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But is it art?

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BoogieMonster
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« Reply #15 on: June 19, 2012, 10:11:05 AM »

I have found that I have a more intrigued response to artworks that are 'old'. Something I know shouldn't be, but is.

One time I stood in a gallery admiring a quite ordinary painting of a croissant, some grapes, table setting, etc... executed beautifully. But what struck me was the vividness of that painting, calling out to me from across the ages. I noticed the details, the construction of table, the tablecloth... all transporting me back in time to another era. Did the artist ever contemplate that 100's of years later a man "from the future" would be standing there contemplating back at his thoughts, techniques, setting, etc? More intriguingly, people from the same era wouldn't have given subject a second thought. Moreover, there is probably a lot of art out there that we don't give a second thought, but which may appeal to people in the distant future much more, due to it reflecting our age.

Arty people like to carry on about the importance of the "provenance" of a piece, and I do think it does make a difference to the appreciation of a work. Not so?
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Mefiante
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« Reply #16 on: June 19, 2012, 10:41:08 AM »

It’s upwards of 1.3 million times as complicated as that…

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spoedniek
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« Reply #17 on: June 19, 2012, 10:51:57 AM »



ugh, back to the real world then...  Smiley
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brianvds
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« Reply #18 on: June 19, 2012, 11:43:36 AM »

aimed at affecting an observer emotionally
Emotional response to the work would be the first subjective part. It could conceivably be measured by considering the responses of say, 30 individuals right after exposing them to the work. Score e= 0 to 1.

What about illustration, which is often intended to be accurate rather than to elicit an emotional response? I find that if it is very well executed, it sometimes elicits an emotional response anyway, in the same way that any display of technical virtuosity will. But the whole intention of the paintings of birds or plants in your field guide is to allow you to recognize them, not to convey any deeper meaning. Yet, at least to me, they are often more magnificent as art than most of what I see in galleries nowadays.

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brianvds
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« Reply #19 on: June 19, 2012, 11:48:21 AM »

Arty people like to carry on about the importance of the "provenance" of a piece, and I do think it does make a difference to the appreciation of a work. Not so?


It shouldn't make a difference, but I guess it does, looking at some old painting and realizing that this was touched by the master's hand, and viewed by people who would find our age utterly alien. Still, there is too much hype about that too, e.g. the way in which an old painting suddenly acquires or loses value if it is discovered that it was/wasn't made by some big name in art. Goya's "The colossus" comes to mind. Well, not by Goya, as it turned out, and now suddenly its monetary value has plummeted and it has been demoted in general. But I think it is a pretty neat piece of painting, Goya or not. If it was great work before we discovered it's not his, then why is it suddenly no longer a great work when we discover it isn't his?

This effect is of course even more marked in modern art, where the "my four year-old kid could do that"-effect is at play. With such works, their ONLY is the signature on them.

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« Reply #20 on: June 19, 2012, 12:21:21 PM »

As for Brett Murray's "Spear", I thouht the concept was great, but there were probably better ways of executing it other than the slap-dash looking application of cartoonish genetalia where a loose belt buckle and open zipper (a-la Zapiro) woul have conveyed the message just as strongly.
Actually I like the execution.  The perspective bringing the genitals to eye level, the Leninesque pose, the political poster style and the red and black colour scheme all contribute to a very intimidating sexual/political portrayal.  Zapiro is an excellent artist in his own right, but with an emphasis on ridicule rather than intimidation.  
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Rigil Kent
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« Reply #21 on: June 19, 2012, 12:44:04 PM »

What about illustration, which is often intended to be accurate rather than to elicit an emotional response?

Brian, I don't think an illustration where the draftsman merely aims to inform should qualify as art, however skillfully executed. The intent to convey emotion is lacking. Its sort of like the difference between manslaughter and murder isn't it? Undecided

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brianvds
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« Reply #22 on: June 19, 2012, 18:29:27 PM »

What about illustration, which is often intended to be accurate rather than to elicit an emotional response?

Brian, I don't think an illustration where the draftsman merely aims to inform should qualify as art, however skillfully executed. The intent to convey emotion is lacking. Its sort of like the difference between manslaughter and murder isn't it? Undecided

Rigil

Go tell that to illustrators. :-)

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Rigil Kent
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« Reply #23 on: June 19, 2012, 21:53:12 PM »

Go tell that to illustrators. :-)
See no reason why they should mind, as there is nothing that necessarily makes an artistic drawing superior to a technical one.  They serve different purposes, and are good at totally different things. A technical drawing of, say, a bird in a field guide must obviously be more accurate than it's possibly more whimsical artistically rendered counterpart.

