What is Art? What is Not Art?

The nature of creativity

 

Recently I engaged in a conversation with a fellow alumnus of the University of Kansas’ School of Fine Arts, and we spent time comparing what we understood and appreciated about art, both as creators and followers.  We asked the question “what is art” and “what is not art” and debated the answers.  I enjoyed this chat a great deal, but realized we were diametrically opposed in what we accepted art to be and tried to accomplish as creators.  I recognized some opinions and philosophies as a product of his education as a KU art student, but shook my head in disbelief at the artistic psychobabble he embraced with such passion.  The conversation provided the impetus to question the nature of creativity and reexamine what I believe about art.  This article is meant only to pose questions and offer opinions—not supply answers.

 

The splendor and magnificence of art

The magnificence of the universe--aesthetic qualities independent of human experience
The magnificence of the universe--aesthetic qualities independent of human experience
Flowers in a field.  An example of Realist art?
Flowers in a field. An example of Realist art?
Michelangelo's David; Realist or Objectivist art?
Michelangelo's David; Realist or Objectivist art?
Van Gogh's "Crows over the Wheat Field" certainly evokes a human response
Van Gogh's "Crows over the Wheat Field" certainly evokes a human response
This ornate chair incorporates its function into the human experience
This ornate chair incorporates its function into the human experience
I have been known to draw upon negative emotions for inspiration
I have been known to draw upon negative emotions for inspiration

Standards for the classification of art

 

What is art?    Defining art and judging the quality of art have been the preoccupations of human beings for millennia.  The New Webster’s Dictionary defines art as “the use of the imagination to make things of aesthetic significance.”  Wikipedia probes further and tells us art is the “process or product of deliberately arranging elements in a way to affect the senses or emotions.”  This leads to the question of establishing objective criteria for defining art.  Is art a process or a result?  Does an inherent connection exist between art and beauty?  Is art anything we say it is?  Is it intended to be appreciated or enjoyed?  Should it have a function beyond its appreciation?

 

Richard Wollheim, a British philosopher known for his work on mind and emotion relating to visual arts, defined art relative to three approaches:  the Realist approach, establishing aesthetic qualities as absolute while independent of human view; the Objectivist approach, which defines aesthetic qualities as absolute but dependent upon human view; and, a Relativist position which asserts that art is not absolute but incorporates the human experience.

 

Applying this information to my personal beliefs, I can accept aspects of Wollheim’s three classifications of art.  I struggle most with the Realist perspective.  I can accept the aesthetic beauty of the universe and nature as absolute while remaining independent of human view, but I struggle to accept anything man-made as intentionally Realist.  Michelangelo’s “David” meets the strict criteria of a Realist approach—its aesthetic qualities are absolute and timeless.  However, this magnificent statue was certainly created to evoke a human experience. Vincent Van Gogh’s melancholy “Crows over the Wheat Field,” for example, swallows the viewers in its intensity, intentionally or not.   The idea of art independent of human view puzzles me on some levels and leads to the question of what is achieved through the act of creating a drawing or painting?  I have been baffled by artists who claim they create only to satisfy a physical need.  Physical experience as the only goal excuses the creator from meeting any type of artistic standard.  I was scolded at a lecture I attended as an art student when I suggested to the visiting artist that if his only purpose in painting was for a physical experience, he should try push-ups instead.  His lengthy lecture and slide show revealed that his art existed for other reasons; he desired it be seen, or he wanted admiration or notoriety.  Perhaps he wished to be paid for his work.  If his sole purpose was to work up a sweat, there was never a need for his paintings to see the light of day.

 

I remain convinced that art serves a higher purpose than physical gratification, and that purpose is connected with the viewer and subsequently embraces an Objectivist perspective.  The purpose seemingly involves a form of language—a means to create shared meaning.  A second goal might be to create beauty; a third would involve earning money.  These reasons and many others are all valid and dependent on the viewer’s experience.  The utilitarian design of objects for use or consumption, such as a chair or article of clothing, would seem to reflect a Relativist approach—its creative success is inexorably connected with the human experience. 

 

Are these purposes valid?  While I scoff at many of the justifications painters use for their art to be as it is, there are certainly reasons I accept.  Art as a product created without pretentiousness or cosmic rationales in exchange for money makes perfect sense to me.  Artists might not create to make money, but being paid for their efforts becomes a valid reason to create.  Why put a price tag on a piece hanging from a gallery wall or offer students a scholarship to encourage continuation of their work?  It is an incentive to create.

 

 Creating beauty is another acceptable rationale if the beauty is genuine.  My appreciation for so-called “calendar art” is based on the realization that it is nice to look at and is often quite beautiful.  Being pleasing to the eye is its reason to exist, and the labor of painting serves the end result, not the other way around.  This rationale can be obscured by subjective definitions of beauty, but hearing “I know what I like when I see it” from patrons typically encompasses an appreciation of beauty that stems from shared meaning. 

 

It is what it is

 

What is NOT art?  It is more difficult to apply an objective standard for defining art by identifying what is not art.  For example, I strenuously object to the concept that art is anything its creator wants it to be, but many hold fast to this belief.  It is my opinion that a framed sheet of notebook paper is not art just because a “creator” states that it is—how we view the sheet of notebook paper is also a consideration.  In a critique as a college student, a classmate generated fifteen minutes of conversation concerning the nature of art by hanging a calendar upside down.  The artist knew he could capture the imagination of the class with his pseudo-intellectual ramblings.  The same rules didn’t apply a week later when I proudly presented a Woolworth’s “spring clearance” window sign with car wax applied to it.  My creation was repulsive and my declaration that it was as much art as the calendar hung upside down was rejected.  I was ridiculed by my peers as I defiantly contended they proved my point for me:  my assertion as its creator that my car-waxed sign was art was insufficient because no one else accepted it as art.

 

What are NOT valid reasons to create?  Artists sometimes claim they don’t need a reason to produce art, but I am uncertain how the creative process sustains itself without a motivating force.  Some seem convinced they are an elemental force, painting because nature abhors a vacuum.  I laugh at such chatter, recognizing that our planet is full and rich with natural beauty which ceaselessly captivates our mind and senses if we are attuned to it.  In a world of magnificent perfection, I never observe or sense the vacuum they speak of and consider it delusional for artists to believe they are creating beauty because it is lacking.

 

I consider repetition a poor reason to paint.  As artists build a series of works along the same theme, I question the need for multiple paintings that look essentially the same.  Why have six paintings instead of only one?  I understand that it sometimes takes more than one try to reach a particular combination of skill and expertise culminating in the solution to an artistic problem.  My question is why the earlier paintings are kept.  If their final painting solved their artistic quandary, what purpose do their earlier efforts still serve?  As a collection or series, they lack creativity and simply restate what has already been stated with varying levels of success.  One is enough.

