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Great Art…What Is It?: Is It Capturing Nature or Is It Our Nature To Idealize Misery?

Updated on January 16, 2012

Renior's Bathers

Renior's Bathers.
Renior's Bathers. | Source

Great Art…What Is It?: Is It Capturing Nature or Is It Our Nature To Idealize Misery?

I was having dinner with my friend who also happens to be an Ivy League graduate and we were discussing what constitutes great art. And we spoke of many great oil painters from Van Gogh to Renoir to Monet to Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso and many others. I think we both agreed that if it was a toss up between great music and great oil paintings as the finest art in the world. We also agreed that some of the finest art in the world resides inside in Russia specifically Moscow.

It is Our Nature To Idealize Our Misery.

But what we couldn’t seem to agree upon was what constituted great art. I argued that great art idealized life and inspired us to live idealized lives which we could never achieve and therefore would always be made miserable by art. As a matter of fact I have noticed in many films that the art is perfectly awful in the film as not to distract from the beauty of the cinematography. There are exceptions to this rule. I think the film Eyes Wide Shut had some very fine art pieces. Stanley Kubrick was one of the only film makers who could have beautiful art in his films that would add to the film and not distract.

Quite frankly it is my contention that if art imitated life it would be unmarketable as no one would wish to buy more misery.

I know that all art is based on mathematical principles. Art is applied math theory. I believe this to be true about the movie Citizen Kane and I readily broke the Mathematical scheme. It was really easy. But I wouldn’t want to ruin the fun for you but it does have something to do with the word “rosebud”. Although Math could be found anywhere anyone looks and I have found no reference on this subject. It is just my opinion which I clearly admit that the movie has a mathematical formula which can easily be derived.

So it was my argument we need art to idealize our lives and inspire us if not move us out of our misery.

Art Imitates Nature

My dinner guest gave me numerous examples of realistic artists specifically from the Netherlands and who were Dutch. And he was correct I had seen paintings so well painted you can’t tell the difference between them and a modern day photograph.

My friend claimed that art was a historical measure of reality in our time no matter what form it was in and that it was a reflection of all of our realties both good and bad. He further contended I had too simplistic view of art as some of it was functional as well. He was referring to Afrikan art which we were both very found of.

We both couldn’t think of an example of a movie that imitated life so we just eliminated film as an art.

Social Networking As An Art Form

And finally we discussed how people project themselves with lies or embellishments about themselves to one another to create and illusion for the lack luster lives they lead. And whether death was the removal of all the lies that made one human being seem important to another. Because hasn’t social networking become the new form of art in which people project and idealized version of themselves in an already deluded world?

On this last point we agreed. People have begun creating themselves no longer out of loyalty, honesty and hard work but out of lies and tricks which they prey upon each other’s ignorance. And in the worst form people are lying to themselves about themselves and leading unrealized, unfulfilled lives which is complete misery. This leads to both modern philosophocal and ethical debates about what the true intentions of social networking which bare careful consideration when children are involved in the social networking sites..

In Conclusion

We have great dinner parties debating these points in our modern time and I leave it to you to decide for yourself. Does art imitate life or does art help one transcend lifes’ tragedies. Is it aspiration or inspirational?

No happy with this clip but it does show the art I am referring to. I would have done the film just for the art work as it is grand but you might have to rent the movie to see it.

Eyes Wide Shut


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    • JT Walters profile image

      JT Walters 5 years ago from Florida

      Thank you although Renior is creator of the picture. Renoir is alway wonderful.

      Thanks for reading and have a great day!!


    • Anil and Honey profile image

      Anil 5 years ago from Kerala

      Good hub and fancy picture

    • JT Walters profile image

      JT Walters 6 years ago from Florida

      Hi Marie,

      I think we covered African Artb in this hub and no my views do not change about art from contintuent to continent. For instance Pollock's art is based on Fractals which is mathematical concept. Here is the citation. I hope youfind Discover a reliable citation.

      All Art is based on Mathematics and are less about nature but more about transcending the misery in our lives in every culture.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.


    • Marie Gail profile image

      Marie Gail Stratford 6 years ago from Olathe, KS

      I would be interested in whether your theories on art would change if you considered non-European art. Many American artists, Whistler and Polluck to name a couple, have much more gritty interpretations than Renoir and Monet. Even more disparity in art comes when one factors in Asian, African and Aboriginal Australian art.

    • JT Walters profile image

      JT Walters 6 years ago from Florida

      Hi Dexter,

      It is great to hear from you and I would love to have you not as a fly but as a guest at my table. I think sometimes we aspire to things which art muses us to and we fail thus creating the misery. But it is a much longer discussion then is provided for here on HP.

      I bet you are an artist Dex and that is how you know how to answer this question. Thanks for the read, comments and votes. I have a reply button but I am not quite certain if I am suppose to hit it to directly reply to you or if I am just suppose to comment. It is you so I will try a direct reply.

      As always my best for you Dex.


    • Dexter Yarbrough profile image

      Dexter Yarbrough 6 years ago from United States

      Hi JT! This is certainly an enlightening hub! I really enjoyed reading it. I would love to be a fly on the wall at your dinner parties. I bet the conversations are quite interesting (and educational).

      As for your questions, I believe that art imitates life AND helps one transcend life's tragedies. It all comes down to the artists' perspective, perception and personal feelings at the time he/she is being creative. As such, I think the artists' creation can be inspirational, yet, fulfill an aspiration to achieve something.

      Great hub. I am hoping for more discussion. Voted up, up and away!