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  1. #1
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    Talking What is art? Baby don't hurt me! (Discussion)

    Oh boy, here goes...

    First of a disclaimer:
    It's been a while since I last roamed the binary halls of CA, and my judgement of norm isn't great at the best of times. So if this Thread is out of place in any way, please let me know so I can adjust accordingly.
    That being said, if there is anywhere I'd like to have this discussion it's here.

    Back in the day, when I made an account for these forums, my biggest aspirations in life where to be a concept artist for computer games. Since then a lot has changed. Since then I left my studies in game development for a degree in Fine Arts, and instead of a concept artist I am now a conceptual artist. Yes the joke is real! As much as these titels are alike linguistically, they could not me more different in meaning.
    To clarify: I am now a conceptual fine artist. I make art that, in general, does not care about aesthetics but instead soley excists for the purpose of communicating a certain concept. (for more on this I reccommend Sol Lewit's lines on conceptual art)

    Now when I look trough the Fine art section, and CA in general, I see a lot of focus on skill. I would even dare say I see art being approached as if it is mostly a matter of craftmanship. I have not problem with this, and even a fair amount of respect for that. However, this approach to art is almost perpendicular to the way I have been educated about art, as well as the way my teachers approached it. I have yet to see a single post here where drawing/painting skill and aesthetics are not vital parts in the art showed off, while in most of my class members' practice, these are concidered second rate traits at best. So as I ask this question wherever I go, I must ask it here as well:

    What do you think is art?
    Where are the borders of what can be called art?/What is needed for something to be art?


    Please be brutally honest, but respectfull in the discussion. I'm excited to learn about your points of view.


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  3. #2
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    From a personal point of view, I think there are a lot of ways to define art.
    The most relevant for me is as a medium of and for creativity.

    In my graduation thesis I concluded that the only purpose that connects all forms of art troughout history is communication. And that the artist, even when working in commision, communicates trough descisions made on the work. (be it in pallet choice, framing or even choice of medium). That being said, a lot of things can be considered art. Wether it's good art then is another discussion.

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    I think conceptual art is a one trick thought. Once that thought has been explained, what else can it give? Without any sort of aesthetics, generally, conceptual art is pretty ugly. Most hit you over the head with how clever the artist it. Without craft, it's the Emperor's New Clothes. Conceptual artists can't even take commissions, and are bound by the rules of the gallery system. Even abstract art has more emotive feelings that can be explored, and expanded on. A thought is more more than a whim. I enjoy a good thought every now and then, but I also like to relax and have my eyes fed with a feast. Why would you starve people's souls with only a thought?

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  6. #4
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    Personally I beg to differ as a thought feeds my soul more than any image can. But that is besides the point.

    My question here is how you would define art and why.
    Where does it begin and where does it end?

    It is clear to me that most would not consider Conceptualism among the domain of art, and honestly I don't mind (A rose by any name would smell as sweet). However, as conceptualism in my research is so close to the essence of artistic creation I have a hard time seeing it any other way. That is what bothers me. As I must train my hand and eyes, I must train my mind. This is my main reason for asking these questions.

    I hope anyone here can help

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    subjectively... for me... skill. objectively I have no answer... "or everything." I appreciate and love and respect what the impressionists brought upon us. They were the first ones to ask the question "what is art?" But honestly after the period of post impressionism, I can only hand pick a few artist that stood out as original. For the longest time I championed Mark Rothko. I thought his field paintings were very original, very intelligent, clever etc etc... until I found out recently that even he has a precedent. Kazimir Malevich existed before him. It would be fun to be a conceptual artist and come up with something original and new, but for me being one feels like a losing game since the post impressionists pretty much did it all. I can pretty much walk into any "edgy" gallery, look at the artwork they have, and be able to think of someone who did the same exact thing before. About the only original thing I could think of conceptually was the graffitti movement of the 1980's.... doing art with no money involved is a novel idea... then Banksy's resale market ruined that concept. oh yeah, the happening movement of the sixties were original too. But even those I feel have a precedent in experimental theatre.

    To be fair I can say the same thing about concept art. Honestly, how many more times will I see robots, wizards, and almost always barely clothed females fight it out? None of those are original too. But as for someone who went the "realism" route I can honestly respect the skill involved in making those kinds of paintings.

    Anyways... to sum it up... art is everything. The impressionist and post impressionist made sure that everyone knows that art can be anything. That is my objective answer. Subjectively art is skill. I would rather attempt to paint a Bougeureau painting than rehash Manzoni's "Merde d'artist."
    Last edited by edgarej; 2 Weeks Ago at 09:31 PM.

