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Thread: What is Art?

  1. #1
    Registered User Edmond's Avatar
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    What is Art?

    I have a good question

    What is Art?

    Yesterday, my teacher took a pencil from my me and asked is this art? And the whole class wasn't able to give a straight answer, perhaps in this forum some hidden intellectual can show me the answer

    I want to listen to what you guys think, then post my own opinion
    Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorius triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.
    -Theodore Roosevelt

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    freakishly random Lauralou's Avatar
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    I think a pencil is art; as a small child I'd beg my mother to buy me the fancy pencils because I thought they were pretty. To me art is anything a human being consciously creates be it objects, drawings, writing, music, or movement. Just because a pencil seems common place doesn't take away the fact that it was designed by people which make it a work of art. However this is just my opinion I'm sure many people would disagree.

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    Smile samercury's Avatar
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    I agree Lauralou. Art can be anything and everything- it doesn't have to be designed. A pencil qualifies as art in my opinion. Just take a look at one- they're so facinating...

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    unidentified hit record blp's Avatar
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    There's a nice passage about a pencil in 'Transparent Things' by Nabokov. For me, that passage is art, but not the pencil itself. Commonplace subject matter is excellent for art. Really interesting subject matter stands on its own and doesn't leave enough for art to do.

    Yes, a pencil can be fascinating to look at. So can the surface of a desk or the marks on a window pane or any number of seemingly simple objects. But art is artifice. You take these things or any things and frame them in a way and talk about them in a way that provides the interest, even in the absence of the actuality of those things. You find relationships between different things, or create them, for instance.

    There's a strain of 20th Century art, beginning, fairly decisively, with Duchamp, that makes the things present, that uses the objects, largely unmodified, as the artwork. The artwork arrives 'readymade' for the artist by industrial processes. Duchamp chose objects that were largely dull, mass produced, lacking aesthetic qualities, easy to purchase in ordinary stores, and called them artworks. Sometimes he made tiny changes to them, buying a shovel and writing the title on the handle: 'in advance of the broken arm', mounting a bicycle wheel on a stool or signing a urinal with the pseudonym R. Mutt. Sometimes he made no changes at all. But Duchamp's readymades do not seem to function as objects of contemplation. The point is not to say that anything can be fascinating if you look at it enough, therefore an artwork. The point is still to talk about systems of relations between objects - between the readymades, their processes of creation, viewers and purchasers of art and their expectations and the artist. Although the objects are made present, they still, like more traditional artworks, point to things that are absent, notably the artist who is pointed to particularly strongly as the one who has designated the object an artwork.

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    Registered User Edmond's Avatar
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    I am glad to see the Duchamp in the post, yesterday I came up with a shortlist, this list tells you whether something is An Art work or not

    1. Has to exist
    2. Must have Romantic quality
    3. Romantic quality must be higher then classical quality
    4. Must be created by a human(s), (computers, pencils, etc are mediums)
    5. Must have a purpose, "to have no purpose" like Duchamp is also to have a purpose
    6. Must invoke a human thought process, emotion.

    This is the list for those of you who wants to have only one definition of Art, but there is another answer, Art is subjective, what ever your opinion on art is, that consititute your definition of Art.

    It is kind of pointless really, which is what's so neat about philosophy
    Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorius triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.
    -Theodore Roosevelt

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    In libris libertas Aurora Ariel's Avatar
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    Does anyone have any thoughts on Tolstoy's, What is Art?
    He writes ( p 50) from What is Art?: 'To evoke in oneself a feeling one had experienced, and having invoked it in oneself, then, by means of movements, lines, colours, sounds or forms expressed in words, so to transmit that feeling that others may experience the same feeling- this is the activity of art.Art is a human activity, consisting in this, that one may consciously, by means of certain external signs, hand on to others the feelings he lived through, and that other people are infected by these feelings, and also experience then.'

    'Tolstoy thinks that poets and other artists in some way infect those
    who read or see their productions with feelings which these productions portray.'

    I first read this about 6 months ago, but what do you think about these comments of Tolstoy?Do poets infect you in some way?What is the spirit of poetry?An essence of immortality or web of thoughts?Is something fading or been grown?Is there a forgotten Spirit of Love and Beauty?The best poetry never decays as it survives different forces and is still read.I've read other comments about the theory of art from others, but this one came to mind.
    My own brain is to me the most unaccountable of machinery --always buzzing, humming, soaring, roaring, diving, and then buried in mud. And why? What's this passion for?
    -Virginia Woolf

    “I want to write a novel about Silence,” he said; “the things people don’t say. But the difficulty is immense.” He sighed. - Night and Day

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    I agree with you Ariel. I think we don't just create our own definitions of art, the definition we have, may influence by our fav authors, poets, musicians, painters, etc. Also, our values and norms may also interfere in our "judgement". Ok, a pencil on a table can be considered as a form of art by some people, but for others it is nothing. A picture of a naked woman can be called an artowrk, but for people who have strong religious backgrounds, may considered it as inapproriate. We have one case here, in my country, where a local actor modelled almost naked in a phot exhibition, and the result: is few people considered the pose as art and many scold him and demand an apology from him for breaking "eaastern" values (in this case politeness). Though I don't really agree with the things listed by Edmon, but I agree that there are special guidelines to determine something as an art or not.

