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Author Topic: Thoughts on making art  (Read 21188 times)
OnyimBob
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« on: January 25, 2011, 05:29:30 PM »
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My wife and I have been having discussions about what makes art art. Recent posts about Stephen Shore's work also prompted more conversation - both of us watching the video link from Wolfnowl and rereading Shore's book The Nature of Photography.
I have attached a short essay by my wife about her thoughts on making art for your perusal and comment.
Bob.
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RSL
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« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2011, 09:35:13 AM »
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Oh boy, a chance to discuss what makes art art. Didn't we do this once before? Maybe even more than once?

The problem with the term "art" is that it's a lot like the term "blue." What, exactly does that word mean? In a general sense we know what "blue" means: a color that's neither all red nor all green, and not a bit yellow, though a certain amount of contamination with cyan and/or magenta doesn't necessarily make the result "not blue." But what I think of when I say "blue" probably isn't what you think of. I'd be willing to bet that when I say "art" I mean something different from what you think I mean.

Then, there's "fine art," which sells for a lot and is whatever the current "fine art intelligentsia" says it is. It may be a photograph by a long dead photographer, or it may be elephant poop spread over an "installation." It's probably a bit harder to sell the poop for seven figures than it is to sell the photograph for that much, but the number of figures in the price of the photograph is going to be determined to a much greater degree by its scarcity and its provenance than by its visual quality.

I have to take issue with the idea that art expresses ideas. For instance, people who believe they can explain good poetry by explicating the "ideas" in the lines of the poem miss the whole point of the poem, which conveys its effect not by explication but by indirection. If you can put into words what you "learned" from the poem then you missed the significance of the poem. Of course I'm talking about good poetry, which is art, not doggerel, which is not.

And I'd extend that idea to the visual arts. I think that if you can explain the effect of a good painting or a good photograph in words, then either you've missed the point of the image or the image is the visual equivalent of doggerel. Yes, you can describe how the image fits the rule of thirds, or examine how effects such as repetition and the use of triangles contributes to the effectiveness of the composition, but that kind of explanation doesn't even scratch the surface of the image's effect, if it's really art.

So, what makes art art? In my estimation it's just one thing: the work's ability to kick you in the solar plexus. If it doesn't do that, it's doggerel or doggerel's visual equivalent. And in the end, there's no formula that can help you produce art. You have to wing it.
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Rob C
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« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2011, 01:23:46 PM »
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Oh boy, a chance to discuss what makes art art. Didn't we do this once before? Maybe even more than once?

The problem with the term "art" is that it's a lot like the term "blue." What, exactly does that word mean? In a general sense we know what "blue" means: a color that's neither all red nor all green, and not a bit yellow, though a certain amount of contamination with cyan and/or magenta doesn't necessarily make the result "not blue." But what I think of when I say "blue" probably isn't what you think of. I'd be willing to bet that when I say "art" I mean something different from what you think I mean.

Then, there's "fine art," which sells for a lot and is whatever the current "fine art intelligentsia" says it is. It may be a photograph by a long dead photographer, or it may be elephant poop spread over an "installation." It's probably a bit harder to sell the poop for seven figures than it is to sell the photograph for that much, but the number of figures in the price of the photograph is going to be determined to a much greater degree by its scarcity and its provenance than by its visual quality.

I have to take issue with the idea that art expresses ideas. For instance, people who believe they can explain good poetry by explicating the "ideas" in the lines of the poem miss the whole point of the poem, which conveys its effect not by explication but by indirection. If you can put into words what you "learned" from the poem then you missed the significance of the poem. Of course I'm talking about good poetry, which is art, not doggerel, which is not.

And I'd extend that idea to the visual arts. I think that if you can explain the effect of a good painting or a good photograph in words, then either you've missed the point of the image or the image is the visual equivalent of doggerel. Yes, you can describe how the image  the rule of thirds, or examine how effects such as repetition and the use of triangles contributes to the effectiveness of the composition, but that kind of explanation doesn't even scratch the surface of the image's effect, if it's really art.