 

Negativity is a poor reason to create.  I have personally used negative feelings and emotions to create, but negativity is not the point.  If my purpose is to work through negative experiences or emotions, I feel obliged to communicate something positive in the end—to make experiencing my work part of an upward trend.  If I project negativity and inflict it on others it might be creative, but is it art?

 

 

What do you believe?

 

As promised, I have asked questions and offered opinions only.  No answers to the questions of what is and is not art have been forthcoming.  I pose this question to you:  have you ever seen a painting or sculpture and exclaimed, “THAT’S NOT ART!”  If so, why did you feel this way?  Was it ugly?  Did it evoke negative feelings from you?  Did it seem amateurish?  What made you decide that what someone considered art wasn’t?

 

 

Comments 115 comments

msorensson profile image

msorensson 6 years ago

The title of my new book is "Mind of a Scientist, Soul of an Artist, Heart of a Sage"

Of these the hardest part so far is capturing the soul of an artist.

I agree with you. What is not art?

I think that an artist is trying to express his or her soul when he or she creates something.


Ghost Whisper 77 profile image

Ghost Whisper 77 6 years ago from The U.S. Government protects Nazi War Criminals

I can only recall one thing in my entire life that I clearly screamed out in anger "THAT IS NOT ART!" and it was something that hurt me in many ways...so deeply. Other than that--I enjoy looking at people's creations of 'art' and the way they view the world.


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia

Wonderful hub, Mike, and congrats on the 100!


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

Great hub! Well thought out! I see pipes welded together and I see a maintenance problem with cleaning the dust, etc.So I can't appreciate all art - as the artist may have intended. I love art but I think the Mona Lisa would have been a better painting had she been riding a bicycle! Thank you Sir!


Teddletonmr profile image

Teddletonmr 6 years ago from Midwest USA

Me simple, Art make me feel...


Ben Zoltak profile image

Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

I once did a presentation/lecture in front of Philosophy club, the largest group I've ever spoke infront of, about this very subject. I nailed a pigs foot to a board and used that as a focal point. It was lively, lots of discourse. I also once saw "Crows over a field" in person in Amsterdam, it made me cry! I was really surprised, although I am a sentimental dude so looking back maybe it's not so surprising after all. Great article Mike, sorry I've been slow to respond,working two nonart jobs now and my creative hours are shortened. Time to go on my way, "deliberately arranging elements in a way to affect the senses" LOL


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida

A superior thought-proving hub, Mike.

To me, art is something you enjoy viewing that provokes some sort of reactive feeling - whether a canvas, a statue, a sunset, a sky crowded with birds, a field of waving corn, unusual architecture. Whatever turns you on. Either positively or negatively.


JannyC profile image

JannyC 6 years ago

Very Deep Mike. This does really make you think. Thing is the answer is usually not that complex. My son's scribbles drawing is art to me for art is making something from what is inside you.


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

I like something about art and I found great art in this hub. you peel about art very well. I really enjoy all information inside this hub. To appreciate your dedication in art, I rate this hub. Good work!


jayjay40 profile image

jayjay40 6 years ago from Bristol England

To me if it produces a reaction then it is art, Graffiti art is a case in point. Is it art or vandalism? Great hub lots to think about


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

msorrenson, thanks for your comments. I do think an artist is expressing something from deep within while creating--at least the good ones do. Everyone trying to communicate something usually will manage to be understood by someone. My contention that some work is not art stems from a personal belief that some are attempting to fool or con us rather than communicate with us. (The upside-down calendar, for example.)

Your book has an intriguing title and I will admit that defining or representing the soul of an artist would be a difficult task.

Thanks again for reading.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Ghosty! Thanks for stopping by, I've missed you! I hope you're doing well these days. Reflecting on your comments, I would be willing to say that art that hurts or injures us is not art. It might be creative, but it is not art. I would also say that if something was meant to be hurtful, I would categorically denounce it. That is my personal opinion, of course, but I believe art should serve a positive purpose, not a negative one. Anything that would be hurtful to you would not be considered art--at least in my opinion.

I'm glad to see you here again, it is a joy to find your comments. Missed ya!

Mike


Ben Zoltak profile image

Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

Haha, glad to see I'm not the only one falling behind with replies Mike, hey we're "comment-rich"!!! LOL


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Habee, thanks for stopping by, I'm always happy to find that you've read some of my work. Thanks for noticing the 100, as well. I would be lying if I said it didn't please me, at least on some level.

Thanks again for reading.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Micky Dee, thanks for stopping by. I don't think any of us can appreciate all art. It took me years to develop enough of an understanding of abstract art to realize its beauty and elegance. Maybe someday I will appreciate that calendar hung upside-down (but on that one I doubt it). And, y'know, maybe it's not too late to get Mona Lisa on that bike!

Thanks for stopping by, I am appreciative.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Teddletonmr, thanks for reading. When art makes me feel something, I think it served its purpose. Thanks again.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Ben, thanks for stopping by, my friend! I'm sure a pigs foot as a focal point for a lecture to a philosophy group drew more than its fair share of comments. That must have been a pretty interesting lecture and probably had a good bit of controversy.

I saw "Crows Over the Wheat Field" a very long time ago as part of an Impressionist Exhibition. I can't remember if it was in Kansas City or Denver or Las Vegas, but Las Vegas sounds right. It had a similar impact on me, and I was hard pressed just to walk away from it. When you are standing in front of something so magnificent, it is hard to say, "Well, is everyone ready to head down to Applebee's for lunch?" You just don't want to move. And that actually represents an interesting aspect of the creative process. As one of the last paintings Van Gogh ever did, we know it was all about personal expression and he never once thought about connecting with an audience of viewers. However, he connected in a completely profound manner. He conveyed a shared meaning just by creating straight from the heart and soul. When you're not trying to accomplish something, you nail it....

Well, thanks for stopping by and I hope your efforts to deliberately arrange elements in a way to affect the senses is going well these days.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

drbj, thanks for reading. I agree that a primary function and purpose of art is to evoke feelings. I struggle with the idea of an artist intentionally attempting to evoke negative feelings, but I haven't completely how I feel about that. It could indeed be considered art. There are many questions but no clear-cut answers. I greatly appreciate your comments.

Mike


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

This is a great hub. It does pose the question. I have to say, I think art, like beauty, is in the mind of the beholder. Me, I LOVE Van Gogh. I HATE Dali. I can't see the art in much rap music, either, except for maybe Einman. I LOVE Mozart. I LOVE the Beatles. When I respond, I respond numinously. I'm glad I have no PhD in art, it would RUIN it for me!


