Accidental Art

Statistically speaking, I wonder how often art happens by accident?
Or is it only art if it is photographed or documented?
I present to you this image from the Boston Globe:

Is the accident the art or is the photographer, Winslow Townson for The Boston Globe the true artist?

The original story from the Globe is here.

Amy Roth

Amy Davis Roth (aka Surly Amy) is a multimedia, science-loving artist who resides in Los Angeles, California. She makes Surly-Ramics and is currently in love with pottery. Daily maker of art and leader of Mad Art Lab. Support her on Patreon. Tip Jar is here.

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  1. It’s a really interesting question. My first thought would be that rather than one work that you need to assign an artist to, what we have are two separate works: the event, and the photograph. The truck-driver, or whomever it is, becomes the accidental artist of the first work, with the photographer that of the second.

    On the other hand, you could also treat it like found art, the way Duchamp did of the urinal and bicycle wheel, etc. Which would limit the ‘artist’ rolse to the photographer… hmmm….

  2. I think it’s art if someone appreciates it as such. If none of the cleanup crew had given it any thought and the photographer never showed, it wouldn’t have been art. But the second one of the people on-site went, “Man, this looks awesome“, it became art, and the photographer just helped increase its audience. Or the moment the photographer thought it was worth preserving. Or even if the photographer just took the photo strictly for reference purposes, it became art when the first viewer of the photo identified it as such.

    That’s one of the big considerations with a concept that is completely subjective.

  3. This reminds me of a case in 2006, where an artist submitted to The Royal Academy a statue of his own head, on a plinth. In transit the two were separated, and the judges saw the head and the plinth separately. The latter, which was never supposed to be art at all, was judged to be Good Art; the former was rejected.

    Art is a collaboration between the creator — if there is one — and the consumer. There’s a lot to be said for creating a work with depth and meaning, but the true test of an artwork is if any depth and meaning come across to viewers. And if viewers read depth and meaning into arbitrary things they chance across…? Well, it quacks like art, and that’ll do me.

  4. @andrew: A long time ago I saw a cartoon along those lines. A sculptor stood thinking before a large, rectangular block of stone. Struck by inspiration, he raised his hammer and chisel and carved a tiny chunk from the middle of one edge. Ecstatic with his success, he brought in a collector to see his work. Gesturing grandly toward the vast block, he proclaimed, “I call it Man’s Inhumanity Toward Man!” “I’ll take it!” said the collector, bent at the waist to better see the small chip of stone lying on the floor. “Can you put it in a bag for me?”

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