Wednesday, August 1


For the longest time I've wanted to write on this subject. Currently, I have two drafts on the topic saved on my Blogger account, and I've intended on writing on the presence, or lack thereof, of morality in art for months. Why have none of these been published? Because I keep getting tripped up on a rather foundational idea. I don't know what art is. Try to write on art's morality or the difference between a review and criticism without a definition of art is not so much like trying to walk before you crawl. It's more like trying to walk without any freaking feet. So, here I am, trying to find a definition of art that encompasses it all, from music to movies, from Pollock to Da Vinci and grow some feet.

Art is that which is appreciated for what it is and created through human intention. Not for what it does or can do. Not what it means. Simply what it is.

In all honesty, this definition of mine does not sit well with me. It doesn't seem quite right, not precise enough. Still, I need something to start with and this has been a choke point for a week or two now. In all likelihood this definition will change as I further consider it and find definitions others use, but I at least have a point to move out from now.


Emmett said...

I wouldn't worry too much about finding a good definition: people have been trying to find one for millenia and they haven't succeeded yet. One of the problems, I think, is family resemblance. People know, to some extent, what art is. They recognize paintings, sculptures, poetry as art. But what happens when you write things that look kind of like poetry but make no sense, a la Gertrude Stein? It's similar in some respects, but not in others. Sculptures are artistic, but what is a sculpture? Something made by human hands? There are benches and chairs in museums, but why aren't they on display if they're hand made? They have essentially the same criteria as sculpture. Furthermore, there is no "essence" that makes the art of making sculptures similar to the art of poetry. So, I think that any definition of art, at this point, has to be vague and unsatisfying.
I like to consider artifacts that are man made and have aesthetic value are artistic. Artifacts that were made for that express purpose alone are art. That doesn't necessarily mean it's good art, but you might want to have the distinction between good and bad art be possible from your definition.
Maybe I should have made this my own post.

Chris said...

Your own definition only raises more questions with me. In your understanding of artistic, what precisely are aesthetics? Are they the same things as taste? I also have a problem with your assertion that things made solely for aesthetic appreciation are art. No matter what the thing is, people will figure out some way to use or understand it in some unanticipated way. Just ask Jason Bourne.

As far as making the possibility for determining whether art is 'good' or 'bad' implicit in the definition, I don't even want to touch that until I have some idea of whether morality is part of art. To complicate that possibility even more, I believe you have to first distinguish between good artist and good art and then between competent and good creations.

It's a huge freaking tangle that you will only drive you insane as you progress down that path.

So, how do you like the new site design?