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Janny! Thanks for stopping by. I agree completely that children's creations are very much art. They are direct and heartfelt expressions from their heart and soul, and the appeal of children's art is widespread. The beauty of children's drawings are in their honesty--and they are indeed art.

Thanks for reading, Janny!

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

prasetio, thanks so much for reading. I appreciate your comments about my hub very much, they are most gracious. Thank you for sharing with us.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

jayjay, thanks for reading. I tend to enjoy graffiti and street art very much, and I have no problem accepting it as art--even if the local authorities see it as vandalism. I find graffiti to be very honest expressions of feelings and, frankly, far more beautiful than it is usually given credit for. Therein lies the problem of trying to hold subjective work to objective standards...... We might see graffiti as art, and many others will not. Who is right???

Thanks for your insight, you have offered an interesting slant on this issue.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Ben, you slipped a few words in on me while I was answering other comments. I gotta admit I'm overjoyed to see so many comments come in so quickly--perhaps it means I've written something thought provoking for once lol!!! I will certainly never complain!

Thanks for stopping back by.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

paradise, thanks for reading. You raise a most interesting point that must be addressed in any discussion of artistic standards--differences in taste as an objective criteria. Some people will like the very things you detest, which makes any efforts to categorize creativity all the more difficult. I have more questions than answers, as this hub certainly must demonstrate. I am a fan of many artists and styles of art, but there are certainly things I dislike. I categorically object to the idea that anything a creator says is art automatically becomes art, but I am able to embrace myriad styles and forms as art.

I'm not even sure where that leaves me--I guess it means there are no definite answers (as would be expected).

Thanks so much for your comments, I appreciate them very much--as always.

Mike


sunforged profile image

sunforged 6 years ago from Sunforged.com

I would disagree with your declaration that a framed piece of notebook paper is not art.

In my mind, any intentional expression by an individual in any media including conversation that is in some way a tangible change or effects an emotional reaction (as basic as favorable/disfavorable) qualifies as art.


sunforged profile image

sunforged 6 years ago from Sunforged.com

You would probably get a very lively discussion from those who haven't had any formal art education if you threw in some of Duchamps readymades in your selection of photos above

People get downright angry if you tell them "Fountain" is art


Ben Zoltak profile image

Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

I like your take on Van Gogh's final paintings and his inwardness. I hope to read his letters to Theo one day for more insight. I like that you gather that Van Gogh wasn't concerned about an audience I guess since his work speaks to me so personally I gloss over that fact, but in light of the context of his life(and lack of audience) what you say makes sense and is thought provoking.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Sunforged! I am honored to find you here and greatly appreciate your input! I find your definition of art to be more broad than my own as it could technically include actions such as a punch in the face, but I would not fundamentally disagree with it. I would still contend that a framed piece of white paper is not art only because its creator says it is. I remain convinced there should be more to it than that, because then anything and everything can be/is art. This would suggest there must be some form of shared definition of art, even if that definition is shared by as few as two people. My car-waxed signs weren't seen as art, even though I said they were. They evoked a reaction from the group when I claimed they were as much art as the calendar turned upside-down, but the group disagreed. In that venue, shared meaning (or opinions, at least) decided the issue against me.

When I wrote this article I hadn't considered Duchamp's Fountain, but it would have been an interesting inclusion...

Well, thanks so much for stopping by--I greatly appreciate it.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Hey, Ben, thanks for coming back. I read some of the letters to Theo a long time ago, and they are very powerful. I think you would really find them moving and inspirational. Van Gogh's work toward the end of his life was amazing, and I think by then he was totally unaffected by any viewer's perceptions. His vision was so singular nothing was apt to alter or affect it by the end. In finding his artistic voice in such an absolute sense, I truly believe he became linked to his audience, throughout the decades. Not seeking a link with any viewer allowed him to connect with viewers across the decades, in a very singular way.

You may have guessed that I am also a huge fan of Van Gogh and his work. I am always thrilled at the opportunity to see anything he painted in a museum.

Thanks for coming back by--feel free any time.

Mike


pmccray profile image

pmccray 6 years ago from Utah

I totally agree that the artists creation reflects his or her minds eye at the time. But what of the beholder? I can look at The Mona Lisa or Van Gogh all day long and never experience any passion, like or dislike. I see a lady with a hint of a smile and a bunch of flowers . . now what?

But as you said it's a matter of taste. I've yet to come across any painting or sculpture that stop me in my tracks or makes me stop and pause.

Now photographs, especially those from the past, have a different affect on me. Art in the form of the written word has a tremendous affect on me as does music (there again the written word?).

I'm really glad you wrote this hub I have often felt, in my younger days, that I was not cultured or lacked taste, ergo my lack of passion for a particular art form.

Hence "beauty is in the eye of the beholder", I think I now understand!!!


kimberlyslyrics 6 years ago

Hi Mike, great hub for sure. I think you have very valid opinions and points throughout such a great content.

To answer your question was best described for me by your words;

If my purpose is to work through negative experiences or emotions, I feel obliged to communicate something positive in the end—to make experiencing my work part of an upward trend. If I project negativity and inflict it on others it might be creative, but is it art?

Thank you

I never know for sure what I think is art but am positively always sure what I don't think is

Kimberly


Zac828 profile image

Zac828 6 years ago from England

A richly rewarding hub and open to many things. I agree with your thought process and it has given me the chance to see that each time we see something, art or sculpture or words, we are judging its worth to us. But I'm not sure if that means we are recognising it as art or if we are taking it for what it is. Art is, in some sense, a bracket to fit creative outputs into, maybe to some everything is a work of art. The world is a work of art, the streets, the ordinary life...look at Lowry. I could go on, I won't, but very interesting hub, glad I found it, thanks for sharing.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

pmccray, thanks for stopping by. I agree with you, the beholder should factor into an ultimate determination of what is art. My class at KU didn't think my Woolworth's signs were art, and I didn't think another fellow's calendar hung upside-down was. Obviously, an appreciation of art will play a role--as you suggest, we won't all like everything that is accepted as art. Beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder, and (in my opinion) the viewer must be part of the equation of determining what is art. You didn't lack culture or taste in not appreciating certain works of art or art forms--the works you didn't like didn't move you, that's all. Your appreciation of art is as valid as anyone else's.

Thanks so much for your comments, they are greatly appreciated.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Kim, thanks for reading and leaving your comments. I will make a confession here--when I wrote my comment about an upward trend, I had your own writing in mind to some extent. You have written about personal hardships at times, and it was clear how much your work drew from your pain on the occasions that affected you negatively. However, you always lifted us up at the end of the hub--you always demonstrated the hope you have for the future, and you always made us feel a little stronger in the end. We felt better when we were done reading, and that is what I believe a major function of art should be.

