham on it, it's delicious? So long as there are also some tomatoes and some mayonaise. And perferrably the something is rye.
  • Sorry - I misread you. I thought you wrote "So long as it doesn't have ham, it's art." But I can totally understand ham going with art.
  • Among threads discussing the age-old question previously this and this may be of interest also.
  • Skrik- I'll see if I have that Kant. I have his critique of reason, but I'm not sure about the critique of judgement (ah, Great Books, thanks gramma!) I would, at least superficially, disagree with the idea that art cannot have a purpose. I think good design can be art, and architecture can be art. Dr. Jimmy- I think, often, when people want to disparage something as bad art, they say instead that it is not art. Although, since we have a semi-famous art fair here in town every year, I've been known to point out that things aren't art; they're crafts. (It's a dubious distinction, and one that lies on fine art vs. populist art...) I tend to believe that the sine qua non is the presentation of an object. Some people believe that there has to be human agency in the object, I'm not one of them. I guess I'm just willing to call anything presented as art "art," and then disparage it for being bad...