Wednesday, January 1, 2020

What is Art, Really?

What is Art, Really?
Great Art is not about materials or techniques. It is not about color or size. Surprisingly, it is not about the signature or provenance. Great Art is about the emotion created when you view it. One of my personal favorite Artists said: “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” Edgar Degas defined it simply. This classification applies to all genres and mediums.

Image result for degas_petits_rats.jpg

Many years ago, a fellow Artist combined 'found objects' into a single form and painted the whole thing white. I know what you are thinking. It was not bland or boring. The finished object was magical in the feelings it evoked in the people who saw it. Some were moved by its peaceful presentation, others by the power of the assembly and curious juxtapositions. Public appeal was strong and this Art sold for serious money.

I was in a gallery in Houston, TX in 1983. Standing in front of a large portrait in oil. The style was photo-realism. I was amazed at the lack of brush strokes and the fine details accomplished by the Artist. Others were also impressed with the technique. Conversations all seemed to focus on the method of creation. No person that I heard commented on the Artistic value of the work. Yes, it was very impressive and the mind made itself known, but it did not evoke an emotion. We were left cold, impressed, but emotionless. Was this really Great Art?

How does an Artist create an emotional reaction to their Art? I will be discussing this in a continuing series of blog posts. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

What is Art, Really: Part 2

What is Art? Let's first consider the act of an attractive woman either removing or putting on stockings. If she does it slowly and deliberately, it will evoke emotions in anyone viewing the act. Our minds store a series of still images of this act like a movie. The mind will play it back on demand. Each still image evokes an emotion. They may or may not be the same for each. The whole movie may evoke an even stronger emotion. The challenge for the Visual Artist is to create a single image that captures all these emotions at once. If successful, the Artist's creation stirs all the collected emotions in the viewer. Now we have a piece of Art!

What did we just do? The Artist witnessed an event! Now the Artist will take his mental interpretation of that event and apply the principles of design and assemble the physical materials to make the attempt to capture that event in am image of his own creation. A lot of words meaning that the Artist takes pencil/brush in hand and pours his impression onto the paper/canvas. If the Artist is concerned with the physical tools and techniques, the emotion is degraded. The work may be beautiful for lacking that something extra.
There are three parts of this exercise:
  • What the Artist wants to portray.
  • What the Artist actually portrayed
  • What the Work evokes in the Viewers.
In between the first and second parts, the Artist is influenced by his own history and attitude. The influence may be from religion, parental strictures, his last meal, or any other contributor to his state of mind and emotion. All of these things and a few others will have a say in the third part.
So, what is Art? Art is a creation that evokes a response in those that experience it. The same woman crawling into a pair of tights/pantyhose will, generally, not evoke the same emotion as she did putting on the stockings. One woman applying her eye makeup will evoke different responses as another doing exactly the same task.
My final advice is for each of us to pay attention to our own world. Pay attention to how you feel about what you are seeing, hearing, and touching. How does it inspire you. If the answer is in the positive range, imagine how you would portray that feeling. Now go make some Art!