Thank you so much for reading, Kim--you are a true artist.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Zac828, thanks for your comments. You are correct, each time we see something, we are evaluating its worth to us. We may not consciously be deciding whether something is art, but we are still defining art, even on a subconscious level. As I have stated, I don't believe anything becomes art simply because an artist says it is--I think some type of standard or criteria must come into play--I do believe much in nature is art, and the universe itself can be considered art, as well. The way some live their everyday lives could be considered a form of art. There is much to find beauty in, and we all help to decide what that beauty means.

Thanks for your most gracios comments, they are much appreciated.

Mike


coffeesnob 6 years ago

I think art is certainly an extension of the artist, but agree that just because they say it is art does not make it art. When I write - I try to express sentiments that are not only an expression of me, but those which I feel may touch a nerve of others. If I create a piece that doesn't begin first in me (heart and soul) then it lacks depth, if I create a piece that starts within my heart and soul, but it has no reason for its creation or no purpose then it lacks substance. But when the two work together I believe art comes forth. I think the artist must be able to see how their art will serve others. Also I look to my Creator. He created me for a purpose - and the work of art that I am began from the heart of God and came about because he meant for me to be able to touch others and make a difference in their lives..hope you understood all this

Great hub, Mike and congrats on the 100 score!


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

coffesnob, thanks for reading. You touch on a valid point that is difficult to articulate--the concept of art having a purpose and a reason for its creation. Without that purpose, art suffers. Often when I view art in galleries and museums, I ask myself if a piece needed to be created. If I struggle to find a reason for it to exist, it likely (as you say) lacks substance.

I also believe that we draw inspiration from God and that art serves a higher purpose. When we are able to communicate with our work and find shared meaning--we have succeeded.

Thanks so much for your insights, and the congrats are appreciated, as well.

Mike


valeriebelew profile image

valeriebelew 6 years ago from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA

To each his own, but for me, the experience of art is emotional, not physical. I do a workout for physical reasons, jog, or stretch. Art touches the psyc, or at least it does for me. I write, and have pointed for self expression, but also to make some point to others.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Valeriebelew, thanks for reading. Personally, I'm inclined to agree with you 100%--a physical experience seems no reason to create artwork. When the artwork is displayed in galleries around the country while the artist persists in stating the only reason he painted was for a physical experience, I have to believe I'm being conned. If a physical experience is truly the ONLY reason someone creates, why keep the work?

Art is something from the psyche, heart, soul--whatever we want to call it, but it is not a substitute for push-ups! It is shared meaning or beauty or self-expression, but not a way to tone the abs for summer.

Thanks again for your comments, and I totally agree.

Mike


Gemineye profile image

Gemineye 6 years ago

I feel art is something that is built from creativity. Something that arouses "something"..anything from an individual. Whatever one puts into it, it is a belief, it is heartfelt, it's expression. It comes down to each and every individual's perception in the long run.

A stack of coffee cans tied together with yellow string can be art, as much as an amazing oil painting to those who look at it.

Great article, as always!


stephane86 6 years ago

I have to say, I am amazed at your genius and impressed by your intelligence. Your writing ability is very crisp and to the point, while your vocabulary is refined and yet, still accessible. I enjoyed greatly your professorial handling of the subject and would say that like you, I have no formal answers, being myself very far from a connaisseur or expert on the matter. I only attempt to delve into subjects philosophical in nature, although with relative success. I look forward to more philosophical work from you. Great article! It's a 100 and a thumbs up for me.


RosWebbART profile image

RosWebbART 6 years ago from Ireland

I think in the western world we are snobbish about what art is? and I think every culture has it's own perceptions on what is art. But in every sense anything anyone creates and puts something of themselves into the work ; is art. I accept all art in all forms because it is subjective and personal and everyone has the right to create and call it art.Great hub very thought provoking.


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

Great Mike, I agree more with the Relativist explanation. I respect peoples culture and how they do things -- and respect for human behavior at different cultural levels -- interpretation included. I cant see a painting without an emotion, the power or emotions of a person doing the art is involved, how he see the elements, colors interpretation etc. realism is just a picture which was taken at one side, how about the one who is taking the picture, doesn't he thinks of the angle of the picture, same with paintings.

The purpose of the creator of art is to influence the one who is looking at the art --

Excellent hub, thanks and take care, Maita


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Gemineye, thanks for reading. I am in agreement that art encompasses heartfelt belief and expression. When that is in evidence, even the stack of coffee cans becomes art and can be beautiful. Individual perception does play a factor, however, and that is what makes the issue a confusing one.

I have offered questions here but no answers. The beauty of art as a process is that it includes and welcomes this type of critical thinking. I thank you for contributing to the discussion.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Stephane, thanks for reading. I am appreciative of your kind words about my thoughts about art and my writing style. You are very gracious and I thank you. I have no answers either, but asking the questions can be enjoyable in and of itself.

Thanks again.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

RosWebbART, thanks for your comments. I agree that we are entitled, both as individuals and as a culture, to our own definition of art. I guess I wonder how little we are expected to give of ourselves as creators and am leery of a put-on. For example, I still am unconvinced that the fellow hanging a calendar upside-down created art or believed he created art. He might have been artistic in his attempts to convince us it was art, but was it really art, either by virtue of being upside-down and/or because he said it was? I wasn't convinced it was.

I embrace a broad definition of what constitutes art and believe that literally anything can be art. I am still unsure that anything (or everything) is art, however. I enjoy asking the questions about art, however, and searching for the answers.

Thanks again, I greatly appreciate your comments.

Mike


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Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Maita, thanks so much for reading. I agree completely that art involves the creator and the viewer, and that something is shared from the experience of creating and viewing art. I believe the artist is seeking to evoke a reaction, a response, an emotion--and I believe the viewer is wanting to offer one. I think that if we view a piece of artwork that does absolutely nothing for us, on some level we are disappointed. We want to be moved and touched in some way and we hope artists will offer that in their work.

I also agree that cultural differences must be noted and respected. RosWebbART commented that the Western world might be snobbish about how art is defined and viewed, and she might be correct. Where can we find respect for diversity if not in art? It must be there, as you point out so well.

Thanks again for stopping by, Maita. Hope you had a good weekend.

Mike


kimberlyslyrics 6 years ago

Mike I just had to come and say thank you for your response, I don't normally refer back to responses, but I'm glad someone pretty terrific told me to do so here.

That comment is true art,

xo thank you tons

Kimberly


WE5 profile image

WE5 6 years ago

Great Hub. T've had this discussion on many occasions over the years and sadly, there's no resolution in my books. I suppose I would have to fall in the 'I know what I like, and I like this...' camp although some things I don't like could clearly be considered art, just not to my tastes. Sorry I'm no clearer but hey, that's Art.


