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  1. #181
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    Surely art does not have tp representative although that is one large subset. Abstract art can inspire too. As can simple Mondrian style shapes or Brophy lines, or Jackson Pollock.
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    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
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  2. #182
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    So if skill and craft are what's required, what do we make of Rauschenberg's Erased de Kooning Drawing?
    That it's not a work of art?

    Is a pile of ashes from a burned copy of Fahrenheit 451 a piece of literature if someone says so?
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  3. #183
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkepticJ View Post
    That it's not a work of art?
    Again, it's subjective.

    It's not like there's a such thing as "real" art - that gets a sticker to identify it as-such.

    Quote Originally Posted by SkepticJ View Post
    Is a pile of ashes from a burned copy of Fahrenheit 451 a piece of literature if someone says so?
    It being subjective, they speak for themselves only. But yes.


    I've encountered this odd rationale before. Some people feel that the sum total (or at least the loudest fraction) of public opinion somehow decrees how things "really" are.

    "Is it art?" is a question that only asked by people looking for someone to tell them what to think. (no offense intended, Skeptic).

    It is not a valid question.
    The only correct question is: does it evoke something in me?
    Last edited by DaveC426913; 2018-Sep-29 at 03:40 AM.

  4. #184
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkepticJ View Post
    ...

    'The only thing that I've seen people rail against is non-representational art that takes no skill, no craft to create.
    Thanks for reminding me of something.

    Back when I was a teenager, I was reluctant to admit that I appreciated some modern art projects that were quire abstract. Sometimes the selection of shapes and colors could evoke feelings, and I found that interesting. Okay, I might even like one of those hanging on a wall of mine.


    However, I happened to watch some news program that showed someone they identified as an artist grabbing capsules of paint at random and firing them with some sort of gun at a canvas. Once the area was completely covered, he was finished. The commentator told us that this piece of work would command several hundred dollars at an auction.

    Well, several hundred was a lot of money in the 1960s, and I couldn’t help thinking “Why?” I mean, I could do that, for gosh sakes! You want to call this guy an artist, good for you, but I wouldn’t give him more than the cost of the paint and the canvas – if indeed I liked the way it turned out.

    This idea was frequently exploited in simple-mined comedy -- some slob tosses together some garbage, and a critic sees it and thinks it's just great. Don't know how many times I've seen that plot.

    Maybe genuine modern artists should have stood guys like this up against a wall with a blindfold and a cigarette and ceremoniously fired paint guns at him.

  5. #185
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonM435 View Post
    and I couldn’t help thinking “Why?” I mean, I could do that, for gosh sakes!
    But you DIDN'T, which is a point some of us have been trying to make. What some people seem to miss, almost to the point of deliberateness, is context. Sure, there is some pretentiousness out there - and even some things bordering on fraud. And putting prices on art is often controversial, no matter who is doing what.

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  6. #186
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkepticJ View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison
    So if skill and craft are what's required, what do we make of Rauschenberg's Erased de Kooning Drawing?
    That it's not a work of art?
    And yet de Kooning applied skill and craft in its production, knowing that the evidence of that skill and craft would be largely erased - he put a lot of effort into it. Are you just going to dismiss that?

    Quote Originally Posted by SkepticJ View Post
    Is a pile of ashes from a burned copy of Fahrenheit 451 a piece of literature if someone says so?
    Of course, burning books in an effort to make them not-literature has a long history, and it never works.
    As art, it's been done so often it would be considered pretty derivative, I think.

    My Rauschenberg example was intended as an example of the blurred boundaries of skill and craft as a way of defining "art".
    Here's another:

    I recently spent some time in the company of Rainer Wölzl Hedge. It's a skillful drawing of a rather sinister looking hedge. So much for skill.
    But to properly appreciate the work, you need to know which hedge it depicts - the hedge that concealed one of the crematoria in Auschwitz.
    At which point you realize the work is a reflection on the whole debate about whether it is possible to properly depict the Holocaust in art, or desirable to try.
    I had to sit down to think about that.
    So the artist's undoubted skill in depicting a tangled wooden fence and hedge has almost nothing to do with the concept that his art wants to convey.

