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« Bizarre Animation | Main | The Case of the Missing Insignia »

October 04, 2006

Art? ... Who Sez So?

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

A while ago I posted on "sound-effects art" and one commenter claimed my "posting seems to be another salvo in a regular 2 blowhards series that follows the syllogism: "I do not consider this to be art, therefore it should not be considered art."

The commenter has a point because I find it hard to consider sound effects as art.

This raises a larger issue: Just who determines what is art and what isn't.

I get the impression that, nowadays, "art" is often what the "artist" claims is "art." Though it helps if a journalist or some other party with a smidgen of respectability buys the claim.

(And who defines who is an artist? Seems to me that these days this can be simple self-identification -- "I am an artist and who are you to deny my greatness?")

But if seemingly just about anyone -- including the creator of an object or gallery owners who clearly have a strong self-interest in having that object considered art -- can claim things as art, then why can't just about anyone deny that something is art?

It only seems fair.

Ah, but that's no good because any old blowhard (or Blowhard) might well be a drooling ignoramus unfit to to pass judgment on anything, let alone art.

But if it can't be just anybody, then: Whee!! We're on the edge of the slippery slope of credentialism!

I don't want to go there. Not in this post, anyway. But I'll note that self-appointed establishments make me a little nervous.

So how about this innocent li'l ol' talking point? -- Let the "market" (the gallery scene, public opinion, whatever) decide what's art and what's not. Yes, this can be a messy process and the results hardly clear-cut. Yet it seems to be roughly how art has been defined in practice in our mass-media age. The guy who makes something can call it "art." A writer for The New York Times can agree. A Blowhard can beg to differ. And innocent bystanders might sort it all out, eventually.

Is this better than leaving things up to "experts?"

Where do you stand?

Later,

Donald

posted by Donald at October 4, 2006




Comments

It's an eternal puzzler, isn't it? For me, I guess I've been around NYC long enough to settle on the notion that it's all art. Classical painting, pop music, ads, conceptual stuff, sound effects ... Why not?

Now, is it good art, or worthwhile art? Or do I like it or not? That's all up for grabs.

Seems to me that the confusion that erupts sometimes is over whether "art" implies "something significant." If we call something "art" are we automatically praising it? Or are we just categorizing it in a non-judging way?

I think people often scramble these two usages. One person can say "Of course it's art!", meaning that that's simply what it is, while another person can hear him saying "I like it, it's good!", which isn't necessarily implied. I mean, calling something "a car" doesn't mean it's a good car or a bad car, it's just what it is.

I'm not sure I can defend my strategy on any deep grounds. It sure helps me avoid a lot of arguments I'd rather avoid though, and there's something to be said for that. "Is it art? Sure, why not?"

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on October 4, 2006 5:54 PM



As an designer/artist,from the designers perspective, I can stand back a bit from the 'artist' perspective and say this. Since art in itself is not rooted in any universal/moral truth. Anyone can be an artist, anything can be art. Whether we like it or not. Markets cannot determine what is art since they exist to make money and latch onto trends.

From what I've gathered in my experience, the question is no longer 'is it art' but 'is it good art' or ' is it valid'

Cheers

Posted by: Eric on October 4, 2006 5:57 PM



Letting the market decide what is art would at least have the interesting side-effect of eliminating starving artists, as the very term would then seem to be an oxymoron.

Posted by: i, squub on October 4, 2006 6:18 PM



"Art" is the noise a seal makes.

That's obviously flip, and dismissive, and confrontational, but the Orwellian definitional battle here has been lost. Humpty Dumpty's rule (to switch literary references) now applies: "When [anyone] uses [this] word, it means what [he] want[s] it to mean; neither more, nor less."

The current battle is over whether value judgements about art are even legitimate. (IIRC, this battle was joined in the comments thread of the post you refer to.) As to that, let's just say that I have, and will express, opinions. If you are among those who would complain about harsh judgements of art, just think of the judgements as an art form of their own, a meta-art if you will, and thus immune from criticism. I'm sure that will make you feel better.