Lady_E profile image

Lady_E 6 years ago from London, UK

Very interesting Hub - I think people see Art in different ways. In response to the last paragraph - The Millenium dome in London (O2) has an "Art" feature. Well, before you enter the dome, it's on the wall.

They are wrappers of chocolate bars glued to a paper (separately) and then covered in glass. So, it's like people finished their bars of chocs and placed it on paper. There must have been about 50 wrappers displayed as Art. I wasn't impressed at all.

I like the photo's in your Hub.

Best Wishes.


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

What is art to me is quite clear to me...it is a work that engages me in an experience that is emotional, maybe intellectual, eye-opening (even if shocking), and maybe aesthetic, maybe not. It tells me something I would learn in no other way. It lets me see outside the box I live in and makes we want to engage with the mind of the artist.

But what the "world" accepts as art is another thing. Assign dollar signs to art history and contemporary art. The great Paris expositions of the 19th century were realities because of wealthy patrons. The patrons were swayed from funding realism to funding impressionism (and beyond) because they saw a market in the changing times with the help of dealers, promoters, and eventually the media...hawkers all.

That's a sardonic view, but things are no different today, except that there are ever more gifted minds, gifted talents, and the competition is huge while the patron pool is diminishing. Those who would, in the past, enter into that role with an aspiring artist would rather hedge their bets in the market by acquiring Monets and Rembrandts.

Brilliant Hub, full of great questions that individuals can answer for themselves, or leave the answers up to the traders in art commodities.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Kim, thanks for returning. The words are heartfelt, and I admire you and your work very, very much. Thanks again.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

WE5, thanks for reading. Knowing what you like and leaving it at that is as valid as any other answer--as you can see, there are many viewpoints and not many answers. I have found asking the questions beneficial, and at the end of the perhaps that is enough.

Thanks again.

Mike


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Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Elena, thanks for reading. The chocolate wrapper "art" would probably strain its credibility with me, as well. Perhaps there might be something of value in its spontaneity, but I think I would struggle with that one, just as you did.

I will offer a similar story. I was watching a film about Jim Dine, a sometimes nice/sometimes eccentric artist. He was painting a huge canvas. He stopped, took out a handkerchief, and wiped his nose. (Guess where this is going....) He looked at his handkerchief, looked at his canvas, looked at his handkerchief again.... and then reached for a bottle of glue and glued his handkerchief to the canvas.

Spontaneous, sure--even creative in a mad sort of way--but I'm not convinced his used handkerchief contributed to any artistic process or solution.

Well, anyway, thanks for reading.

Mike


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Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Sally, thanks for reading. Your definition of art is as valid as any, and I would accept your view as practical. I also share on many levels your view of the art world in its present state. There are ever fewer true patrons of the arts, and you are absolutely correct--brilliant artists are unable to create because patrons would rather spend money on a "sure thing" and reach back into the past. It is a sad and regrettable state, and in this regard I am not sure where to look for answers. I do believe technology offers an answer, but I'm uncertain what role it will play.

At any rate, thanks for your opinions and insights. They are well-considered and greatly appreciated. Take care.

Mike


poetlorraine 6 years ago

I just came by to read this hub. Hooray you have scored a 100 very well deserved, whilst in Tamper Bay i visited Dali's art work. I have never taken a deep interest in art, but we had a guide and his work was so brilliant, i would like to understand art more. What a huge subject though........ i enjoyed reading the different definitions of the word... thanks for a wonderful journey through the art world


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Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

poetlorraine, thanks for reading. I love Dali's work; dream-like images always fascinate me. The meanings and functions of art are so varied, I wonder sometimes if anyone (including me) understands it. Thinking about and is part of the joy of appreciating art, however.

Thanks again, and I appreciate the kudos you've offered for the 100 score.

Mike


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

There have been exhibits in our Contempory Art Museum in Houston that have made me (and guests with me) laugh. Perhaps that was the artist's intent? At least it elucidated a feeling!

What do I not like? Example.....a huge canvas painted entirely black with one red squiggle line in it or a white dot. Maybe someday I will learn to appreciate it...or maybe not.

One thing is certain...as time passes and one is exposed to different types of art...one's appreciation tends to grow. That is expecially true if one also creates art.

Good hub!


catherine74 profile image

catherine74 6 years ago from London

Love your posts. Well articulated perspective on what some would consider art.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Peggy, thanks for reading. I read your hub about the Houston Museum of Fine Art, and there is plenty of beautiful work there to admire--I wouldn't worry too much about not getting a lot out of a black painting with a red line or white dot. I do believe there are occasions when making you laugh might be the point, but I am also wary of so-called artists without discernable talent hoping to make a dollar convincing us that something which lacks creativity is art. I am not speaking of the art you mention or any work specifically, but I do believe that scammers exist in the art world.

You touched upon the other side of the coin, as well. As we are exposed to different styles of art, we become more able to appreciate them with time. We learn to see the beauty in things we did not care for before. Do the scammers still exist? Yes. Is everything we don't like a scam? No.

I have become a fan of so many styles of art, it is difficult for me to categorically say something is bad or not art, but many styles of art have been acquired tastes. You are correct in that we do tend to grow more appreciative as we mature.

Thanks for reading and leaving your comments, I appreciate it greatly.

Mike


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Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Catherine, thanks for reading. Your kind comments are greatly appreciated.

Mike


susanlang profile image

susanlang 6 years ago

Mike..funny that I just came across this hub after reading and responding to some forum posts on this subject. Go figure..ha.. I love it. I could have used your smart insight on art yesterday and today. But, its all good. Mike you left nothing to chance in this hub and I believe your details are impeccable! Surperb job..I loved it!


Susan Carter profile image

Susan Carter 6 years ago

I enjoyed your Hub, Mike. Although I am not a connoisseur in any way, for me the definition of art is up to the individual enjoying it. It may be classified as a "work of art" by a master painter, but if the person viewing it doesn't get any enjoyment from it, then is it still "art" or just a picture, or sculpture? "Eye of the beholder" comes to mind. For me, art is personal and if I don't enjoy it, then I cannot call it art. Thanks for the providing your point of view. I enjoyed it.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Susan (Lang), thanks for stopping by. I noticed the forum posts as well, but resisted the urge to participate in their discussion. I support my views concerning the nature of art, but was reluctant to battle for them in that particular venue. I'm glad you enjoyed my hub, and I will look for the forum thread and see what they had to say.

Thanks again, I'm glad you enjoyed my work.