    Grant Hutchison
    Last edited by grant hutchison; 2018-Sep-29 at 04:57 PM. Reason: a missing -ing
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  7. #187
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    Knowing, anticipating, sometimes even using the reaction that a work of art (in its totality, including context) will evoke, how it is received, is a skill in itself. To ignore that context, when it is so obvious that to the artist that context is important to the work, to look only at the work itself without any other consideration, it's like looking at the Night Watch with a blindfold on and then loudly proclaiming that it ain't all that much, and ones nephew's painting looked exactly the same, honestly, with exactly the same blindfold.
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  8. #188
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkepticJ View Post
    That it's not a work of art?

    Is a pile of ashes from a burned copy of Fahrenheit 451 a piece of literature if someone says so?
    Literature, by definition, needs words.

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  9. #189
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    So if skill and craft are what's required, what do we make of Rauschenberg's Erased de Kooning Drawing?
    Willem de Kooning gave Rauschenberg a drawing, knowing that Rauschenberg would erase and frame it. Was skill and craft involved in its production? If so, is that skill and craft at all relevant to the final work? Would it make any difference if Rauschenberg had erased one of his own drawings? What if de Kooning had made erasure easier, by using pencil instead of ink and charcoal?

    Grant Hutchison
    Well, apparently art is in the eye of the beholder. In the eye of this beholder, I make nothing of it. Even if someone tries to explain it to me...https://youtu.be/Ze5GoJ0VFrg

  10. #190
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    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    Well, apparently art is in the eye of the beholder. In the eye of this beholder, I make nothing of it. Even if someone tries to explain it to me...https://youtu.be/Ze5GoJ0VFrg
    So that's OK, isn't it?
    What I don't understand is how "I make nothing of it" translates for some people into either "it's bad art" or "it's not art".

    I can't make anything of cricket or Dr Who, but I don't dismiss them as "not sport" or "bad TV". I can't see the appeal of modern jazz, but if someone tells me that they like it, I don't suggest to them that they're joking or deluded.

    But for some reason, modern art seems to be considered fair game for all sorts of dismissive attitudes. It's a puzzle.

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  11. #191
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    OK, what I take away from this discussion, is that what is art and what is good art is defined by each individual. Each personal opinion is valid. Often there will be no agreement.

  12. #192
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    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    OK, what I take away from this discussion, is that what is art and what is good art is defined by each individual. Each personal opinion is valid. Often there will be no agreement.
    I'd also add that trying to define art, especially by reference to the perceived level of skill involved, is a really bad idea. "It takes no skill" (or sometimes, charitably, "less skill") is similar to what was said about the American garage rock and follow on Punk genres. Imagine a world without Punk, Grunge, Indie or any of the other sounds inspired by these movements.

    And going a bit further "It takes no skill" was definitely applied to the even more experimental bands (think early Melt-Banana). But they enriched and changed the musical soundscape by pushing at the edges of it.

  13. #193
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    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    OK, what I take away from this discussion, is that what is art and what is good art is defined by each individual. Each personal opinion is valid. Often there will be no agreement.
    I don't think it's up to anyone except the artist to pronounce on what is or is not art. And I think while anyone can make a statement about whether something is good art or bad art, some opinions will carry more weight than others, since an understanding of context and intention are often important, so pronouncements in the absence of homework are unlikely to be taken seriously by those who have done their homework. It seems to me to be better to avoid categorical statements in one's relationships with art - rather than dividing things into art / not art or bad art / good art, I prefer to say what I like and don't like about a piece, and what emotions or thoughts I experience.

    It's a bit like jokes. If someone says something they intend as a joke, then it's a joke - there's no point in telling them otherwise. And we can't really tell if it's a good joke or a bad joke unless we at least know a little of what the joke's about, the context in which it was made, and the intention of the joker. But we can always say whether we get the joke or not, whether we find it offensive or not, whether it makes us laugh, whether it makes us see something differently, and so on. Sometimes we can come back to a joke after many years, understanding more of its context, and find our attitude to it has completely changed.