There is yet another possibility, namely that of decoration or craft, such as a bird motif embroidered on a scatter cushion or a napkin.

Rigil
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brianvds
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« Reply #24 on: June 20, 2012, 05:56:43 AM »

Go tell that to illustrators. :-)

See no reason why they should mind, as there is nothing that necessarily makes an artistic drawing superior to a technical one.  They serve different purposes, and are good at totally different things. A technical drawing of, say, a bird in a field guide must obviously be more accurate than it's possibly more whimsical artistically rendered counterpart.

There is yet another possibility, namely that of decoration or craft, such as a bird motif embroidered on a scatter cushion or a napkin.

Rigil


It seems to me that just about any category, whether it be art, music or horses, will have somewhat fuzzy borders. Some things will definitely fall within the category, other things will definitely be outside of it, but on the borderline there will always be things that are debatable. Is a zebra a horse? How about Eohippus?

Thus endless debate about what art is, is probably pointless, because the debate mostly concerns the fuzzy borders. I had this discussion the other day with a guy who is vehemently opposed to modern art, and he disagreed with me, but I think he was just very much disturbed by the possibility that fuzzy borders would keep on shifting until everything he hates about modern art ends up being dignified with the term "art." Thus he accused me of being a postmodernist relativist etc., even though my tastes in art are actually quite conservative. :-)

There was a time not too long ago when there was no clear distinction between illustration and fine art. What is Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel frescoes other than a series of illustrations of bits and pieces from the Bible? Many of them would actually not at all look out of place in a modern graphic novel:



The Pope would have had him strung up had he simply pushed his unmade bed into the chapel, methinks. I think the distinction between the two originated partly when illustrated books became widely available, but also because artists began suffering physics envy. Thus they (well, some of them) wanted to portray what they did as something of a philosophical, intellectual pursuit rather than what was increasingly thought of as "mere" craft. And so we ended up with an aloof, intellectual-sounding terminology: words like juxtaposition and dualism and post-industrial feminism started creeping into reviews. There was ever less craft and ever more concept. In many art schools, especially at university art departments, learning the basics of drawing was even thrown out the window altogether as being old-fashioned.

Lucky for us illustrators kept those skills alive or we would have lost everything that their predecessors took several centuries to learn. It seems to me that art really is a craft far more than an intellectual pursuit, and that in our egalitarian age, it is high time that we stopped thinking of that as some sort of insult to artists. I do not know of a single highly skilled artist that would mind in the least to be called a skilled craftsman. Quite the contrary. And the ones going on about "mere" illustration are almost invariably the ones who cannot do it themselves: " expressing yourself" with "intellectual art" has often become little more than an excuse for laziness and incompetence.

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« Reply #25 on: June 20, 2012, 11:04:29 AM »

[Spanner-in-the-works time]
One aspect that often features prominently in connection with art is the purported artist’s “suffering,” how s/he has “paid his/her dues,” that they are “sensitive to subtleties,” that they have “unique insight” and that they “need their freedom” to create.  Everyone wants to be an “artist” of some kind and there is a strong propensity for using the epithet “artist” as a badge of honour to signify all the hardships that they face in pursuit of their art.  In contrast, calling yourself a “scientist” or something technical that’s not directly associated with the art world is typically said without much expectation of eliciting expressions of deep reverence and awe from the listener.

Personally, I think “artists” just whinge a whole lot more than other people.

Creativity is a central precept for art.  If it’s not creative, it just ain’t art.  Consider that there are as many ways of, say, painting a given person’s portrait as there are people contemplating that project.  Each rendition is unique to the artist who produced it, and the same artist can also do different versions of the same person’s portrait.  This uniqueness and individuality goes to the heart of art’s alleged strength, and “creative” is the word we use to praise this or that artist.  The more we like an artist, the more “creativity” we ascribe to him or her.  How curious it is, then, that we invariably forget how truly creative scientists and engineers who work at the cutting edges are.  How curious that artists usually decry the type of creativity where there is just one way to arrive at and render a theory or method or procedure, namely the correct way, by combining disparate bits of existing knowledge in novel ways in accordance with certain strict rules.  To my mind, the latter is a much superior kind of creativity that requires significant skill in its execution and which meets all the requirements that entitle it to be called “art.”