Mike


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Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Susan (Carter), thanks for reading. In many ways I like your idea that art is entirely defined by the viewer. Combatting the "this is art because I say it is" syndrome has much merit in my eyes. In a most minimal sense, even if an individual cannot entirely define art, I still believe viewer participation is important in shaping the definition of what art includes.

Thanks very much for your comments, they are (as always) greatly appreciated.

Mike


susanlang profile image

susanlang 6 years ago

Mike, don't bother looking for the (What Is Art) thread. I did say in that thread, "art is personal and in the eye of the beholder." So, if you resisted commenting on that thread, as you say here, please don't bother yourself now. As always, great hubs Mike.


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Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Susan, I have been busy with stuff today, and probably won't bother with the thread anyway. Hopefully anything I've said here is as worthy as opinions found there.

Have a good day, Susan.

Mike


Arthur Windermere profile image

Arthur Windermere 6 years ago

Interesting article, Mike. I like your writing. I'm pretty much on the same page as you regarding art. I don't think just anyone gets to decide and I don't think it can be entirely objective either. You know who always makes me think, "That's not art!"? Damien Hirst. That guy is just one gimmick after another. Sharks suspended in formaldehyde gel, diamond-encrusted skulls--nuh-uh, not art, but good at getting attention. I don't think he's putting any of himself, of his deepest sentiments in that work. It's inauthentic. Consequently, I don't think anyone's getting any deep sentiments out of that work. Just pseudo-intellectual discourse. It's not that it's ugly--I'm not sure that matters--it's just that it's cynical and without any sublime meaning.

I'm sure you've heard of the Duchamp's 'sculpture' Fountain? It's just a urinal he found and put it an art gallery. He was actually really annoyed that the Paris art-snobs started calling it beautiful. They totally missed his point.

Cheers!


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Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Arthur, thanks for commenting. I agree completely that gimmicks--however creative--doesn't automatically qualify as art. You put it very well by saying he's not putting any of himself into his work. It might attract attention and evoke a response, but is that enough to qualify as art? The attack on the World Trade Center on 9-11 accomplished that. Duchamp's Fountain certainly summarizes the essence of the "what is art" debate. It was clever in its own way, but should it ever have been considered art???

While an objective standard is virtually impossible, I hold onto the idea that art must be more than just the artist caling something art. In Duchamp's case, his viewers agreed that the toilet bowl was art--and on some level, with that agreement, it apparently became art. But is it?

Well, thanks for reading, I appreciate your insights.

Mike


Awful Poet profile image

Awful Poet 6 years ago from The Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) (m-M)_0 = 18.41, or 48 kpc (~157,000

Fine Hub


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Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Thank you, Awful Poet. I appreciate the kind words.

Mike


Manna in the wild profile image

Manna in the wild 6 years ago from Australia

Good work Mike. I can see this took a lot of thought to put together. It addresses one of those totally unanswerable questions of course, but you did well. I decided it's worth a tweet to my art followers. Thank you.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Manna, thanks for reading. You are correct, of course--the question is unanswerable, but I think it is important for artists to consider such things and be capable of articulating what they are doing and why. This is, basically what I am attempting to do here. Thanks so much for the tweet consideration, it is greatly appreciated.

Mike


Garlic Angel profile image

Garlic Angel 6 years ago from Dublin

Oh what a great article on Art you have there Mike. Such a way with words you have. I wish I was able to express my thoughts on Art as you have here. I have bookmarked this Article as I will be reading it over again in order to take in all your information. I hope you do not mind if I follow you also as I am looking forward to reading your other articles. Thank you for sharing all of this with me and I look forward to reading more... Garlic Angel :-)


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Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Garlic Angel, thanks for the kind words, both about my article and my writing abilities. I am happy to have you follow my work, and I hope you will be reading many more articles of mine in the future. Thanks again.

Mike


RChambers 6 years ago

Art is the creation of appreciation. Appreciation of our commonality. Appreciation of various aspects of our human condition. Appreciation of our dilemma. Appreciation of craft. Appreciation of effort.

Good article. Thoughtfully written.


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Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

RChambers, thanks for reading. Your definition of art as the creation of appreciation is a good one and I like it very much. Thanks for your insights.

Mike


Life Unplugged 6 years ago

Amazingly written article ,I too at times feel that artist's get fixed with particular genre or type of painting ,don't they get suffocated and stagnated by producing art on similar lines again n again. Is it really creativity ? Thanks a ton for sharing for such progressive thought on Art !


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Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Life Unplugged, thanks for reading. It seems very much as if some artists become so stuck in a particular style they actually are imitating themselves. Their paintings are so alike, one has to wonder what was accomplished. Like you, I question whether it is really creativity.

Thanks again for reading, I am appreciative.

Mike


Momma Mia profile image

Momma Mia 6 years ago from North Carolina

Wow..great subject matter!! I am way late here on my comment..but here goes anyway.....

Art is a gift of giving!! From ones self....to someone that may feel or work forward to feel Good...you are so correct about that Mike. Sometimes it takes a tear or some anger (not Rage) to conjour up some answers to issues ..that otherwise may have gone untouched!

There has been the day that I announced "that is not art"! It came from the fact it was not understanable to me..in looks or in message. However if anyone else had seen beauty....I still would have said where?? LOL

Great enriching hub.....I will not be so quick to say that again.

Thanks for your views and great writing!

Mia


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Mia, you're not late here--I'm happy to have some comments on hubs that have been around for a little while.

Art is indeed a gift of giving, as you say. It has no reason to exist if it is all just about the artist, and it also has no purpose if it is just a mental exercise, like the upside-down calendar that offered nothing.

Art can be found everywhere, even though some things just aren't deserving of the word art. The merits of art are always worth considering, however, and that is one of its joys.

Thanks for stopping by, I greatly appreciate your comments.

Mike


epigramman profile image

epigramman 6 years ago

..it took me so long to scroll down to the bottom of this screen that art has reached a new vanguard - lol lol -

and that is the question of all questions - what is art - what is not art? Only religion and politics would receive such polar reactions of opposition .. and then there is art - well like LOU REED once sang - "I don't know much about art but I know what I like" - and Mike I don't like this hub - I love it!!!!!!!!!!!


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Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Epigramman, thanks for your kind words. You are absolutely correct, discussing what is and is not art is comparable to religion and politics in its diversity of reactions, but fortunately the opinions are stated a bit more gently here. Thanks again for stopping by, I am grateful.

Mike


pounder008 6 years ago

I think that art is everything, for all is a creation and creation is designed.


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Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Pounder, thanks for stopping by. I'm not certain I agree that everything that is designed is art, but I understand what you are saying. Thanks again for reading, I appreciate it very much.


Jalus 5 years ago

Wow such a thought provoking topic. It always evokes such a powerful debate. Thank you for such a rich discussion.


