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From:Conceptualism, as a rule, rejects the very idea of technical ability and crafsmanship, so doesn't meet my criteria for what art is. I was given pause, tonight, as I rather admired a conceptualist statement piece on the Iraq war by Steve McQueen, called 'Queen and Country'; involving dead soldiers faces printed on stamps, reproduced in multiples on large sheets and fitted into a sort of filing cabinet display. It made a strong and timely statement, I thought, and the idea itself has a certain value. (I.e. that the dead soldiers deserve to be on actual stamps as a constant reminder of individual sacrifice).
I would not be so narrow minded as to allow no space for this sort of thing. That doesn't mean that as a rule the conceptualist definition should replace art that meets the criteria I gave previously. The piece was shown as part of a documentary on British war art. One omission that stood out was Sargent's 'Gassed', which shows that a profound statement about the horror and pity of war can be made while satisfying criteria of aesthetics and craftsmanship.
As a rule I find conceptual/performance/installation art so different from art as I would define it (and as it was always defined until the 20th century) that I think it should be called something else. Generally I think modernism and postmodernism represent offshoots and speciation away from art as it was formerly defined. They are a totally different creature, and there is no longer genetic compatability or common ground- very little anyway. (Neither Abstract Expressionist nor Conceptualist offerings would not have been recognized as art by any cultured person living 100 or 2000 years before). The original creature did not become extinct, despite being ignored by official art history. It continued to exist in the form of the realist painters who gained little credit throughout the 20th century- in those who accepted the labels of 'illustrator' or 'traditionalist'. The world may be big enough for both types of art but the mutant progeny should find its own place to reside and not squat in galleries that were originally founded for visual art of intrinsic quality.
In Samuel Johnson's A Dictionary of the English Language (1755)
1. The power of doing fomething not taught by nature and inftinct; as, to walk is natural, to dance is an art.
2. A fcience; as, the liberal arts.
3. A trade.
4. Artfulnefs; fkill; dexterity.
Walker and Webster combined in a dictionary of the English language (1873)
The disposition or modification of things by human skill, as opposed to nature; a system of rules serving to facilitate the performance of certain actions as opposed to science, as the art of building; skill, dexterity or the power of performing certain actions; arts are divided into the useful or mechanical and the liberal or polite; artifice; duplicity
Concise standard dictionary of the English language ...: abridged ... James Champlin Fernald, Funk & Wagnalls Company - 1910
1. Skill in some practical work; dexterity; facility; a system of rules; as, the industrial or mechanical arts.
2. The embodiment of beautiful thought in artistic forms; also, the works thus produced, collectively; as esthetic or fine arts; also artistic skill.
4. An organized body of trained craftsmen; a gild.
So okay, here, 1910, the turn of the 20th century is the first mention of art as some kind of art being some kind of beauty language, so we will step back to just before the turn of the century.
A dictionary of the English language By Noah Webster (1892)
Acquired skill; dexterity; aptitude; skill; artifice; deceit.
Skillful; cunning; crafty; sly.
Free from art, craft, or strategem; ingenuous; contrived without art or skill; inartificial.
Hmm, throughout all this, I don't see anything precluding conceptual art being classified as art. Even under "The embodiment of beautiful thought in artistic forms;" could conceptual conceivably art pass under the heading of art.
It was interesting to note the gradual progression of art from basically anything artificial to some kind of higher beauty.
Of course even now, the definition of beauty is changing and so in 2010 there comes the formulation of digihamid's law, "Art means sex drawing."
Ha! Since the research was done, you guys get to be included too.
Not that I have doubts about the future usefulness of this thread but we've had like 20 threads in the past few weeks/months beating around what art is. We might as well stop fighting it and just have a perpetual discussion contained to one thread about the subject.
You can read the dictionary...congratulations?
...my humble and uneducated opinion.
WHAT is UP with this weird spreading rash of "What Is Art" debates!? Is there something in the air, or what?
I wonder how much actual art could have been made in the total amount of time spent debating what art is...
I've always considered the "appeal to dictionary" to be a logical fallacy in its own right, amongst the reasons I do are that by its nature the definitions will be superficial at best and a tendency for dictionaries to use circular definitions for difficult words (e.g. art being the embodiment of beauty in artistic form; artistic skill; works produced as fine arts; et cetera).
However I will give you props for looking through different dictionaries over the ages, so I'll play a lil'.
