Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Is This Art?

When I was in NY recently, I made my first visit to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).  Now I am not a big fan of what is dubbed 'modern art'.  Though there was a variety of paintings, photographs, and objects of design that I enjoyed and found interesting.  But, there were many exhibits such like the one in this picture, that made me realize why so many people are intimidated and have an aversion to art, myself included.  

If you're not sure what you're looking at in this photo, its bundles of old flattened cardboard boxes stacked among scaffolding atop a 9 feet high walled structure.  No, I wasn't in a storage room.  This was an actual art exhibit.

Now as an artist, I don't usually like to criticize another persons artwork.  My issue here is not whether this is good or bad art.  My quandary is, is this art?  When did the 'art world' decide stuff like this was art?  It may be interesting, it might make you think, but is that enough to make it art?

Somewhere along the way it seems someone decided art needs to be intellectual, profound, and just plain hard. I don't buy into that.  It's emotive, something you can relate to, for the eyes and the heart. It's not science or even philosophy.  Art can make you think but shouldn't force you.

I know art is one of those subjective things, and I did not go to art school, so maybe I am simply missing something here.  But for me art should posses 3 basic criteria; creativity, visual appeal, and exhibit skilled talent.  Now I know my own artwork may not be every ones cup of tea, but I think most would still call it art, bad or good.  I don't particularly like or always get abstract art but I do see that it's creative, the shapes and colors often have visual appeal, and I see the talent behind it.  So what about the stack of boxes?  I suppose you could say there is some creativity in that someone was creative enough to take those old bundles of cardboard and call it art. Is it visually appealing?  Did it require a special talent?

Is 'art' such a vague concept that it can be diluted, tossed around and stuck on anything? Has it lost so much meaning that we need others to tell us what is and isn't art?  Just because someone says something is art does it make it so? Just don't serve me a turd and tell me it's lunch.  I was going to say, 'don't show me a turd and call it art' but that's already been done (Google feces, art).


Kevin said...

I'll take your Art over a modern "installation" any day.

William said...

To be fair I have your book sitting on my coffe table and many of my friends have asked, "why do you leve that porn lying out?"
I have also run into a simmlar proplem with my comics work. Many don't see comic books as art. Never mind the fact that I went to a fine arts college and boild down comics are a mix of different art forms and techniques. I guess art like bueaty is in the eye of the beholder!

Michael Breyette said...

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye."
— Miss Piggy

Blogking said...

For the art lovers out there, why cram beautiful artwork into a closet when you have the option to make sure that they are safe and not in danger of destruction.