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“What is Art?”
That’s a big question and not one that we can answer easily. Everyone you ask will, or should, have a different answer.
Art doesn’t have a single defining element. It can be a painting, a sculpture, a definable something that you can see and experience or art can be something that’s a little less tangible. There are no real parameters, or are there?
To answer this question, let’s look at how art is defined. According to the Oxford Dictionaries, the primary definition of art is “the expression or application of human creativity and imagination, usually in a visual form such as a painting or sculpture, creating works to be appreciated mainly for their beauty or emotional power.”
With this in mind, it gives us something of a springboard into understanding the different kinds of art that we experience. How often have we heard the phrases, “A five-year-old could do that,” “It doesn’t look like anything,” or “They’ve just got too much time on their hands?” More often than not, these are comments from those who don’t have a frame of reference for other art styles.
All art forms are subject to personal taste when it comes to what we like and what we don’t like. However, this personal preference depends primarily on understanding, attraction or revulsion. This is part of the experience of ‘enjoying’ art. The problem is that we are almost hard-wired to give credence to something that appeals to us, rejecting other things that do not. This governs our perception of what is art.
The wonderful thing about art, whether you love it or hate it, it is still sparking a response. Works of art do have a message, whether it’s emotional, intellectual, political or even corporate. The message is there. Our personal reaction to it is another level of interaction with the piece. Artworks on many different levels, based on the artist and his or her interaction with the viewer.
If you want to measure the ‘success’ of a piece of artwork, it would be how it inspires feelings or a connection with whoever experiences it. Does this mean there can be no good art or bad art? How do you define which is which, if you do at all? This is the hardest question, that is possibly best left for critics to debate in circles.
For the rest of us, the rules are simple. There are no right or wrong answers. To find a connection with one piece of art is a powerful thing, and that should be our gauge of what is the right art for us.