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    Without idea, skillfully done image is just boring to look at its sort of looks "dead". Idea without skill is just idea which I believe is disposable as if you give same idea to 10 different artists they are going to produce 10 different pieces, but when you combine both, you produce something remarkable imo. https://www.howardlyon.com/blog/2014...deas-vs-skills

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    problem is, fine art and the "fine art" taught in universities are so opposite that they should NOT be conflated. They are as different in practice as chemistry and cooking. I'm not saying one is better than the other, I'm saying they are not the same thing at all. Knowing that, you cannot evaluate one on the standards of the other. So the real question is which art do you mean?


    In my point of view, art is the ordered expression of beauty through visual means. It's like poetry, but with pictures.

    The university definition I think would be that art is pretty much anything. It includes my definition, and definitions that have yet to be invented.

    To sum up, you are asking the wrong question. Because the word Art itself has a dual definition. To an average Joe, when you say Art they are thinking you mean stuff like Leonardo da Vinci, and when they say your stuff isn't art, they are quite right in their mind. Nobody has let them in on the fact that a new definition for (the word!) Art was invented, and the rug swept from under them. So the conversation about what Art is usually ends up being an argument about what the word is supposed to refer to, and not about anything of substance.
    Last edited by JoeCowan; 2 Weeks Ago at 03:26 PM.

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  13. #8
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    I feel like comparing and contrasting different genre's of art is interesting, but a bit like apples and oranges. The goals by which a piece is made vary, and the success or failure of each piece is weighed differently. I'm reminded of a painting of what I think was just a blue square. Apparently some guy spent a load of time trying to get just the perfect shade of blue, and when he did he just covered the canvas or whatever in it. Sure, it's not a great perspective drawing or a great depiction of the last supper, but damn if it isn't a nice shade of blue. I think people tend to take art too seriously due to ego. I only speak from my own experience of course. The idea that my art or my opinions about art could be inferior is simply preposterous, and I know this because I studied that Andrewlooms book that one time.

    I'm trying to hone my skill of course, but I think ego needs to step aside and let the creativity out to do what it does better than ego. I think an artist only needs to learn as much as it takes to effectively express themselves and I think that's different for everyone. Unfortunately for me, that skill level seems to be far beyond my current reach. Or perhaps that's merely my ego. I've spent a lot of time dreaming about the artist I'd like to be without actually taking advantage of the artist I currently am. My nonsensical fear of making bad art has kept me from making much of any art, but that feels like it's finally changing. Better to make sucky art forever than to make no art at all.
    Sketchbook

    The best way to hunt in a mushroom forest is to climb on the back of a butterfly.

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  15. #9
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    I think stonec is right. Half of a skill, means it's lacking. Thought and craft seems to be outside the capability of many conceptual artists, as it is also is with more traditional artists. When both work together, you can only get awesome.

    So YUZworks, do you use skills learnt to express thoughts or just thoughts?

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    Quote Originally Posted by YUZworks View Post
    To clarify: I am now a conceptual fine artist.
    good for you, what ever that is supposed to mean .

    Quote Originally Posted by YUZworks View Post
    I make art that, in general, does not care about aesthetics but instead soley excists for the purpose of communicating a certain concept. (for more on this I reccommend Sol Lewit's lines on conceptual art)
    im having a hard time understanding your concept though, as it sounds to me alot more like branding than concept. imo you become a conceptual artist by having something to say in a possibly unique way. i dont see how someone can study this. if you run down the street backwards tomorrow with your pants at your ankles, saying "weee" every third step... wouldnt this be considered conceptual in an academic sense?

    dont get me wrong malevich's black square on white background is a breakthrough to me, and i appreciate whats behind nitsch, or the "wiener gruppe aktionismus". i appreciate duchamp's pissoir. but theres a lot more to it if it comes to concept than meets the eye. if your art does that... good. if not its most likely just a hoax. the big thing in conceptual work imo is if its new, revolutionary and challenging. if its not its just wannabe trash imo trying to cash in on reproducing whatever.
    "Have only 4 values, but all the edges you want."
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    "To any man who has slaved to acquire skill in his art, it is most irritating to have his ability referred to as a 'gift.'"
    Andrew Loomis

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  18. #11
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    A subjective expression stemming from observation, advancing a mimicry mockery or desire. yellow balloon trampoline.

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    I think we're getting to the part that, to me at least, is most interesting.