Posted by: Doug Sundseth on October 4, 2006 6:49 PM



Just calling something "art" has the interesting effect of refocusing a perspective on what could otherwise be overlooked. For instance, this ten second movie of a roadscape shot from a car window. The photographer took something that all of us have done, which is point a movie camera out a car window, edited it to 10 seconds and labeled it a "landscape painting." Easy, right? Sure, but suddenly the mundane has taken on another aspect and we can think, "Yeah, an everyday occurrence does have some beauty to it.

I don't know, this didn't come out as clear as I had it in my head.

Posted by: the patriarch on October 4, 2006 6:54 PM



Art, before the modernists set out to 'epater les bourgeoisie', was at least in the realm of Beauty (as opposed to the realm of Truth, which is the province of philosophy, and the realm of the Good which is, uh, also the realm of philosophy). There are a number of classic problems relating to art such as the problem of subjective vs objective beauty, the problem of the ontological status of the artwork, the problem of the creator's intention and whether it is relevant and so on.

My specialty is music which moves the question a bit. The denial of the status of 'music' is rare and confined to bizarre examples like Cage's 4'33'' or perhaps your "sound-effects art", though I notice that you don't call it 'music'.

Y'know, this shouldn't be that tricky. An artwork may result when someone makes an attempt to create one. It doesn't always happen, as all artists know (and the interesting thing that occurs to me is what about the status of those works rejected by the artist themselves, or do they no longer admit to failures?) and when it does happen it may be for obscure reasons. But it is up to the viewer/listener after the fact to make some judgements. And the more these judgements are based on valid experience and understanding, the more true they will be.

Oh, and your commenter's syllogism is not a syllogism. A syllogism has three parts: "This is an artist. This is an work he/she produced. Therefore, this is an artwork." Hey, just an example of a syllogism, not an example of truth!

Every viewer decides, makes judgements, about the artwork. How true those judgements are depends on their skills at judging artworks of this type. And for long periods of time most people can be quite mistaken.

Any help?

Bryan

Posted by: Bryan on October 4, 2006 7:08 PM



The whole issue can be made a lot more clear by substituting the adverb "artful" rather than using the noun "art". You see, the word "artful" still retains some of the original meaning of the term art before craftsmanship was destroyed by the modernists. Artful is always used in relation to something else, i.e. less successful work.

Simply put, art is only the best of all the available work to be looked at. Because the best is artfully done, and by that I mean it shows great craftsmanship, is emotionally moving, and can speak universally to mankind. I like Joyce's definition-harmony, clarity, and radiance.

Artful work cannot exist on its own. It only exists as the best in in relation to other work. The modernists ruined the word by calling anything and everything art as a form of marketing ploy to sell to the monied unsophisticates. And they succeded. Now we have some sort of great confusion as to what is "art" and what is not, because of bunch of rich dolts spent money on it.. Debates in the past may have varied as to whether one work or not was great, but all would argue using the same criteria. Not no more!

Also, many are cowards when talking to people who produce rather ugly or useless and dull objects. They are too cowardly to laugh at the work, which is what it deserves most often. It might hurt the producers poor sensitive feelings. I would say that poor sensitive weaklings who can't be bothered to learn craftsmanship and give their best to their audiences are worthy of derision.

I really get a kick out of the people who like to say that it is up to the individual to determine what is art and what is not. As if your average viewer had any type of real education to do the job! I'm sure to a teeny bopper Britney Spears and the minstrel Kanye West are great artists. Does that mean its true? Of course not! Or the many middle americans so thoroughly ignorant about paintings that they consider Thomas Kinkade a great artist and painter. What is great must be arrived at from oa variety of quarters-the academics, the painters themselves, informed specialists, and the general population. Also the test of time to rule out fashion. The almighty individual is none of these. You might say that you disagree, that you think great "art" should be democratic. Let's say I agree. Too bad for you that in a democracy, a proposition is put up to a vote and that the majority wins and the minority loses. The final decision applies to all individuals too. No variances. No, what you like is ANARCHY. Sorry, most of us don't like to live in cultural, political, social, and moral vacuums. But I guess you are free to your own flawed, anarchic opinion. None of us other anarchists give a shit what you think anyway. Only our opinion matters. How wonderful that our culture should die with each incdividual anarchist! What a ridiculous idea! What a bunch of clowns!

