Art Inquisition: What IS Art, anyway?
One of our local skeptics’ group members recently created a Facebook post that simply said, “I’m skeptical about art,” with a link to an article entitled “I’m Sick of Pretending: I Don’t ‘Get’ Art.” Within were a plethora of pictures depicting some of the more ridiculous art-y things he’d seen at a recent opening. Collection of found objects? Check. Art of the “my three-year-old could do THAT!” variety? Check. Silly hats? Check. Uncomfortable nudity? Check. Video installation? Check. This guy probably won Modern Art Bingo without even trying.
But this is exactly the type of exhibition that gets pointed at when folks are getting all antsy about what is or is not art. Does it have to be representational or ‘realistic’? Does it have to be pretty? Does it have to be flat? Part of the problem with deciding what capital-A Art is that it’s like trying to define capital-S Science.
In one of my sculpture classes, the whole studio was shared by multiple classes. By the end of the semester, there was so much STUFF all over the place that it was well-nigh impossible to tell what was trash and what was someone’s carefully-arranged project. Literal piles of trash were lying around the studio because none of the students wanted to be the one to destroy someone’s work. If you can’t tell whether or not it’s art, is it art?
Some people think art is only the stuff you’d hang on the walls to show off to guests. Some think that anything you put in a frame is art. Others think it’s not art unless it’s making someone uncomfortable. Still others just say it’s art because they said so. And maybe anything on display in a museum gets the title of Art, regardless of whether we agree with the curators. But what do you think? What is art? Does art need to be defined or have parameters beyond what the creator decides they are? What transforms something from a collection of discarded items into a collector’s piece? Who should get to decide what art is? Do you “get” art?
The ART Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Mad Art Lab community. It used to appear on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 3pm ET… maybe we’ll just try for Wednesdays this go ’round. Make with the comments!