Quick Thought: What is Art?

Elsewhere on the internet, I responded to a comment about the definition of art.

In part, the comment said this:

Art is an expression that I just let happen for it’s own sake

I responded with:

Sounds more like an out of body experience than art! The definition you’re using is probably familiar to us all, but I would consider it a poor and self-destructive corruption of the concept of art. Art need not be useless, and it certainly doesn’t just happen.

Art must necessarily be the exercise of skill. If it is highly skilled, layered, nuanced, surprising, etc., then it may be great art. If it’s simple, easily achieved or uninteresting then it may be trivial art. There’s no sense having a definition of art that excludes mediocre or uninspired art. Such a definition would hinder communicating, and perhaps even thinking about the subject.

Art never appreciates itself. In this sense, it ought not exist for it’s own sake, and I would venture to say there are no examples of such a thing. Art may find its primary purpose in communication, entertainment or aesthetics.

To say a work of art exists for it’s own sake is probably…
1) a misunderstanding of its purpose, or
2) a clumsy attempt to say it’s primary purpose is aesthetic, or
3) a way to deflect criticism, or
4) an attempt at raising art to level of deity, as something to be worshiped.

The first two possibilities are unartful, but the last two are a threat to art itself, since any work of man that is insulated from criticism or raised to the status of deity can be expected to degenerate rather than to improve.

Just a thought.


tiny lantern

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s