If you like to look at things because they are weird, clever, novel, humorous, or creative, join the crowd. But very few of these things are very artfully done. Call them something other than "art", with words that are more specific to the endeavor, like paintings, songs, jokes, books, stories, photographs, installation pieces, sound installation pieces, and/or whatnot. Please don't confuse them with an El Greco, a Beethoven's Ninth, or Shakespeare, for example. And for God's sake, don't confuse yourselves!

Posted by: btm on October 4, 2006 10:28 PM



Art is the imitation of nature according to the formal requirements of a medium. This isn't something decided, it's something discovered. The question only seems difficult because artists are colossally stupid people, and they wouldn't recognize logical rigor if it crawled up their ass and had kittens.

Posted by: Brian on October 5, 2006 5:10 AM



Oh, and your commenter's syllogism is not a syllogism. A syllogism has three parts: "This is an artist. This is an work he/she produced. Therefore, this is an artwork."

It's an enthymeme, which Aristotle defined as a syllogism with an unstated term, primarily used in rhetoric.


Posted by: nathaniel on October 5, 2006 9:18 AM



"Letting the market decide" is just fine, but it certainly won't get rid of "experts." Branding is a very important way the "market sorts things out", particularly for some people---see "Coach" bags, for example---and there are always the insecure and label-conscious who want someone to tell them what to like, what's "expensive" and therefore "valuable" (to them), which means they still need the New York Times or the Art Eestablishment to tell them which paintings to buy or books to read. Hence, the self-appointed opinion-makers. They are part of the "market."

Posted by: annette on October 5, 2006 10:53 AM



There is a great book that I recently finished reading about just this topic. It is called "The Necessity of Artspeak:The Language of the Arts in the Western Tradition" by Roy Harris. Despite its convoluted sounding name, the book is actually refreshingly easy and quick to read and not mired in post-whatever-hyper-meta-bibble-babble. Harris looks at the history of the way the word "art" and its brethren have been used over the course of time and how this has changed in regard to the changes in the theoretical/critical side for the art world from a linguistic perspective.

It is too long and detailed to fully summarize quickly here, but the book clarifies a lot of the tricky rhetorical methods that Modernist-affiliated criticism used to change the terms of the debate about what art is and what qualifies as good art. (As well as covering pre-Modern art criticism/theory.) As a gloss summary, Harris contends that the "art world" has literally talked itself into the corner and undermined its own authority in doing so in the past century. He sees this all entering a stage of collapse where "art" as a meaningful term becomes defunct and is superseded by the larger and more multifaceted entertainment arena. Convoluted art-speak ends up becoming pseudo-meaningful to the small group of people who are professionally involved in arts institutions, ie museums, galleries, publications and use it to rationalize/prop up their precarious positions in the market place.

I'd highly recommend this book is this is a topic that interests you. It's a great bit of history and obfuscation busting.

Posted by: Kyle on October 5, 2006 2:35 PM



Brian, that was funny :) I don't think artists are stupid, but then I don't know too many artists and when I do meet one, I think: wow, another person who smartly avoided school. So, not dumb, IMHO.

Personally, I like the arguing over what is good art better than what is art. That's my favorite argument. And the arguers I like best are like that character in that novel, Lucky Jim, who looks around and hates everything. I love cranks like that. Cheers me right up. By the way, was there ever a better send up of academic pretentiousness than that novel?

Posted by: MD on October 5, 2006 6:28 PM



Oh, and don't even get me started on the whole creeping credentialism epidemic. It is wreaking havoc with my profession! It's a profession, professionals, so more professionalism and less credentialism, please.

Posted by: MD on October 5, 2006 6:36 PM



Okay, I meant smartly avoided med school. I really do need those reading glasses. Sigh.

Posted by: MD on October 5, 2006 8:46 PM



As the poster of the comment regarding "another salvo in a regular 2 blowhards series that follows the syllogism: "I do not consider this to be art, therefore it should not be considered art." I thought I should weigh in.