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  14. #194
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    I don't think it's up to anyone except the artist to pronounce on what is or is not art. And I think while anyone can make a statement about whether something is good art or bad art, some opinions will carry more weight than others, since an understanding of context and intention are often important, so pronouncements in the absence of homework are unlikely to be taken seriously by those who have done their homework. It seems to me to be better to avoid categorical statements in one's relationships with art - rather than dividing things into art / not art or bad art / good art, I prefer to say what I like and don't like about a piece, and what emotions or thoughts I experience.


    Grant Hutchison
    In that case, let’s back up a bit: who determines who is an artist? Are you saying anyone can self proclaim his-/herself an artist?

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    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    Are you saying anyone can self proclaim his-/herself an artist?
    I will certainly stand behind that.

    Yes, you can scribble on a piece of paper and declare you are an artist.
    Note that, likewise, anyone can proclaim themselves a student of Taoism after simply reading a short book on Taoism.
    I can declare myself a jogger just as easily.

    Declaring oneself as something holds no weight. It's meaningless. There are no membership cards for these things.

    The deed is in the doing.


    I suspect you are conferring more power on the terms "art" and "artist" than they warrant.
    Last edited by DaveC426913; 2018-Sep-30 at 04:55 PM.

  16. #196
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    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    In that case, let’s back up a bit: who determines who is an artist? Are you saying anyone can self proclaim his-/herself an artist?
    Sure. How else would it work? There's no central authority to declare who is and is not an artist, any more than there's a central authority to declare what is and is not art.
    If you produce something you believe to be art, then you're an artist. You may produce work that no-one likes and which is universally dismissed by critics, but that doesn't mean you're not an artist - just that your art is catastrophically unpopular.
    Same applies to authors. And god knows it applies to dancers.

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  17. 2018-Sep-30, 06:27 PM

  18. #197
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    Please define “art”; maybe it is a semantical misunderstanding....

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    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    Please define “art”; maybe it is a semantical misunderstanding....
    Art is whatever its creator cares to designate as art. If the creator calls it art, it's art, and the creator is an artist. We have to fall back to that definitional level, because (as I've said) there is no authority, academy, qualification or test that separates art from non-art, any more than there's a definitive way to distinguish between literature and non-literature, or between dancing and cavorting.
    While some people would love to be able to give the status of "Law of Nature" to declarations of the form "That's not music, that's just noise", it just has never worked out like that.

    Grant Hutchison

    ETA: At a deeper level, I suppose, art has to be an attempt by the artist to communicate - thoughts, ideas, emotions. But once they have announced this attempt to communicate, we judge on the basis of the effectiveness of the communication - we can't tell the creator that they are simply mistaken, and that they are not attempting to communicate at all. Only the creator can judge their own intent.
    Last edited by grant hutchison; 2018-Sep-30 at 07:41 PM.
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  20. #199
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Art is whatever its creator cares to designate as art. If the creator calls it art, it's art, and the creator is an artist. We have to fall back to that definitional level, because (as I've said) there is no authority, academy, qualification or test that separates art from non-art, any more than there's a definitive way to distinguish between literature and non-literature, or between dancing and cavorting.
    While some people would love to be able to give the status of "Law of Nature" to declarations of the form "That's not music, that's just noise", it just has never worked out like that.

    Grant Hutchison
    Then the term “art” seems pretty meaningless to me. It encompasses, potentially everything.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    Then the term “art” seems pretty meaningless to me. It encompasses, potentially everything.
    Well, not really. It excludes the entire natural world, in its natural state, for instance - so to a first approximation, everything in the Universe falls outside the definition of art I've offered.

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  22. #201
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Well, not really. It excludes the entire natural world, in its natural state, for instance - so to a first approximation, everything in the Universe falls outside the definition of art I've offered.

    Grant Hutchison
    so anything manipulated by man is potentially art?

  23. #202
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    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    so anything manipulated by man is potentially art?
    Sure. But if I were to call, say, my rewiring of an electrical socket today "art", then it would have to be judged as we judge art - I'd need to exhibit the process in some way, people would wonder about its originality, whether it communicated anything interesting, or was just derivative of Duchamp's urinal. I can't see it winning museum space.
    And of course conceptual art doesn't necessarily manipulate any physical object, except the medium by which the concept is transmitted - the medium itself has no role in the art, in that case. So could I attempt to classify a bald statement of Newton's Laws as art? Sure could, and I have the T-shirt to prove it. But it's art at a homeopathic level.