So, what makes art art? In my estimation it's just one thing: the work's ability to kick you in the solar plexus. If it doesn't do that, it's doggerel or doggerel's visual equivalent. And in the end, there's no formula that can help you produce art. You have to wing it.


......................................................

 + 1  And that's Catch 22.

Rob C
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EduPerez
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« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2011, 04:09:18 PM »
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So, what makes art art? In my estimation it's just one thing: the work's ability to kick you in the solar plexus. If it doesn't do that, it's doggerel or doggerel's visual equivalent.

Another +1!
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Gemmtech
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« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2011, 04:45:02 PM »
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Very old question, why one ponders it with such fervor is beyond me.

"So, what makes art art? In my estimation it's just one thing: the work's ability to kick you in the solar plexus. If it doesn't do that, it's doggerel or doggerel's visual equivalent. And in the end, there's no formula that can help you produce art. You have to wing it."

So after all your pontificating about what makes art "art" you state the obvious and can sum it up with one sentence,

Art, as is with beauty is in the eye of the beholder.


"doggerel"  That's a lousy use of the word, don't you think?  If poop spread over a canvas kicks you in the solar plexus as you state, that's art, right?  

Art, what is art?  Cars, watches, buildings, paintings, photographs, sculpture, houses, clothes, tile work, glass/crystal, sand castles, ice sculpture, songwriters, metal work, stone carving, your 4 year old's picture s/he made for you (that can really hit you in the solar plexus) the list could go on forever.  Obviously a car is not a car and a house is not a house and a painting is not a painting, it certainly would take a lot more skill to produce a Rembrandt portrait than a Warhol.  A Ferrari over a Ford and a Wright over a Ryan

"but the number of figures in the price of the photograph is going to be determined to a much greater degree by its scarcity and its provenance than by its visual quality"

Or possibly what the media has determined.  

I had always wondered when I visit the famous museums around the world, is it truly the "art".  IOW, what made the Mona Lisa famous and priceless?  It can be duplicated in China for a few hundred dollars. While Van Gogh was alive his works weren't worth much, try to buy one today.  As a matter of fact quite a few Van Gogh's were thrown in the garbage, burned, stored and or lost because they just weren't worth anything at the time.  What makes a Van Gogh worth millions today?  I guess it's because the media has made some people believe it hit them in the solar plexus?  (I've learned to appreciate Van Gogh). The song "Vincent" by Don Mclean was certainly worth more than a Van Gogh painting while VG was alive.  Maybe there's something in the song,

"Vincent this world was never meant for one as beautiful as you."

Maybe it just goes back to the beginning, if you don't understand it, you wont consider it art.  So at the end of the day, I don't believe every piece of "art" has to hit you in the solar plexus, you just have to view it for what it is.  Can't we have levels of art?  I'd hate to believe that everything below a Michelangelo, DaVinci, Rembrandt, Frank Llyod Wright, Farina, Harry Winston etc. isn't art.  Both Rembrandt and An-He hit me in the solar plexus, so does a Ferrari, but that doesn't mean I don't consider Warhol or Picasso art, they have the same affect on others that Rembrandt has on me.

What is art?

Art is in the eye of the beholder

Remember, "One man's trash is another man's treasure"
« Last Edit: January 27, 2011, 04:59:28 PM by Gemmtech » Logged
EduPerez
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« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2011, 05:22:17 PM »
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Either something "kicks me in the solar plexus", or I am not interested; the world can play this "is it art?" game till the end of times, I will just move along.
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Gemmtech
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« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2011, 05:41:22 PM »
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"Either something "kicks me in the solar plexus", or I am not interested; the world can play this "is it art?" game till the end of times, I will just move along."