    There is a lot of apples and oranges (and mushrooms and so on) that are all called art. At the academy, a lot of students and teachers used to differentiate between art and Art, and even then definitions varied per classroom.
    I like a lot how edgarej makes the clear difference between objective and subjective interpretation, as well as JoeCowan who compares personal point of view to the university definition.
    Code:
    So the conversation about what Art is usually ends up being an argument  about what the word is supposed to refer to, and not about anything of  substance.
    The first part of this statement I agree with, the second part I oppose. I believe, that as more articles pop up on my feed about musea showing only *this* type of art, and 'the people' only considering *that* art not wanting their tax money funding the other type, defenition is sumething substantial.

    When someone who spend 50 years perfecting oil paint, falls into the same denominator as conceptual art or furry porn, I think it's time to reconsider.
    I am not hating on furry porn, or even calling it less than the experienced oil painter (on a skill level, perhaps), I'm just streching the definition as much as I can to make a point.
    Anyway, in those social circles, even the most shoddy drawing of (furry) porn is refferd to as art.

    Just to be clear, this is not a quest for who has the right to be called an artist, I couldn't care less. Like I quoted before, no matter the name, a rose smells and looks the way it does.
    Rather, I'm amazed that there are so many fields, most of them interconnected, many of them conflicting or even rejecting eachother, but all of them called art.
    I think it's amazingly interesting, but also impractical to an almost massochistic extend because I've seen it bar the way for creative interpreneurs more than once.

    Code:
    Without idea, skillfully done image is just boring to look at its sort  of  looks "dead". Idea without skill is just idea which I believe is  disposable as if you give same idea to 10 different artists they are  going to produce 10 different pieces,  but when you combine both, you  produce something remarkable imo.
    Again I mostly agree. But I reject the suggestion that 10 renderings of the same idea can not each be remarkable on their own. In the length of that, I do also not agree with the junxtaposition of ideas v.s. skill as howardlyon states it, as artistic skill from the way I understand art goes beyond aestheticism. Duchamp for example, was considered a chess player while making art. Carefully reacting to the specific situation of each exposition and reception of each work. So rather than utilising his skill as a painter, he utilised a different skillset to express himself. At the same time reconsidering the nature of art, like Cézanne before him.
    (Duchamp incidentally was also a chess player, and a good one at that)

    In other words: I believe idea and and skill should align for an artwork to be good, but also that a lot of art that is not good, is still to be called art. (bad art is still art)
    Stating this, I'm awkwardly aware that this conflicts with at least some of the more old fashioned definitions of art which only recognised succesfull pieces as such as art was a denominator for the best of it's kind.

    @Some-one: yeah, I definately should have picked that scentence more carefull in the light of this topic. There might be some words lost in translation as well.
    'Conceptual fine artist', or 'conceptueel beeldend kunstenaar' as it would be in dutch, translates more literal to 'Conceptual imaging artist' which in my opinion is a more acurate definition anyway. Especially since a musician is also considerd an artist among some, but not to others as the musician makes sound, not images. A little sidestepping only to examplify the potential depth of the word art.

    Some-one also states that, if I understand correctly, my approach on conceptualism sounds more like branding than conceptual art. I get that, though I do not agree. Branding has the sole purpose of convincing it's audience of a certain statement. (Buy this, like that, vote here, stand there) Me, I consider art being a form of communication without exception. Being it a statement of skill, beauty, or any other concept. If this communication could have been in words, it would have been trough either an essay, haiku or blogpost. Instead, the artist chooses a different medium, as it serves the message better. Painting a beautifull authum oak is an ode to natural beauty as much as it is a show of skill. Depending on how the artist emphasises each stroke, it could highlight the rays of sun, perfection of nature, or rather that one branch wilting away. The communication might not be concious, but it is there nontheless.

    Now as a conceptual artist, I simply focus on this underlying communication to creatively express myself and share ideas and senstations with my audience. Not in the hope of convincing them or even communicating a word-for-word message, but rather sharing this otherwise ungraspable notion stuck in my head trough art. Just as that painting of the authum tree shares something.

    I'm not trying to turn this into a manifesto about conceptualism though... Just trying to explain where I'm comming from.

    @Black Spot; I use skill whenever the concept requires it.
    EG: Right now I'm doing a series of landscape drawings and paintings with computer games as my subjects. It's an exploration on some frictions between reality and virtual reality. So naturally, to actively study this, besides not actively going into nature but choosing a virtual nature instead, I can not do anything different then when I would go into nature. So I even reduce my tools and materials to the ones I usually would fit into my backpack. Likewise I approach them with the same skill and attention as I normally would real life drawings, and really try my best to improve on drawing trough this new filter (the framing of the pc screen, pixelated reality ect) while at the same time respecting this view as it is.
    On other works, I end up being more of a producer than a painter. It varies a lot as I go from making paintings, publications, performances ect. Even the most narrow definition of fine art allows space for a lot of skill sets.
    Hope this answers your question.

