YankeeJim | October 24, 2009 at 01:09 pmby
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Let us begin with the notion of purpose. If my purpose were to explain art to my 85 year old Dad, my effort would be futile. There is no purpose in explaining art to the old because they will never gain appreciation much less understanding unless they previously acquired such understanding. It might be interesting to gain some insight into how people who believe they “know art” gain such appreciation.
Do the artful knowing acquire art appreciation from academic study, from cultural development somehow led by their elders, by attending lectures by David Hickey, and by hanging with a crowd who cast their votes with acquisitions? Do they read intellectual magazines and journals, or participate in social networking groups whose membership shape appreciation through dialogue or more effortful critique?
Does art matter anymore, and if so to whom and for what purpose?
Art is the product of human creativity, and oh what a broad and inclusive definition this is. Under such definition a clever business or invention might be art. That is an artful pizza or an artful automobile? The artful pizza is all white and the auto has three wheels? The definition is too broad and inclusive, don’t you think?
Hickey might like this definition better, “art is the creation of beautiful or significant things.” At a lecture, I heard him say that he loves beautiful objects. I bet the trouble begins when one tries to determine what is significant.
Significant means that the outcome has an effect or recognizable impact in some context. When an artist produces something that is unique and different relative to other artists’ efforts, it must be considered significant, I guess. The artist, Chris Ofili, who crafted an image of the Holy Virgin Mary from elephant dung, was considered significant.
In his hometown where some people live in houses made from elephant dung, the significance was surely lost.
Likewise, for the artist who makes sculpture from clunker autos will find little significance in a community that adorns their front lawns with such media.
Another definition of art places emphasis on superior skill. Is it possible to be an artist without crafty skills? Is it possible to be an artist without training? Is it possible for an artist to produce something that is not particularly a solution to a problem, but more, an expression or reaction to ones environment?
Since edgy art tends to defy any preexisting conditions, maybe the pursuit of art for understanding is misplaced. Just maybe, we should be intentional with our aim to be perpetually confounded by it such that artists can at last have their ultimate freedom. Surprise me and I will misunderstand it completely. You may now run your victory lap.