First, the linguistic and grammatical niceties:

"Oh, and your commenter's syllogism is not a syllogism. A syllogism has three parts: "This is an artist. This is a work he/she produced. Therefore, this is an artwork.""

"It's an enthymeme, which Aristotle defined as a syllogism with an unstated term, primarily used in rhetoric."

The unstated first term in my syllogistic logic set is, "This is presented as art."

The primary issue remains; how do we define something as "art"?

Brian offers the definition; "Art is the imitation of nature according to the formal requirements of a medium." Would that definition be accurate for the works of Beethoven, or most music for that matter? I can think of countless other examples of art that would fail to meet such a specific definition. From the anti-modernist POV dominant on 2blowhards it would, however, seem to have the advantage of eliminating virtually all "abstract" art as the term is used today.

btm offers some oddly problematic bits and pieces. Whenever one begins tossing around terms like "the best is artfully done ... shows great craftsmanship, is emotionally moving, and can speak universally to mankind ... " followed by "the modernists ruined the word by calling anything and everything art as a form of marketing ploy to sell to the monied unsophisticates ... " we wind our way down that syllogistic (enthymematic?) pathway I offered previously.

Eventually we arrive at the wonderful world of the modifying adjective. Are we looking at fine art or commercial art? Is it modernist or classical? Is it realism or abstraction? To take the position that if you don't like it, it isn't valid makes no sense. To pick a set of criteria that describes the art you like and then apply that to everything offered as art is simply another way of reaching the same point of using only your own taste as the determining factor.

My own view continues along the line accepting that whatever is offered as art can then be judged as art. That judgment in turn requires some understanding of and engagement with the intent and goals of the artist and the inherent nature of the work in question. In this I find agreement with Michael Blowhard's notion is that it is fine to allow an object to be categorized as art without arguing the point, then we're free to judge it to be bad art.

In the end it is a complex mixture of artists themselves, informed critics writing about art, what is taught in art schools, what gets collected and shown by museums and galleries, the art market, et cetera ad infinitum that produces a consensus of what is and isn't art and which art is better or worse. It often requires a long time to create anything like a "universal" view regarding a given artist or art movement and is increasingly less accurate the newer the art in question. This is further complicated by the issue of whether we're looking for consensus in a homogeneous vs. a multicultural society.

Guess that's enough for now.

Posted by: Chris White on October 5, 2006 8:56 PM



Mr. White,

I noticed you left the general public off your list. They never bought into modernism because the work is ugly and unappealing. That's what distinguishes elitists-ignoring the will of the people, a good number of whom are quite well educated and are excellent arbiters of quality and taste. I think their opinions should go into the mix too.

Also, you got stuck on the idea that no one person determines what is art and what is not art. Then you follow it up by saying that whatever is offered up as art (so-called by the artist) should be considered such. Which is it?

I think its all a lot less complex than it is made out to be. A beautiful Vermeer seems to appeal on an emotional level to an awful lot of people. No complication there at all. I think the elitists like to complex-ify the situation so they can push the ugly and unappealing stuff. It separates their tastes from those of the masses and makes them feel special, elite, and "inside". I'd rather be a part of the main than an island unto myself. Personal preference, I guess.

Kyle,

Thanks for the recommendation. I'll have to check it out. I was in a bookstore tonight and now when I'm in the Art section I look at modern "art" books too, just to make sure I know what I am talking about. I picked up a Richard Diebenkorn(?) book and paged through. Thoroughly ugly, dull, nasty stuff. Yes, what a "genius", what a "master"! What a joke, was what I was thinking!

P.S., there are several great web museums to see good work at. One of my favorites is www.artrenewal.org. Enjoy!

Posted by: btm on October 5, 2006 11:30 PM



The blog format is clumsy for such a huge topic as "what is art?" In the interest of simplification I've used only paintings and painters as examples, although the general points can easily cover music or theater or dance and so on.