So the only art you consider "art" has to kick YOU in the solar plexus?  Therefore "Art is in the eye of the beholder"  And if I'm understanding what you are saying, you only consider it "art" if it in fact kicks you in the solar plexus?  Art is easily defined for you and it is or isn't?  Are there any levels?  I'm assuming not all art hits you equally in the solar plexus?

The "World" doesn't play any games, the individuals living in the world determine what is art to them. 
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RSL
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« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2011, 06:24:36 PM »
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Hot dog. Somebody who wonders whether or not art is truly art, and who believes you can "understand" art. Well, I guess that's what keeps those "art appreciation" classes going.
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Gemmtech
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« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2011, 07:46:44 PM »
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"And in the end, there's no formula that can help you produce art. You have to wing it."

Can you further explain yourself?  Are you saying art can't be created from an idea that is planned for years?  I don't want to put words in your mouth, but to say "You have to wing it" makes it seem you believe art can only be created in a capricious manner?

"I have to take issue with the idea that art expresses ideas. For instance, people who believe they can explain good poetry by explicating the "ideas" in the lines of the poem miss the whole point of the poem, which conveys its effect not by explication but by indirection. If you can put into words what you "learned" from the poem then you missed the significance of the poem"

Isn't it possible that you just don't understand it yourself?  Why put yourself so far above everybody else intellectually?  As I state below,
"Ignorance is Bliss" and in this case, wellllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll

"Hot dog. Somebody who wonders whether or not art is truly art, and who believes you can "understand" art. Well, I guess that's what keeps those "art appreciation" classes going."

There's an old saying "Ignorance is Bliss"  Just because you believe it to be X doesn't mean it's not Y.  You write as though there is no thought process in the creation of art?  Does the artist understand his/her own art?  Could they verbalize or write what the poem they wrote means?  What they were thinking when they created the art?  

You know, when Einstein wrote The Theory of Relativity it was claimed that only 6 people in the entire world understood it, I suppose that meant it was all nonsense because not enough people understood it?  It must be hell being so intelligent, knowing that nobody can understand what "art" is!  WOW, I can only dream.   Roll Eyes

How does one become the preeminent authority in determining what is art? 
« Last Edit: January 27, 2011, 09:14:25 PM by Gemmtech » Logged
Rob C
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« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2011, 03:50:07 AM »
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"How does one become the preeminent authority in determining what is art?  


By following your example and attacking anything that moves?

Rob C
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Gemmtech
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« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2011, 07:31:33 AM »
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"By following your example and attacking anything that moves?

Rob C"

I haven't attacked anything or anybody!  "Art" has always intrigued me, simply because of the affect it has on people.  One man's definition of what "art" is, is just that, one man's definition.  I don't claim to have the answer of what makes art other than it's a fairly easy conclusion, art is in the eye of the beholder.  Sometimes it's like religion and it's just blind faith.  I believe that there are certain pieces that everybody appreciates; however there seems to be a lot more that some love, like, are indifferent or dislike.  I've never liked Picasso or Warhol (The Warhol Museum is within a couple miles of me), I don't think that makes their works non-art because it doesn't hit me in the solar plexus, well other than the fact how expensive they are  Wink      

If somebody copies a Rembrandt, DaVinci etc. to perfection whereas it fools everybody, is the copy art?  It has happened and I'm sure most if not all here could easily be fooled.  What would you do if a forgery hit you in the solar plexus?

I would ask, can a photograph be art?  If one photographs a mountain or an iceberg, is the object the art or the photograph?  The great photographers don't seem to "wing it", they are very methodical in time of day selection, checking the lighting, right camera with the right lens, etc.  They put in all this effort in order to get just the right shot; however the object is already there.  Is the object art or the photograph of it?  I'd argue a painter using models is different, because it's their individual interpretation of what they see being put to canvas.

This Warhol sold for $44 million dollars, so it probably hit somebody in the solar plexus very hard!  Oh, and their wallet.

