Is it art?

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    Dec 01, 2008 12:43 AM GMT
    5537B00B and I were discussing Damien Hirst's work and the issue of 'is it art?' came up. I once had a discussion (which was quite heated at times) about this issue.
    I think that the term 'art' is subjective. For example, to some, the work of Tom of Finland may be considered pornographic. A specific movie may be considered 'artless commercialism'.
    If I put a couple of nails in a 2x4 and lay it in the center of an empty room and call it "A life of chronic pain", does that therefore constitute valid art.
    What if other's view it as such but I, the creator, don't. Is it art.

    Your thought's....
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    Dec 01, 2008 12:50 AM GMT
    Art is entirely subjective however I think art should make one think. If it doesn't make you ponder then it's not art to me.


    My classic case:

    Middle of nowhere, northern Indiana, gas station, bathroom stall.

    Written on all four walls with a sharpie

    "I ate my neighbor's cum out of his wife's pussy last night....Again"


    No matter who it is, you cannot read this and think of how that can happen.
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    Dec 01, 2008 1:06 AM GMT
    I just want to add this (but it was really 5537B00B's idea). How unartistic of me.

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    Dec 01, 2008 1:19 AM GMT
    Yeah, I would call Demian Hirst's stuff 'art.' I had to google the guy first, because I couldn't recall anything specific he had done. http://www.whitecube.com/artists/hirst/ has a lot of different media and works, not just the shark in three cubes.

    I think I would call it art, because the intent (more or less successful) is to communicate an idea in a (I need a good adjective here: unified, elegant, interesting, self-harmonious) way.

    I don't think I would call your nailed 2x4 'art' because it's not (subjectively) unified/elegant/interesting/self-harmonious though it is intended to communicate an idea, in the same way the blather isn't art, but a poem is.

    Just my 2 cents,
    Charlie
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    Dec 01, 2008 1:20 AM GMT
    For me there is art (lower-case) and Art (Upper-case):
    "art" is something special to my own subjectivity. The smell of pumpkins might, for example, remind me of happy childhood memories, etc.
    "Art," even though still maintaining an element of subjectivity, is objective in its very purpose. Andy Warhol's Coke Bottles could be seen as subjective, something he simply pulled out of his ass, but there is a message behind it. That message is a successful one in that it is understood by many people in the general public.
    I do think that in Art (upper), the purpose has to be evident. It's like a comedian telling a joke. I could tell joke X, but if George Carlin tells the same joke X and adds a little something to it, such as a simple wink, then that can be Art because that wink might mean the difference between subjectivity and an objective interpretation by the audience, as a whole, of the joke.

    But, pay no attention to my opinion, I'm pulling this outta my ass.
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    Dec 01, 2008 1:32 AM GMT
    I have been wondering when our pleasant little art rap would get around to this thorny topic.

    Personally I think Damien Hirst is a really third-rate artist. Even Jeff Koons has more substance.

    Also, I see it as all traceable more or less back to Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, and Marc Chagall. (Dali was not a third-rate artist but he was unapologetically commercial).

    By the way Tom of Finland is pornographic. It is only Durk Dehner and company who have worked so hard to push this work into legitimacy that has sort of stripped it of its primal erotic power. Tom did define the iconography of more than one generation.

    If you measure art in terms of cultural impact then you might say that Tom of Finland and Andy Warhol where both big influencers and giant mirrors to the culture of their day.

    In that respect, I am sorry to say that Damien Hirst is the artist that we deserve. The hedge-fund engorged nouveaux-riche idiots who buy this swill really deserve what they get (I am thinking of Julian Schnabel who had an employee - maybe still does - who went around and stuck bits of crockery back on his deteriorating canvases.)

    There is great art out there in the world to be had and enjoyed. If you want to talk about ludicrous concepts you can have the most important Titian on the market for substantially less than a crappy old Damien Hirst piece of blinged out garbage.