To answer some of btm's points:

Let's see, my list ends "et cetera ad infinitum" indicating that it is an incomplete list due to its expansive nature. I do not leave "the general public" off the list. As one who has dealt with "the general public" in different art contexts for nearly four decades I can say that no single aesthetic unites "the general public" ... just as there is no unified view of art among those in "The Art World." I've met plenty of laborers with a high school education, heck, I've known middle school students who love "modernist" abstraction and post graduate degree holding conservative aesthetes who (like many in this forum, seemingly) would be delighted if nearly everything created since 1880 were destroyed in a massive bonfire set in the middle of the Museum of Modern Art. And visa versa.

A careful reading of my comments shows that in one place I'm talking about a long historic view and in another the immediate present. We can accept (immediately) a brand new object presented as art as art. Said object (and/or its creator) then enters the fray and gets judged, shown (or not), lauded or ridiculed and ... eventually ... over decades and even centuries ... a more "universal" consensus is achieved about what is (or isn't) worthy of the label "ART." And about what art is deemed great or dismissed as crap. Hence we have a pretty good consensus about a beautiful Vermeer, it is well appreciated by many, both learned art professionals and just plain folks. Consensus begins to fall apart somewhere around Gauguin and severely breaks up somewhere between Picasso and Pollock.

In general it has always seemed to me that the underlying antipathy toward "modernist" art is that the craft and technical aspects employed are not as obvious and overt as they are in tightly rendered realism. Almost anyone can look at a Vermeer and marvel at the technical facilities of the painter who so accurately renders the texture of cloth or the gleam of the glass. The issues, both aesthetically and technically, that concerned Pollock were very different. If one were to judge a Vermeer by exactly the same criteria one might apply to Pollock, the Vermeer would come off lacking. To judge a Pollock by the standards applied to Vermeer has the same results.

Back to you.

Posted by: Chris White on October 6, 2006 9:41 AM



Yes, Donald, I know, "we are all the experts" cry is all the mode on this site, but consider this opposite extreme, which I can illustrate by copying a comment on this thread at Apartment Therapy:

"know an office designer who charged a five-figure sum to design a law office the walls of which were these colors.

Posted by purejuice at 10/05/06 3:48 PM "

Let me tell you: members of the public like *purejuice above are the worst clients: know-it-all ignoramuses without taste, intuition or basic understanding of design principles. Those are the sort of people known to utter infamous "my 5 year old could draw better", standing in front of Miro. What bothers them the most is the fee designer/artist sells his services/product for. They are insecure to the core, and suspect being cheated all the time.

Posted by: Tat on October 6, 2006 10:18 AM



Mr. White,

You once again misrepresent my opinions. I said Vermeer is emotionally moving. Not just technically competent. Pollack is neither. Again you take the elitist tone "almost ANYONE can look at a Vermeer and marvel" (this is almost too easy!). You ended your long list without mentioning the general public too. Again you offer a dodge. I say the general public's view (much like a vote and overwhelmingly in favor of objective work), then you give isolated examples of a few who like modernism. I say great work has things in common, then you try to break it up into categories in order to put the modernist junk in the same class, and shield it from criticism. You are a typical modern art proponent-you are a master of atomization, to the point completely destroying any kind of collective culture. You deny the general public's views by dismissing them, then atomizing them until you find an adherent. You indeed seem to be exactly what I described earlier-an anarchist. An anarchist-elitist! What the ...? Make up your mind!

"In one place I am talking about a long historic view and in another the immediate present"-see my comment above!

You should remember one of the few things the great fraud Picasso said which was true-"All great art lives in the present."

You can't have it both ways. If everybody gets to determine what is great art and what is not, you as an expert elitist are irrelevant. I don't even understand why you would have anything to say on the topic at all. Many who have posted here seem to like that idea. Then in other posts they make movie lists of the "greatest" films, whatever that means!. Either there is an objective body of standards, or there isn't. You are simply arguing for the destruction of any common culture, period. No wonder the West is dying-everybody is too important to save it. In a vacuum, those who organize and promote a collective culture will be far more powerful than the atomized. Helllllooooo Islam! Se habla Espanol? It is such a good thing that the cultural world is buried with the anarchist, eh?

Posted by: btm on October 6, 2006 11:23 PM



Once more into the fray, btm:

It is so difficult to know where and how to respond when the argument seems to shift about and whatever points made become nits to be picked.