    Everyone can write poem or sing, but not everyone can be a poet/singer

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    Registered User Edmond's Avatar
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    This conversation hasn't been going anywhere, you guys still didn
    t explain what Art is, my list is a way to actualy make the subjective definition into something all people can understand. Now let's carry the conversation further, is Art a product of the artist, or a product of the Audience?
    Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorius triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.
    -Theodore Roosevelt

  9. #9
    unidentified hit record blp's Avatar
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    In Jean Luc Godard's film 'Pierrot le Fou', the American film director Samuel Fuller is asked why he makes films and replies 'Emotion'.

    In Joyce's 'A Portrait of the Artist as Young Man', Stephen Daedalus posits the question of whether if a man hacks away randomly at a piece of wood with an axe and accidentally produces a perfect sculpture of a cow's head, it should be considered art.

    In 'The Critique of Pure Reason', Kant makes a distinction between A priori truths, which are eternal and do not depend on evidentiary proof or experience to be known and empirical truths, which do. Discussing attempts to devise a scientific system for the achievement of artistic beauty, he says it's impossible because artistic beauty is inextricably linked with the empirical, which is changeable, not eternal. I think that's what he says anyway. It's a really hard read.

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    Not politically correct Pendragon's Avatar
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    Art is a form of communication. When the artist manages to convey their intermost feelings through their chosen mediea to their chosen audience, then that is art. If you cannot feel the emotion of the moment, the expression of the artist, then perhaps they were not creating this particuliar work for you, but for someone else. When I write poetry or songs they don't say the same thing to everyone, and some of my darker poetry might be termed "shocking". But to others it may convey the emotions and feelings I felt as I wrote, thus making art out of words.
    Some of us laugh
    Some of us cry
    Some of us smoke
    Some of us lie
    But it's all just the way
    that we cope with our lives...

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    IMO, someone produces something and people(in your term "audience") who see/listen/touch/use it, give that product a value. The value may vary, which depends on each audience social/educational/political/religious/cultural backgrounds.

    Quote Originally Posted by Edmond
    is Art a product of the artist, or a product of the Audience?
    Last edited by subterranean; 10-08-2005 at 01:53 AM.

  12. #12
    Registered User Edmond's Avatar
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    better, my opinion is kind a fusion of your opinions, i kept trying to convincing my peers that Art is a language, that conveys emotions and thoughts, if you think about it, this definition applies for all the art that I know of, so art should be independent of the Audience, it should be art just because of the creator. But, my teacher brought up Commedia Dell'arte, where the actors actually creates emotions, body language, and stick only loosely to the script, so are the actors making "art"?
    Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorius triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.
    -Theodore Roosevelt

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    A great book to read in your inquiry on the definition of art is Lewis Hyde's, "Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property." Hyde believes that art is a gift and there are 3 forms of the gift that function in the completion of a piece. The first is the initial thought of that artist or creative idea, the second is the ability to create the work, and the third is the final product or piece of canvas/published text.

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    My avatar is a painting by E. E. Cummings in title of "Nude Trio". Now, when you look at it, do you consider it as art or not?
    I give value to this painting and yes, to use your term, I feel something when I see it thus I decided to have it as my avatar. Same feelings applied when I choose Salvador Dali's painting and used it as my previous avatar.
    So how can it be independent of the audience?
    In the sense of production, I do think that some artists created something out of audience's values, means they produced what they wanted to produced regardless of the audience's expectations.. In this case, they are independent from the audience.
    But that's just what I think as my knowledge is very limited in this area.


    Quote Originally Posted by Edmond
    better, my opinion is kind a fusion of your opinions, i kept trying to convincing my peers that Art is a language, that conveys emotions and thoughts, if you think about it, this definition applies for all the art that I know of, so art should be independent of the Audience, it should be art just because of the creator..

  15. #15
    unidentified hit record blp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lep250
    Hyde believes that art is a gift and there are 3 forms of the gift that function in the completion of a piece. The first is the initial thought of that artist or creative idea, the second is the ability to create the work, and the third is the final product or piece of canvas/published text.
    The idea of art as a gift goes a long way, though probably not all the way to defining art. I'm not sure what the three stages tell us though. In some ways it just seems to be stating the obvious. But then also, there are plenty of instances where the demarcations between those stages break down, e.g. when a painter or poet doesn't start with any idea, but finds the work in the making of it or when that kind of process is presented as the work by a performance artist.

    Edmond, the idea that art is a language seems to me to have problems. It's true that art's a network of relations and probably true that it's used for communication - probably - but a language is something one acquires and then largely takes for granted. Artists seem to have to keep finding new forms or making old ones new and often this process is one that deliberately thwarts obvious readings, hence, it would seem, opposes communication. Of course, you never really stop communicating until you're dead or in a vegetative state, so even if some art appears to aspire to this muteness (late Beckett perhaps or Robert Morris), it's still communicating something about this aspiration. OK, so there's probably always a communication and a gift, even if it's only the artist communicating with themselves (e.g. Emily Dickinson), but even if they're a writer and using language, you might just as easily say that their efforts point to the inadequacy of language for certain communications and the need for something else that is not language. Not language, but art. This might be short for artfulness, which is to say, a certain cunning.
    Last edited by blp; 10-10-2005 at 08:05 AM.

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