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Updated on October 7, 2014

Vision and Taste

I walked onto the park lawn of the art expose in the capitol of North Carolina hoping to find some inspiration for my next book. There were a conglomerate of items that I assumed were supposed to depict the “vision” and “taste” of its creator…the artist. As I stopped to investigate the apparent excitement over one particular piece, it occurred to me that the premise of the old cliché; “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder”.

It was definitely a unique piece but not so profound in my eyes that it merited the prolific “oohs and aahs” that surrounded me. The pieces of logs held together with wire and rope, tapered with bells and metal hooks, and a bell dangling from a string in the center did nothing to tickle my inner psyche. I resolved to simply contribute my misguided artistic fortitude to the fact that maybe I just wasn’t familiar with the artist, or maybe the view facing the sun distorted my perception. It was at that moment I was struck with my second premise; “Who decides what is truly good art?”

Just My Opinion

It has always been my opinion that true art should not only simulate unfathomable beauty, but also stimulate a realm of artistic consciousness not otherwise ventured. The only stimulus this piece created for me was finding the perfect place to tie my horse, if I had one with me. At that point I surmised, in all probability wrongly, that the concept of “good art” was simply based on how an artist presented his personal perceptions.

It seems pretty clear that in this highly technological cosmopolitan era in which we live, anything can be declared “a work of art.” The answer to what constitutes art is as complex as trying to understand the human anatomy. You don’t always conceivably understand how the body works, but you know that it always does. In this 21st century there is no firm idea as to what art really is and the idea of trying to put it into defined guidelines is an absurdity that no one should dare try.

I Will Resolve that....

Consequently, I have resolved that most art work these days fulfill its purpose when it becomes a treatment or the solution for both the artist and the viewer who identifies with that artist. When it can change someone’s perspective of themselves, of life, and of things in their hearts, then it is truly art. Ideally, good art makes you think, makes you rationalize, sensitizes you, and clarifies perplexing perceptions. When your perception matches that of the artist, you indeed purge the abstract things you don’t need in your psyche and replace them with the identifying things you do need.

But the question still stands, “who decides what is truly good art?” Though the answer is so simple that it seems so complex, it is yet both objective and subjective. Good art is like reading a book, listening to music, or watching a television show; either you like it or you don’t. What has captured the imagination and stimulated creativity, promoted beauty and boggled the mind, and what has a profound effect that leaves you breathless is purely dependent upon each individual. To that end, the question of “what is truly good art” is a perception governed and motivated by an individual’s upbringing, life’s experiences, and their own idiosyncrasies.

Forget Irrelevant Fallacies

It is major fallacy to assume there is some universal authority that looks at a painting, or a sculpture, or some other form of art and determines whether it is good or bad, acceptable or junk. Basically, what each individual perceives as good art is a direct reflection of who they are and how they perceive the world around them. Art is just a form of expressing and exchanging those perceptions as well as attempting to understand each other and the world we live in.

The truth is, maybe the words “good” and “bad” are irrelevant when it comes to art. What one person perceives as bad may be the very thing that someone else wishes they had been given the inspiration to create. Whatever the case, we can surmise that whether good or bad, beauty is indeed in the eyes of the beholder.


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