It would seem, according to these dictionaries, that none of the works being debated over in other threads are art in the specific sense that was being applied as there is only a general sense of art. Thus Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel is an "art" as my stacking of packages on a palette in a warehouse is an "art".
That doesn't quite jibe with me, nor would I think with anyone else.
More interesting, I think, would be how prominent writers over the ages have used the word art. Most useful would be English and early American writers, followed by other European sources with careful consideration given to date of translation.
What did "artists" of earlier ages think of the word? Did Leonardo Da Vinci have anything to say? Or Rubens? What about Gerome or Bouguereau? How about philosophers of the times? Usage of the word, or lack of, rather than the simple dictionary definition would be far more telling.
Now forgive me if I leave you hanging a bit, but this evening is supposed to be dedicated primarily to my artwo~ pardon, I mean my current illustration. Perhaps tomorrow evening I'll have some time to do some digging, if you don't beat me to it.
-My work can be found at my local directory thread.
Punish evil doers for great justice?Just out of curiosity, supposing you do stumble across the Ultimate Universal Definition of Art... What in the world do you plan to do with it?
Nah. If you read the first definition it says that art is something not taught by nature and instinct. Which I guess lifting and stacking things would be concidered as. Though science and mathematics would be concidered arts. Just as blacksmithing and interior design would be concidered art.Thus Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel is an "art" as my stacking of packages on a palette in a warehouse is an "art".
And honestly I like this definition way more than 'something that's too weird for anyone to comprehend without a degree in bullshit interpretation'
Use it like a straightjacket. Then see if I can tie it tight enough to strangle the mo'fu' in it.
Oh, were you asking Robotus? My bad! :)
Bullshit.Nah. If you read the first definition it says that art is something not taught by nature and instinct. Which I guess lifting and stacking things would be concidered as. Though science and mathematics would be concidered arts. Just as blacksmithing and interior design would be concidered art.
You try building 6 palettes simultaneously 8' tall each with a constant stream of packages that vary in weight, size, and shape while sorters crowd your walking space by tossing new packages your way faster than you can place them... and tell me that's not an art as defined by dictionary! :)
Actually, I'm all for just saying "fuck it, nothing is art!" or "fuck it, everything is art!". In spite of my last post, I'm more likely to refer to what I'm doing as drawing, or painting, or illustration, or studies, or anything but art.
If it weren't for that my wife sometimes likes to talk about how her husband is artistic, I probably wouldn't use the word at all!
-My work can be found at my local directory thread.
Once an very wise artist said,I dont know what art is in its various forms, but for me art that short for articulation is only important.
Look for whats important for you.
Traditionally, at least in the English-speaking world, "Art" is a shortened form of the name "Arthur".
Glad I could clear that up for everyone.
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"Skill is the result of trying again and again, applying our ability and proving our knowledge as we gain it. Let us get used to throwing away the unsuccessful effort and doing the job over. Let us consider obstacles as something to be expected in any endeavor; then they won't seem quite so insurmountable or so defeating." - Andrew Loomis
This. Is exactly true. Some scheme, artifice, skill is art. It sort of meshes with Dashinvaine's definition and sort of contradicts it. So, it tempers it - sort of like an extra few calculations in calculus makes a more accurate depiction of a curve. Under these definitions, art is clearly a vague, not a transcendent word. Some conceptual artist ordering someone to stack bricks is every much an art as a foreman ordering a bunch of builders to stack bricks.
That definition of art is very satisfying. I've heard that in Asian countries even pouring tea was a respected art. Even the individual exertions of living life and struggling in our individual ways to achieve something. That is art. Perhaps even in the transcendent modern sense.
Though I don't care for a lot of post-modernist work, that is the message I glean from a lot of it. Even the most simple and banal act or thing is considerable, interesting, has it's own beauty, and should be considered. If it takes the weight of a millionaire buying a pile of bricks for some ridiculous price to slam that point home, so be it.
Though, I think I get that meaning out of it in spite of some of the artists that orchestrate the works. I think of it as working by itself using the artists silly attempts at fame as pivot points and oftentimes in spite of the artists and their ridiculous explanations.
For fome frange reafon 's's were typed as 'f's, hiftorically, except when they appeared at the end of the word in queftion. Not exactly 'f's but long 's's, which look fcarily fimilar. Doing it now makes you feem to have a lifp, like Chris Eubank.
Last edited by dashinvaine; November 9th, 2010 at 12:49 PM.