Is it art?
« Last Edit: January 28, 2011, 07:51:03 AM by Gemmtech » Logged
RSL
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« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2011, 09:11:49 AM »
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Andy sells for big bucks because (1) the "fine art community" has designated his output "fine art," (2) his works are "scarce," and (3) Andy's dead. When someone buys a Warhol it's an "investment." What a Warhol hits you in is either your vanity or your greed. It certainly doesn't hit you in your solar plexus. Does that mean Warhol's stuff isn't art? Yes. Well... it may be a little more arty than elephant poop.

Keep attending those "art appriciation" classes.
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Rob C
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« Reply #12 on: January 28, 2011, 10:17:17 AM »
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If somebody copies a Rembrandt, DaVinci etc. to perfection whereas it fools everybody, is the copy art?  It has happened and I'm sure most if not all here could easily be fooled.  What would you do if a forgery hit you in the solar plexus?



Yes, in my personal view, if it's that good it is art. Perhaps, no, certainly not original art but art nonetheless. As for anything hitting the plexus or not, I don't think it really has to do quite that; art can be a simple 'thank you' card, a little personal billet-doux or even a beautifully presented plate of food. It lives within many places and is usually fairly easy to spot.

Not all art requires mastery of the medium, either. Some kids show it early and some never will; some come to it late in life and others drift from one expression of it to the next. It's what drives people to self-expression of something other than violence, though I expect that, too, can be done artistically à la kung fu.

Rob C
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Gemmtech
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« Reply #13 on: January 28, 2011, 10:36:51 AM »
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"Andy sells for big bucks because (1) the "fine art community" has designated his output "fine art," (2) his works are "scarce," and (3) Andy's dead. When someone buys a Warhol it's an "investment." What a Warhol hits you in is either your vanity or your greed. It certainly doesn't hit you in your solar plexus. Does that mean Warhol's stuff isn't art? Yes. Well... it may be a little more arty than elephant poop."

Isn't that a "little" arrogant?  You have all the answers?   Who makes up the "fine art community"  How do you know that everybody who purchases a Warhol is doing so as an investment?  So a Warhol can never hit anybody in the solar plexus?  How do you know this?  

"Keep attending those "art appriciation" classes."  

I have never been to an art appreciation class, but I wouldn't be adverse to doing so!  Getting another persons opinion regarding what they see in a piece of art is interesting to me, but then again I'm not the end be all on what constitutes art, whether it be decent, good or great.  I know people who love Warhol and Picasso; I don't, perhaps it is my lack of understanding, perhaps it just doesn't hit me. I believe it is possible to read about an artist's life in order to create an understanding of what he was trying to convey.  I truly believe all artists are trying to convey their thoughts, feelings, their inner soul through their medium of choice.  Something is going through an artist's cranium as he creates the art.  I'll concede that I'm amazed when people can tell by the brush stroke what the painter was thinking!  I wonder if it's possible to know what the photographer was thinking by his shutter speed or f-stop of choice?  Other than what it will look like?  Wink

"As for anything hitting the plexus or not, I don't think it really has to do quite that; art can be a simple 'thank you' card, a little personal billet-doux or even a beautifully presented plate of food. It lives within many places and is usually fairly easy to spot."

I think that's a wonderful explanation!

"Not all art requires mastery of the medium, either. Some kids show it early and some never will; some come to it late in life and others drift from one expression of it to the next. It's what drives people to self-expression of something other than violence, though I expect that, too, can be done artistically à la kung fu."

Agreed, though the Martial Arts aren't about violence. And yes, it is an art form, I should know!