    After being a bit all over the place with this (hopefully still making sense, please tell me if I don't) I do like to reflect on what David_a_ray typed:
    I agree that Ego is often in the way while making or defining art. Actually I think it's one of the problems why defining the field nowadays is so hard.
    At the same time, despite all this, it comes down to doing what you like to do and trying to be good at it.

    Yet still I believe that getting the right definition is more than a matter of ego. Sadly it is also a matter of sales, the difference of being able to approach a full time effort either as a hobby or an income. And as publicly subsidised musea and public art get involved in the discourse, the cultural development of mine and their neighbours...

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    Hi, I commented my thoughts a bit on your post. Please take no offence, they are rough versions of my thoughts, I respect you. I am a second year fine art student at an art academy who has a deep love for both conceptual art and classic realism
    problem is, fine art and the "fine art" taught in universities are so opposite that they should NOT be conflatedanet Hm. fine art and fine art are the same thing to me. They are as different in practice as chemistry and cooking. I'm not saying one is better than the other, I'm saying they are not the same thing at all. Knowing that, you cannot evaluate one on the standards of the other. So the real question is which art do you mean? What is this "fine art that is not taught in universities" that you assume everybody knows of?



    In my point of view, art is the ordered expression of beauty through visual meansnot nessecerily through visual means. what do you mean with "ordered expression"? I'd say art has got to do with beauty (tho it's not it's only factor), just not in it's conventional forms. There can be beauty in the exchange of an idea, a reaction you provoke etc. It's like poetry, but with pictures I'd say: it can be. but not only with pictures; also with all other visuals and all senses.

    The university definition I think would be that art is pretty much anything. It includes my definition, and definitions that have yet to be invented. cannot disagree

    To sum up, you are asking the wrong question. maybe ur answer is wrong, no offence Because the word Art itself has a dual definition. to you. please explain To an average Joe, when you say Art they are thinking you mean stuff like Leonardo da Vinci, and when they say your stuff isn't art, they are quite right in their mind. Nobody has let them in on the fact that a new definition for (the word!) Art was invented, and the rug swept from under them. So the conversation about what Art is usually ends up being an argument about what the word is supposed to refer to, and not about anything of substance then maybe... bring substance to the discussion?
    Summary: I am curious what this second form of fine art is you talk about (the fine art that is not taught in academies). And I would like to hear some more of your thoughts on what this and the other fine art consists of

    Kind regards

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    I think the art consumption/creation starts after their basic needs (nice social interaction, nice food, nice place to sleep) are satisfied.

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    @YUZ whats your point? theres no limits to what can be considered art. imo "art" is everything going beyond the ordinary to express something ... literaly anything. and theres like 7 billion unique views on that.

    imo the question behind, "is that art?" is always about trying to have a go at differing opinions, and getting support for that. who cares?

    if you do what you love some might consider it art. if youre trying to sell anything because the label sells... good luck.
    "Have only 4 values, but all the edges you want."
    Glen Orbik

    "To any man who has slaved to acquire skill in his art, it is most irritating to have his ability referred to as a 'gift.'"
    Andrew Loomis

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    Quote Originally Posted by PushyPoesje View Post
    Hi, I commented my thoughts a bit on your post.
    I'll just make it simple.

    "So the conversation about what Art is usually ends up being an argument about what the word is supposed to refer to, and not about anything of substance then maybe... bring substance to the discussion?"

    I will forgive your rudeness, but I'd like to point out that you are doing exactly as I've said. Instead of really addressing what I've said, you've picked apart my words and argued about what they should refer to. I've given my definition. It's imperfect, but I think you get what I'm going for. It's like poetry, or music, but with stuff to look at instead.

    Here's how I explain Art in the most broad way: You take visual things, put them in some order according to some aesthetic sense (this is where beauty comes in), and it has meaning. That's as basic and liberal an explanation as I can get. This is extremely wide encompassing, including everything from cave paintings, art of different cultures, and contemporary illustrations, and even abstract art, not just Classical art. It's somewhat open for discussion, however it's different from the university in the sense that it's not really open for redefining. For example the conceptual artist can say: well what if I say such and such thing is Art? And thus, this kind of art is about the very question What is Art?

    The other art isn't about that question.


    The OP asks the wrong question to us because it would be as if someone who spoke a foreign language asked What is Shoe? In their language the word shoe means who knows what, and in ours it's something we wear on our feet. The answers aren't going to translate!


    Last edited by JoeCowan; 1 Week Ago at 10:00 PM.

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