What Is Art?

Personal Professional Development

I have no idea; I do not think I will ever know the answer to this. I remember going to the Tate in London earlier this year and I saw the work of Barnett Newman. I can specifically remember this one painting of a red canvas, completely bare yet full of thoughts, feelings and expressions. Everyone else laughed and said it didn’t deserve to be there, but I on the over hand thought it was beautiful. Its so simple yet there is so much passion and anger. Two different colours: hundreds of emotions. But am I making this up? Is this art? There are so many questions to be asked about what art actually is.

Do we need to produce art physically to call it art? Or can we consider a live performance or something off the Internet art?

How do we define art? The viewer’s opinions or the intentions of the artist to ‘back it up’? Or should art speak for itself?

Does it matter if its just originality or do we need a firm concept? Can we have both? Or is it in fact craftsman ship that effects what we call art? Does art rely on controversy and interest of the piece? Do we have to be moved by at?

Does the fact we have copyright effect art? Why do we even have these restrictions and regulations?

Who actually sees the work of art? The people mainly going to galleries and exhibitions are upper class to middle class people; but does this effect art? I think another important aspect is the fact that we have prizes for art; how do we judge what art piece is better than another? Take the turner prize for example; the ‘judges’ are people who have occupations like directions and curators. Is this right?

Artisan vs. science, this is the key difference between photography and art. Artists tend to have a distinct craftsmanship and skill, whereas photography is a tool, it has to be learnt, and most importantly it has a much more academic approach in terms of knowing the different chemicals and the technical side to knowing how to take a photograph. Is having different art practices like Graphic Design, textiles and sculpting, effect what we can call art?

Charlotte Cottons, ‘From The Photograph as Contemporary Art’, has some really interesting points and I would definitely check this book out if you want to read further into to this concept. She has good points, but also quite questionable points.

So what is art? I have no idea what the answer to this question is, and I do not believe that many people know either, however will understanding what art is and exploring these questions affect art being made? No. I can safely say that art will be made for as long as we’re alive, as we need it.

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