On the whole, as a category, I don’t like artists very much.
[/Spanner-in-the-works time]

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brianvds
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« Reply #26 on: June 20, 2012, 11:53:17 AM »

Personally, I think “artists” just whinge a whole lot more than other people.


We have here to distinguish between artists and aaahhhtists. The former are folks who are skilled at drawing and painting. The latter are the type of hip, self-indulgent people you see on artsy TV programs. Have you noticed that? How they pronounce the word as aaahtist? :-)

You are of course right: math, science and engineering require creativity on a scale equal to anything Michelangelo engaged in (and note that Michelangelo was also a skilled architect and anatomist, and let us not even go into the talents of his contemporary Leonardo). One of the many ways in which postmodernist art and philosophy have harmed us is that ultimately, it has harmed the reputation of all artists, including the genuinely skilled and respectable ones.

My late uncle was a commercially very successful impressionist painter. He had no hint of the "artist's personality" and the last forty or so years of his life were mostly uneventful - he was too busy working to engage in scandal and remained happily married to the same woman for forty or so years. He rose at the same time every day, spent six to eight hours painting, attended no wild parties, and pursued little in the way of weird philosophies (although he did have a certain liking for woo-woo theories - ancient astronauts and that sort of thing - but in his case it really showed a general interest in the cosmos and the world around him. He read Sagan with just as much interest.)

He was also an avid amateur glider pilot, and was fascinated with aviation. He even now and then painted aircraft, although it was by no means what he specialized in:



When he was a child he wanted to be a pilot and was sort of diverted into art because at the time there wasn't any opportunity for him to pursue a career in aviation. But he read voraciously on the subject, had a great knowledge of aeronautics, built and flew his own model aircraft etc. He was greatly impressed with the work of some illustrators, notably Hergé (creator of the Tintin comics). He once pointed out to me that in the Tintin book "Flight 714", in a scene showing a passenger jet landing, all the details of both the cockpit and even the position of the flaps and ailerons on the wings are exactly correct for what the craft is doing - this sort of attention to technical detail greatly impressed him (as it impresses me - Hergé is one of my favourite artist, "mere illustrator" or not!)

All this just to demonstrate that being artistically creative need not turn one into an enemy of science or technology. Quite the contrary: it is when an artist or art lover goes on and on about the evils of science, and how math is all just cold logic, and how engineers have no soul, that I know I probably needn't pay any more attention to their art than to their philosophy. Yet how quick they are to run to a scientifically trained doctor at the first hint of sickness!


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Mefiante
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« Reply #27 on: June 20, 2012, 12:40:29 PM »

We have here to distinguish between artists and aaahhhtists. The former are folks who are skilled at drawing and painting. The latter are the type of hip, self-indulgent people you see on artsy TV programs. Have you noticed that? How they pronounce the word as aaahtist? :-)
That’s most certainly possible but I can truly say that I have never encountered a self-professed artist — famous, middling, unknown or infamous — who isn’t at least on some level a shrill petulant egocentric fathead about their work, so my selection/confirmation bias is probably stronger than it should be.  Moreover, by virtue of their nature, this is the type one is most likely to bump into, and yet it’s still astonishing how common they are.  I don’t doubt that there are notable exceptions.  I just haven’t seen any.  That said, I’d’ve loved to have spent some time with a few selected artists whose works have impressed or moved me to see what sort of people they were behind the façade.

Growing up, Asterix, Lucky Luke and Tintin were among the staple reads in our house.  The quirky charm of peripheral details in many Asterix panels is heart-warmingly amusing.

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« Reply #28 on: June 20, 2012, 15:18:30 PM »

The quirky charm of peripheral details in many Asterix panels is heart-warmingly amusing.
Reminds me of the hours spent deciphering a MAD magzine's margins...  (bout as Art as I get, just like no spirituality whatsoever, our creator has endowed me with no art or fashion sense at all)
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« Reply #29 on: June 20, 2012, 16:34:08 PM »

One of the many ways in which postmodernist art and philosophy have harmed us is that ultimately, it has harmed the reputation of all artists, including the genuinely skilled and respectable ones.
Just to qualify this:  If you ask me, that’s among postmodernism’s pettiest offences.

'Luthon64
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