« Last Edit: January 28, 2011, 02:12:54 PM by Gemmtech » Logged
RSL
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« Reply #14 on: January 28, 2011, 10:42:57 AM »
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Would you pay five bucks to put that Warhol on your living room wall so you could look at it every day? I suspect that if you bought it for 44 mil and put it on your wall it would be to demonstrate something to your visitors. What do you suppose that something would be?
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Gemmtech
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« Reply #15 on: January 28, 2011, 10:53:20 AM »
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"Would you pay five bucks to put that Warhol on your living room wall so you could look at it every day? I suspect that if you bought it for 44 mil and put it on your wall it would be to demonstrate something to your visitors. What do you suppose that something would be?"

If you are asking me as an individual, you will get my opinion!  I wouldn't give you .05 for that Warhol because I don't like it.  Though I do appreciate the amount of time it must have taken to create; it just doesn't seem to be overly creative to me.  

Obviously you believe (and it might be true) that the person (oops, I almost called him an idiot  Wink) who paid $44 million for that Warhol did so to impress his family and friends?  I have to believe in this case you are right, but truth be told, I don't know.  Maybe this man looks at the dollar bill as art (it is, isn't it?) and putting 200 together is incredible art in his eyes!  It certainly has proven to be a great investment for the prior owner, I believe he paid less than $500k for it.

The question then goes to the other 7 billion people on the planet, does that Warhol hit you in the solar plexus?  I do like that statement BTW, because great art does take one's breath away.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2011, 10:55:20 AM by Gemmtech » Logged
RSL
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« Reply #16 on: January 28, 2011, 11:58:17 AM »
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If you are asking me as an individual, you will get my opinion!

How about if I asked you as a group?

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Though I do appreciate the amount of time it must have taken to create; it just doesn't seem to be overly creative to me.

How about ditches? Do you appreciate the amount of time it takes to create a ditch? And some ditches can be pretty creative. Does that make them art?

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Obviously you believe (and it might be true) that the person (oops, I almost called him an idiot  Wink) who paid $44 million for that Warhol did so to impress his family and friends?  I have to believe in this case you are right, but truth be told, I don't know.

Absolutely. Above all, we want to be fair.

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The question then goes to the other 7 billion people on the planet, does that Warhol hit you in the solar plexus?  I do like that statement BTW, because great art does take one's breath away.

Now you're getting the picture, Gemm. But you're right. It's all in the eye of the beholder. That's why talking about what makes art art is such an absurdly futile passtime.

But sometimes it can be a lot of fun.
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Gemmtech
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« Reply #17 on: January 28, 2011, 12:11:37 PM »
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How about if I asked you as a group?

The way your sentence is/was formatted it could be interpreted as an individual and or group.  That's why I clarified it, get it now?

RSL
"How about ditches? Do you appreciate the amount of time it takes to create a ditch? And some ditches can be pretty creative. Does that make them art?"

Now we are discussing skills, I do appreciate the amount of time it took to create, I believe it is implied there is a certain set of skills associated with the creation.  And you are correct, there are some ditches which could be considered art, how about this one?  Wink

« Last Edit: January 28, 2011, 02:14:25 PM by Gemmtech » Logged
RSL
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« Reply #18 on: January 28, 2011, 12:24:30 PM »
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The way your sentence is/was formatted it could be interpreted as an individual and or group.  That's why I clarified it, get it now?

Well, it's true that the object of  the pronoun "you" can be singular or plural. Perhaps I should have used the appropriate forms of "thou," which, if substituted in that sentence would have to be taken as singular. But most gnats don't call for that much strain.

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Now we are discussing skills, I do appreciate the amount of time it took to create, I believe it is implied there is a certain set of skills associated with the creation.  And you are correct, there are some ditches which could be considered art, how about this one?  Wink

Ahhh... That one was created by The Creator. It took a lot of skill, and a whole lot of time, and it definitely kicks you in the solar plexus, so there's no doubt it's art.

See what fun it is to discuss nonsensical things.
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ChrisS
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« Reply #19 on: January 28, 2011, 12:39:15 PM »
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RSL - Maybe you just don't get it. You don't seem to consider that possibility at all. Do you have any sense of humility, or do you just reckon you have all the answers?
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