    So I get to call any old stuff art, but then it gets judged as art. As anyone who has ever undergone that process knows, you don't embark on that lightly. My wife, who occasionally exhibits photographic images, dreads the phrase "an accurate photographic record" from the judges - because it says that the photograph has communicated nothing to the judge apart from, "I was there and I had a camera". As art, it has failed to do its job.

    Grant Hutchison
    Last edited by grant hutchison; 2018-Sep-30 at 08:39 PM.
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  24. #203
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    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    so anything manipulated by man is potentially art?
    I would limit art further to an intent to share an idea in a new way. The operative word being 'intent'.

    Just one example to make my point:

    I like to take photos of rusty junkers and stuff.
    The rusty junkers themselves are not art; they're simply there.
    The art is my depiction of them, ideally to inspire something in my viewers.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMG_3772.jpg 
Views:	4 
Size:	80.4 KB 
ID:	23604


    Frankly, black square has done a demonstrably better job at inspiring people to talk about ideas.
    Last edited by DaveC426913; 2018-Oct-01 at 02:22 AM.

  25. #204
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    So the observer plays no role? Just the creator?

  26. #205
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    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    So the observer plays no role? Just the creator?
    Each observer is a test of whether the intended act of communication is working. That's a hugely significant role.

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  27. #206
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    And the "intended act of communication" is an interesting thing in itself. I can write a piece of music to make people happy. If it makes them happy, it works. If it makes them sad, it doesn't. If they don't feel anything, it doesn't. I can also write the same piece of music to trigger emotion in the audience. If it makes them happy or sad, it works. If they don't feel anything, it doesn't. Or I am adlibing a piece of music just to practice my fingers and chord progressions, then I don't declare it art. People might still get emotional from hearing my practice. In that case they might consider it art even though I didn't create it as such. Whether or not it is art in that case, is an interesting discussion in itself.

    Art starts as the intention of the artist, art works when the audience perceives the intention, however (broad) the artist may have defined that.

    If the intention behind Black Square was to make people reflect on what they consider art or what they're looking for in art, it certainly worked.

  28. #207
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    Well, that makes things simpler from my point of view. If I look at a black square or three empty canvases, they evoke nothing in me. (other than thinking why are they hanging there in the first place.).

  29. #208
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    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    Well, that makes things simpler from my point of view. If I look at a black square or three empty canvases, they evoke nothing in me. (other than thinking why are they hanging there in the first place.).
    Yes, I think we all picked up on that quite early in the thread.

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  30. #209
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    there was an interview with Yuval Noah Harari this morning, BBC, he wrote "Sapiens" and he made an interesting observation. Namely: if Art is about human emotions, then AI should be supremely adept at manipulating us through AI art, since emotional responses can be assesses as data. Contrasting this view is the fact that AI art at present is very derivative, that's kind of obvious, and notably lacks the spark of originality which marks out especially modern art. The place to look is where humans use AI to push a human agenda. I think we see this happening in the many adverts that use cartoon techniques instead of actors. Those cartoons try to evoke emotions that lead to buying decisions but there are other avenues.
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    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    If I look at a black square or three empty canvases, they evoke nothing in me.
    That is demonstrably untrue.

    They evoke uncertainty, leading to curiosity, and a desire to share thoughts about it.

    We are now 200+ posts in to a conversation about where the boundaries of art and artists are, and I know a lot more about your preferences for art than I did before and you know a lot of ours.

    There's no denying that 'Black Square' has inspired in you a desire to learn a little about abstract art, if perhaps only to settle your doubts about it by listening to other opinions.

    I also suspect that, moving forward, the next time you see a piece of abstract art, you will recall parts of this discussion, maybe mull them over, and try them on for size. They may fit, or they may not. You may reject that work, but you won't look at it quite the same way as you did the last one.

    You're not quite the same person you were when you started this thread. At the very least, your definitions of 'art' and 'artist' have much softer, fuzzier borders around them than the last time you looked at a piece of work.
    Last edited by DaveC426913; 2018-Oct-01 at 05:30 PM.

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