Ahhh….the age old question. What is art? What defines it? Who or What says “that piece hanging on the wall is art!” What is the difference between a finger painting that a toddler creates in the backyard and an oil painting hung in a famous art show? Who says which is more priceless or beautiful?
People have been asking these questions for years and I have been interested in this subject since my first and last art class in college. It was an art history course and it was amazing. Next to my aforementioned children’s literature class, it was my most memorable class experience to date. Our instructor “dr. Carlos” was amazing. In love with art. Knew everything. Made you think you were an artist. Even if you weren’t (and I’m clearly not, as exhibited by my final project). You know the type.
Ever since that class, I have pondered the definition of art. Not because I have to understand to ease my mind. Just because it’s interesting to me. I know people that collect art pieces. I know some people that only purchase “edgy” art. I know some people that refer to the art in their home as “adult art” or “real art” or “fine art”, as opposed to the kitschy pieces I have bought which might be considered “cute” or “crafty art”. I know some people that could not care LESS about art on the whole and would prefer a print or something bought at the swap meet. I know some people that prefer textiles to traditional art. I know some people that think modern art is a joke. I know some from the younger generation that would look at a Van Gogh/Degas and think it is boring and “old”. I even know people that will think that this post is lame, irrelevant and unimportant.
As a crafter, I have often wondered what separates the things I create from “art”. What separates a beautifully pieced quilt from a painting on a canvas?
I have several pieces in my home created by BIRD NERD in the Bay area. The ones I have are individually painted and linocut on hard canvas and are beautiful. I own several pieces from ELLOH. She hand paints images from movies and tv shows. Very cool. I have some items from theblackapple on ETSY. She is their highest seller and hand pencils and paints everything herself. It’s adorable. Beautiful paintings.
Most would not consider these “fine art”. Definitely not “adult art” to some. But….why? Is it because it is “pop culture inspired”? Cutesy?Because so was Andy Warhol and his stuff is pretty stinkin’ expensive. Warhol used pop culture icons and brands as his art (Campbells soup, Coca-Cola, Lizza Minnielli etc) and it was largely misunderstood, at first. Was it considered art? Is it? Do you consider it art?
What about photography? I know plenty of people that would not consider a picture hanging in a home art. But, what if that photo was copied and used to create a painting and THEN hung? Would it be considered art THEN? If you don’t consider photography art, what about Ansel Adams work? What about landscape photos that take your breath away. What about Edward Curtis, Annie Lebowitz or Dorothea Lange? Some of their photos are works of art (to me). Why not to others? If I had a HUGE original photo by Adams in my living room, would that be art? What about another original photo taken by my friend Jules? Would that not be art because she isn’t famous (yet)?*Jules photos*
What about an artist that you don’t understand? Say for instance Jackson Pollock.
This is me (in one of my prouder moments) at the MET in New York, next to Autumn Rhythm No. 30 by Pollock. I love this artist. I have since high school. Amazing. To see it up close was breathtaking. So immense and layered. Colorful and simple. HOWEVER….
Many people have expressed his art was nothing more than “splatter paint”. Miss K could do the same thing and better. It’s “unimaginative” and doesn’t take talent. I have heard all these things. To some, it is not art at all. To me, it is brilliant.
My friend Mary loves the artist Mark Rothko. He was also shown at the MET and we were able to see his art while in NYC:
I don’t particularly care for his art at all. I don’t see the beautiful nature that Mary does. I don’t appreciate it the way she does and I’m sure some other people don’t either. Some may look at it (even one or two I have spoke with that are “well versed” when it comes to the world of art) and think that it is too simplistic. No point of view. Uninspired.
So….where does that leave Pollock and Rothko? They are art, yes? They are in the MET. People pay millions for their work. They are “fine art”, yes? Then….does that mean that they are more artisitc than the painting that an emerging artist in East LA creates?
I have asked two friend to jot down thier thoughts on this interesting topic. Part One is written by my friend Jenn. Her boyfriend is an art dealer in LA. Jenn and I talk about art/creating/expression (amongst many other hot topics) all the time. I always appreciate her outlook on things, even when we don’t see eye to eye. She challenges me to look at things differently.
Part Two is by my friend Melissa Munding. I met her at a craft show I was involved in. Aside from painting, she creates her own jewelry (check it out here). She is so talented (and sweet) and I especially appreciate these two paintings she has created:
(both are word documents for you to download and read)
Read these and begin to define what YOU think art is. What are some of your favorite pieces of art? What is art to you? Who is your favorite artist?
I need to remain true to myself and add this in.
The entire time I was making this post, I was thinking about the origination of art. Where did it come from? I believe that the first artist was the Lord. He created the earth and its expanse from NOTHING. NADA. Talk about imagination. Each time I look at a landscape, a sunset, a small bubbling creek lined with daffodils or a family of birds flying in perfect formation….
I realize that the first.ultimate.most creative.talented. artist is