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Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Jalus, thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your taking the time to read and offer a comment in response. Thanks again.

Mike


Jake hose 5 years ago

I liked your writing, I think it's all debatable. As a professional artist I wanted to comment on creating art with repetition. If you are selling art, then making a collection of art that goes together is a wise business choice. People can decorate a whole room of your art and it will have a theme...I don't know your art experience level but I will share this insight with you anyways.


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Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Jake, thanks for your comments. I am also a professional artist, and I both understand and am willing to concede your point. When I discussed repetition, I was referring more to art as an exploration than as a collection of work to be displayed together. A series of paintings or prints can indeed be a wise business move, and I do not dispute that.

My point was that an artistic progression is ill-served by endless repetition. It can take several tries to reach what the artist has envisioned, but what then? Is it necessary to paint ten more paintings to flesh out a vision that has been articulated (so to speak) on canvas? I am skeptical in this regard, and that was my point.

Thanks for adding your insights to this discussion, I am always appreciative. Artistic insights and opinions are indeed debatable, but hopefully they have been debated with respect and courtesy here. Thanks again.

Mike


anita 5 years ago

ART is everything that arouse our senses


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Anita, thanks for reading. I appreciate your response, although I don't prescribe to so broad a definition. Violence and pain arouse our senses, but I do not consider pain or violence to be art. However, in the context I believe you intended, I agree. I thank you again for your comment. Take care.

Mike


daouady profile image

daouady 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio

"I like to pretend that my art has nothing to do with me."

Roy Lichtenstein

I am of the view that our expression of art is limited to our experience and who we are as human being. I paint, I enjoy museums and gallerias but it is all limited. Unlike the nature.


daouady profile image

daouady 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio

Thank you


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Daoady, thanks for stopping by. My art is all about me, and for me to say otherwise would be a pretense. I become what I create, and what I create is me.

I might not use the word limited, but I agree that art is affected by our experiences and who we are as human beings. I think we can use our creativity to expand as people and become more than what we were--in that sense, we feed on our creativity just as our creations grow from our inner being. We can use art to become more than what we were. Having said that, I don't believe art can transcend its creator and, in that sense, I agree with you 100%.

Mike


Edlira profile image

Edlira 5 years ago

Hi Mike, beautiful, thought-provoking hub you have written. Loved it.

I must say I agree with most of your reasoning. I have also often deliberated with fellow artists, on what is art and what isn't, and likewise, found it difficult to come up with answers. I only know what constitutes (or not) art for me.

In my opinion art is both a process and a product. The process starts as a response to an inner urge to create (absolutely not because there is a vacuum- just like you, I believe nature provides plenty of beauty sources to enjoy, appreciate and why not replicate if possible through art). I think the proccess starts as somewhat selfish (at least mine does-since I create primarily to satisfy my spiritual needs). But it doubles the satisfaction of the artist if his/her work raises postivie emotions in the viewer.

With regard to what is not art, before, I had the idea that if I got negative emotions or no emtions whatsoever while looking at a certain piece of work, than in my book that didn't classify as art. But I got in doubt while I ran across a painting of a demon or dark creature (terrifying to look at, but so beautifully carried out technically). Can just the technical skill make it a piece of art... I guess so.

To answer your question: yes, it has happened to me, plenty of times to look at a painting (whose creator called art and think...what?! I will give here one example, the first time I saw Asger Jorn's Joyous Jorney(famous danish painter), I simply coouldn't see why and how that painting was so famous. To me it was just so loud and confusing to look at. I tried to "make" myself see through it and understand the piece, but I simply can't.

Again, thank you for a great hub.

Cheers,

Edlira


networkandy profile image

networkandy 5 years ago from Connecticut

Art is making something out of nothing

Art is create an image of what is in your mind. Finding a way to make your images in your head come to reality

This is my kind of hubpage

I vote this up


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Edlira, thanks for your insights. I agree with your thoughts on why we create, and on what is and is not really art. I don't think we should have to stand in front of a painting and try to imagine a circumstance wherein what we are viewing is art--it shouldn't be that difficult. When this happens, my first instinct is to wonder if I am being conned.

Your thoughts on how and why we create were very insightful. Thanks for sharing.

Mike


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Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

SCArt, thanks for reading. I agree that the best artists tie their work to their emotions--what comes from them simply must happen. I always saw Van Gogh as the ultimate example of this. Emotionally troubled and penniless, he painted and painted until he had nothing left to give. History established his contribution to the world of art, but all he tried to do was express what was inside his heart.

Thanks again for stopping by.

Mike


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Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Networkandy, I agree with your definitions of art and thank you for your kind words. Take care.

Mike


MAGICFIVE profile image

MAGICFIVE 5 years ago from New York

What is art? Art is anything that is produced through some sort of creative process - usually for visual interest and appeal - and for most artists, the process of creating the art is enjoyable in and of itself. After that, it's all a matter of individual taste. You might say a child's drawing of a pink cat is not art, but I would disagree! In fact, personally, I ONLY like artwork that has bright, bright colors and is more funky than realistic. You could have the most magnificent artist draw me a very true to life detailed black and white sketch of Paris, and you know what? I would prefer the picture of the pink cat!


montecristo profile image

montecristo 5 years ago from Hampton Roads, Virginia

Thanks for sharing.


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Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Magicfive, thanks for your comments and insights. I would certainly agree with you--a child's drawing of a pink cat definitely qualifies as art in my eyes--in fact, children are wonderfully creative in ways unencumbered by the opinions and expectations of others. Their true and genuine expression is what makes children true artists.

Thanks again.

Mike


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Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Montecristo, thanks for stopping by--I appreciate your taking the time to read my work. Take care.

Mike


dminformer 5 years ago

I guess when I am viewing art, I'm probably more complimentary, than critical, because to me art is in the vision of the artist. So what I may or others might not value as art, in my opinion, it's the artist perspective. I have had people, while taking an art course, who weren't genuinely interested in art, or hadn't taken an art course try to correct my art work (pretending to be an artist). So for me, I think that it is in the vision of the artist and the vision that they are trying to communicate.


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Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

dminformer, thanks for stopping by. I agree for the most part with what you are saying--art is a personal vision and must be respected in that sense. I do still believe there are those who are not sincere in their work, or have not thought through what they are doing sufficiently, and I would label them (to use your phrase) as pretending to be an artist. The effort to share a personal vision is indeed art and should be treasured.