"Vermeer is emotionally moving. Not just technically competent. Pollack is neither."

Well, there's a pair of totally subjective statements. Many people find Vermeer emotionally cold, if intellectually compelling. For many people Jackson Pollock (can we at least spell his name correctly if we're going to use him as a scapegoat for nasty modernists?) is both emotionally moving and understood as technically competent. More than competent he's seen as an important theoretic and technical innovator. Like many innovators he learned the "rules" of his craft (he studied with Thomas Hart Benton) before he began to expand and bend those rules. Without innovation painters five hundred years ago would not have developed three-point perspective.

"I say great work has things in common ... (from your original comment) it shows great craftsmanship, is emotionally moving, and can speak universally to mankind. I like Joyce's definition-harmony, clarity, and radiance."

While we all might reflexively sign on to such a definition that term "universally" makes it more than a little problematic. And your last paragraph with linked comments like "No wonder the West is dying ..." and "Helllllooooo Islam! Se habla Espanol?" would seem to indicate that when you say "universally to mankind" you really mean "to (northern) Europeans and their descendants."

In your posting of October 4 you denigrate the "general public" as being uneducated, ignorant and incapable of making valid aesthetic decisions. You skewer, along Brittany Spears and Kanye West, the darling of middlebrow art lovers, Thomas Kincaid. You posit that great art should be determined by " the academics, the painters themselves, informed specialists, and the general population [over] the test of time."

Now, how exactly is that substantially different from my "mixture of artists themselves, informed critics writing about art, what is taught in art schools, what gets collected and shown by museums and galleries, the art market, et cetera ad infinitum that produces a consensus ... "?

Gee, maybe the next time we do this we can shift to music. What do you guys make of the "Steve Reich @ 70" celebrations among major concert halls in NYC and around the world? I wish I had tickets to attend a dozen of the shows!

Posted by: Chris White on October 7, 2006 9:30 AM



Mr. White,

Last post. I said that yes lots of average people are ignorant about art. I believe you are grossly ignorant about it too, and you consider yourself an expert! Thats why I said it should be a consensus among many, yet not excluding the general public. I think they are a great corrective to the modernist twats. That's why you want to leave them out-they don't agree with you! I'll let everbody in, even you. But you don't want to be outvoted, so you exclude! You have to, or you lose! Oddly enough, though, you won't exclude such pedestrian junk so-called "artists" like Pollack. For the so-called "artists", even the dreck of the earth, all viewpoints are valid. But not of the average man, no! Which is it?

So what, I misspelled a word? Better than walking through life with a blindfold over my eyes. I guess you'll grab at anything to look superior-you know, elititst!

Pollack is a joke. Only you don't get it! Pollack on the same level as Vermeer! Hahahahahahaha! Cold? Really? Look at his "Girl with a Pearl Earring". Its only one of the best/most famous portraits of all time. Technical skill is cold. Oh yes! But goofs who hurl paint randowmly at a canvas, or who paint a couple of colored squares, are filled with human warmth and emotion! How clownish that idea is! I continue to argue for a general consensus, and all you offer is some rationalization for subjectivity. You and all the rest of the intellectual wannabes has fallen hook, line, and sinker for the modern advertising techniques that are used to push worthless junk to well-monied fools. You think it makes you look smart. Well, actually, it makes you look a rube!

You atomize, you destroy, and say that you are open! Yes, tearing something down does open things up, does it not? Opens it up for the anarchist! Who then claims superiority! Bah, why argue with a fool?

I may have misspelled a word, but at least I can argue a point. All you do when you "answer" someone who disagrees with you is repackage the same goop all over again and say the same thing, like you are in a trance! I pointed out very deftly that we can have a common culture if we come together and agree on certain things, set some criteria and reach a general consensus. In terms of art, technical excellence is one of the criteria. I don't care what art form. It also must convey emotion. Art is about emotional experience! And it must be able to be read AND felt by the observer. Modern art is the most emotionally barren worthless crap ever created, and the greatest monument to cultural foolishness that can be passed off as seriousness that I can think of. What is art goes beyond just excellence. That means it is exclusionary. There is good work and bad work. And then there is some work so good that it should be regarded as the highest form of its kind. That is art. Not the best of this or that category. But the best of all. Being some sort of elitist, you should agree with that. But you can't because you have given your life over to rationalizing, selling, and promoting dreck, no matter if its earnest or not. Yuck. What a waste!

No one is making an argument that you can't enjoy what you will. But passing off personal preferences as the ultimate criterion leaves out something very important-everbody else! And like language, if we have not solid meanings, no set refernce points, we cannot communicate. We cannot even communicate our culture to others! Not even to each other, or our kids! You argue for the end of a common culture! And you can't even see it. But if there is a common culture, there is a debate. And because we have a common culture, somebody is right and somebody is wrong. You just can't stand losing, and neither can the worthless junk-makers, or the rich dolts who were swindled.

Also, don't try your "racist" bullshit on me! What, you can't win an argument, so you call someone a racist? I like many things of a non-western nature! You are really the lowest! You will do ANYTHING to look superior! Then it makes you look inferior! I see through your pseudo-intellectual arguments, so you slur! You are pathetic! Good riddance!

Posted by: btm on October 7, 2006 10:48 PM



btm-

As I understand it the topic of the thread is who should be able to label something as being art or, conversely, deny that something is art. My position remains unchanged ... I will accept whatever is offered as art as being art then judge it as such. Over time, as a wide range of opinions accumulate, a consensus develops regarding what is great art and what is failed art. I've seen no arguments posted here to make me question that position.

- "it should be a consensus among many, yet not excluding the general public."

I never left out the general public, merely attempted to point out that there is no universal aesthetic shared by everyone and that the newer the art, the less likely it is there is yet any clear consensus about it.

- "So what, I misspelled a word? ... Pollack is a joke."

Persistently misspelling Pollock's name (converting it to an insulting term for someone from Poland) along with characterizing his work as that of a "goof who hurl[s] paint randomly at a canvas" seems to indicate that you don't actually know much about Pollock, just that you don't like his work. However, many people 'get' Pollock's work and have learned at least something about his training, technical approach and aesthetic. You can call them "elitists" if you like, but I know plenty of "just folks" who like and appreciate Pollock. In another hundred and fifty years he may be a footnote or highly revered but I'm far from alone in saying his paintings are definitely ART.

- "I pointed out very deftly that we can have a common culture if we come together and agree on certain things, set some criteria and reach a general consensus."

Our current aesthetic divergence and debate would indicate that such clear and unambiguous agreements, especially in our heterogeneous, globalized, society is something of an unattainable Utopian ideal.

- "In terms of art, technical excellence is one of the criteria."

On this we can agree. Where our disagreement lies is in determining what constitutes "technical excellence." If, when judging paintings, one defines "technical excellence" narrowly and as primarily revealed by depicting the natural world in a tightly rendered realistic way, then we have a problem. Many, both within and outside the "art world" understand there are numerous other attributes to consider when determining whether an artist's work shows "technical excellence."

- "You indeed seem to be exactly what I described earlier-an anarchist. An anarchist-elitist! ... I believe you are grossly ignorant about [art] ... and you consider yourself an expert! .... you and all the rest of the intellectual wannabes has fallen hook, line, and sinker for the modern advertising techniques that are used to push worthless junk to well-monied fools. You think it makes you look smart. Well, actually, it makes you look a rube! ... You atomize, you destroy, and say that you are open! ... you have given your life over to rationalizing, selling, and promoting dreck, no matter if its earnest or not."

I've made very few suppositions about you and recognize they are merely suppositions and might be dramatically wrong. You continue to make categorical statements that are both personally insulting and often incorrect.

- "Also, don't try your "racist" bullshit on me! What, you can't win an argument, so you call someone a racist?"

I did NOT call you a racist. I presume you are referring to the place where I note, based on your comment "Helllllooooo Islam! Se habla Espanol?" that you are defining what you mean by "common culture" to the Western (primarily northern European) cultural canon. If this is an error on my part, then what did you mean?

It would appear, unless some other voices chime in, that we've reached a point where we should agree to disagree and move on.

Posted by: Chris White on October 8, 2006 10:56 AM






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