Mike


skipgaitens 5 years ago

There have been many art pieces in my life that made me what to yell and rip them off the wall. Mostly, these pieces do not seem to have any meaning behind them. If an artist's only reason for making the piece was for money, the quality of the art is lacking the key element: passion. If the artist had no real emotion behind the work, and was simply creating it for other's pleasure, than there is no fulfillment for the artist and there is no meaning in the piece. Additionally, I do not see copies of other art or photos as true art. This is not the vision of the individual, but a copied vision from someone else. Although many so-called artists are very talented, talent alone cannot make art. There must be a true, personal reason behind the piece for me to consider it art at all.

Thanks for sharing your views on this, it's always nice to hear opinions on art.


billclewis2 5 years ago

The best definition I've heard about a "great" painting, is that it "draws you in". Using this criteria, it is something somehow fascinating which keeps you rooted as you experience it or feel it. It is more than a mere glance, but something that makes you hesitate and requires you to take more of it in.

Thus, much of the wild "self-expression" examples that were one time fads are now populating closets. Art is not merely subjective interpretation, but belongs to the audience as well. This is why "great" can only be assigned in the future, when time has pronounced its judgement devoid of the need for self-expression or interpretation...it stands on its own and gives itself to the world. It is popularly appreciated without the trappings of the ego of the artist.

I was delighted when you used the term psychobabble, which becomes merely a deflection or excuse for no criteria or the absence of judgement as to what society considers art to be. Art is no more "elevated" or "honest" than other aspects of life, it is merely another aspect of human experience, although, hopefully a better aspect.

Regarding portrait art. "To memorialize those that have lived..." embodies much of what I feel good portrait art to be (first). While it includes insight, character, interesting side issues and backgrounds, they are not necessary for the portrait to have value or meaning. They often merely give context to a person who has passed this way, a historic presence devoid of any effort beyond merely recording they had lived. Thus, a portrait of a vagabond is just as important to me as one of a socially important figure.


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Mike Lickteig 4 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Billclewis, thanks for your comments and insights, and my apologies for taking so long to offer a response. I agree with you completely that art belongs to the audience as well as the artist. If it did not, what point would there ever be in displaying art? In fact, the second paragraph of your comment is as clear and profound as any thoughts I've heard on this topic. Time indeed measures greatness--when all other subjective criteria has gone by the wayside, what remains will determine what is art.

By the way, I appreciate your insights into portrait art, as well. Your views are dead-on accurate in my opinion. Thank you for sharing them.

Mike


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Mike Lickteig 4 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Skipgaitens, thanks for your comments. I apologize for skipping over them while responding. I agree that the motivations for creating art will affect the end result. Money likely will not be the motivating force behind great art, and creating art for someone else's pleasure probably isn't enough, either.

I understand what you are saying about copies not being true art, but I hope the day comes when art must be original to be seen as true art. In music, a copy is the product unless one is performing live, and the visual artist is at a disadvantage donating time and effort to a product that must be original to be perceived as true art. A copy or photograph frequently lacks an aesthetic quality the original possesses, but the same could be said about the difference between a musician's recording and a live performance. The two are appreciated in different ways. I hope that for the financial success of the visual artist, the copy can someday become the art. Having said that, I understand your point of view.

Thanks for sharing. Take care.

Mike


chef-de-jour profile image

chef-de-jour 3 years ago from Wakefield, West Yorkshire,UK

Art is one of those human inventions that developed alongside language and self expression. It is a manifestation of consciousness and can be anything to any person. A caveman's 30,000 year old hand shaped in ochre paint in a dark french cave could be art or a mere experiment. An ape painting on a canvas could fool an art critic into believing they had created a genuine abstract.

Creative processes aren't necessarily involved. You can perform artfully by doing nothing, you can sculpt artfully by placing a stone on a plinth, you can talk artfully on the subject of plastic knee joints.

Children produce naïve art that captures innocence and darkness. In this case art is the suggestible spirit making contact with the simple tools of expression.

What might be called the best art does seem to appear from the minds of gifted individuals who happen to catch the wave just when it's peaking and ride it for a lifetime. But what is art to one person means nothing to, or is not truly understood or felt by, another from an alien culture. So some art is peculiarly local and refuses to travel in a pure sense.

Perhaps art is all about opinion and taste, fashion and ignorance. It reflects what we are all about,feeding our insatiable appetites for love, controversy,beauty and mystery and more.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 3 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Chef-de-jour, you are correct to note that what defines art can differ when placed in a cultural context. I would suggest that creativity permeates almost all original activities not reduced to simple repetition, and it is a creative endeavor in its own right to perform artfully while doing nothing, etc. This assertion is mainly splitting hairs, and I would like to emphasize that I completely agree with what you've said here. I would say your final two sentences on the subject were very artfully written--their truth and eloquence profound. Thank you so much for your comments.

Mike


carlarmes profile image

carlarmes 2 years ago from Bournemouth, England

My simple philosophy on art is that if you have to be told a piece of work by an artist is art, it is therefore not art, it is purely an object labelled as art by the intellectual elite, contemporary art has all the trappings of a cult religion, you have the prophets who are those artists who first have a visual concept, you have the priests who are the tutors and the art gallery owners, you have the flock who are the believers and you have the ignorant and unworthy, the blasphemers and the non believers who are the general population. I went to Tate Modern recently and was deeply disappointed again. 60% of what you can see in Tate Modern is a let down, a fraud, a false representation of art. most people go to the Tate modern in the same way that people would have visited a freak show of the 19th century.


torrilynn profile image

torrilynn 2 years ago

I would say that art is anything that someone creates that they can see or hear. Art is found easily in everyday life. Its all around us. thanks for this hub. voted up.


lmoyer92 profile image

lmoyer92 2 years ago

It's hard to define what art isn't since putting guidelines doesn't really make it art anymore.

I don't quite think that a framed sheet of blank paper is artwork, but I do love the concept. It implies that artwork simply has no boundaries, and can literally be anything.

I'm an artist in training (training myself, anyways), and I keep my artwork up at http://dezigningart.com/gallery/. Some of what I have is just shapes twisted into different ways, and although it might now be the best of quality, I still consider it artwork.

Excellent Hub though! You have successfully gained another follower


PeterStip profile image

PeterStip 21 months ago

It's a complicated question. A car is not an art work,but put in a museum in a proper context it can be an artwork. Just have to think about Hans Haacke who put belgium chocolate boxes on show. He did this in the Ludwig Museum in Cologne. Normaly spoken it would be just some ordanary chocolate boxes but because Mr. Ludwig bought his art with his chocolate imperium makes this work of Hans Haack different.

The keyword for me is Change.

Art changes something in something else. The artist changes the colour yellow in a sun, a urinal in a concept. The bigger the change the bigger deeper the artwork.

What is not art : an object that is what it is. It's made for a function and performs that function (a computer, a table, a horse, a mountain, a car)

there is a gray area though, called design.

This question though is food for loads of books. Great as a discussion topick indeed.

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