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    Dec 01, 2008 2:05 AM GMT
    Two things Art has to have is quality of execution and originality. It isnt Art if it isnt well done and it isnt Art if it's been done before. ...and I guess it has to by-pass reason and evoke its perception emotionally....which then can be analyzed rationally.
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    Dec 01, 2008 4:24 AM GMT
    finally. a discussion with substance and without flames. thank you!

    UrsaMajor and i agree on one thing - that Koons' work makes more of a statement than Hirst, but that doesn't makes Hirst any less of an artist. he's provoking people. he's original. and he's not doing in it that cloying yoko ono i put an apple on a pedestal and wrote a 4000 word essay about it way. his work is naturally provocative. and i for one, truly appreciate that. spectacle or not.
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    Dec 01, 2008 4:46 AM GMT
    Oh now, the pictures of Jeff Koons fucking Cicciolina were art.

    The art of pure, unalloyed, self-involvement.

    He did have a good body, though.
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    Dec 01, 2008 4:51 AM GMT
    Only the person who made something can tell you if it's art. Everyone else can just guess. In my opinion, if the person who created something did it with the intention to 'infuse' some sort of meaning or message or experience into it, to be shared with those who see it, then it's art. But of course, you can never tell the creator's intentions, you can only guess at it.
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    Dec 01, 2008 4:54 AM GMT
    Art is a very personal thing. But I think that in today's world, for art to be relevant, it has to be provocative and contextual. To be successful, the artist also has to be an incredible self-promoter. Warhol, Koons, and Hirst all have these qualities. As far as, "is it art"? It depends on how you define art.

    If your idea of art is Thomas Kincaid landscapes, then that's art to you. However, if you define art as something that comments on the world around you in a thought provoking way, then Hirst, Koons and others are your guys and Kincaid is garbage.

    I like to be challenged by art. It makes me ask questions of the world around me that I might not have considered. I don't always like Hirst and particularly Koons, but they always have me asking questions and sometimes even give me a good chuckle.
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    Dec 01, 2008 4:58 AM GMT
    people can get so fussy with labeling something as art or not art. why not just take the piece in for what it is and move on. to me i am way open to a lot of things being called art. it doesn't matter to me what it's called, i just want to see the message. if that is what the artist wants to call it, then sure, its art. they created it, so they can call it whatever they'd like even if someone else doesn't agree.

    but if someone wants to start calling their painting a photograph, then i may have a problem, but actually, i still wouldn't care.
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    Dec 01, 2008 5:08 AM GMT
    I think there's a line to be drawn, and it is not dictated by whether something makes you think or have a reaction. A couple of months ago I read an article about an artist who had a pretty sick exhibition where he took a stray dog, chained him to a corner, and had people watch it die.

    Is that art? It certainly generated a lot of emotion and made people think. I just don't think that can be called art. This especially becomes a problem with lame-ass artists who think that being provocative is a strict definition for quality. All they do is try to piss people off, be offensive, or pull some other stunt that has no merit. Then anyone who calls them out on their shit is labeled as someone who "doesn't get it".
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    Dec 01, 2008 5:12 AM GMT
    debussy81 saidArt is entirely subjective however I think art should make one think. If it doesn't make you ponder then it's not art to me.


    My classic case:

    Middle of nowhere, northern Indiana, gas station, bathroom stall.

    Written on all four walls with a sharpie

    "I ate my neighbor's cum out of his wife's pussy last night....Again"


    No matter who it is, you cannot read this and think of how that can happen.


    LMFAO!!!! icon_biggrin.gif

    I actually had a similar experience in Alabama. The stalls were covered in messages, phone numbers, etc...seeming to be from lots of different people (penmanship and numbers indicating). I thought to myself, how many gays does this town of probably 800 have? Just goes to show you, sometimes it IS in the water!
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    Dec 01, 2008 5:26 AM GMT
    Ok I have some times said that things are not really art. Like an art exhibit where a man put a huge American flag on the floor of a room and made people walk on top of it to sign a guest book. At first I was like no! that is a political statement and not are..... But in reality art is not an object its a journey. If what was created/ performed was done with extreme emotion and passions and the person pored their soul into it then yeah it is art. So to make a long story short art has soul all the other shit is just for money
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    Dec 01, 2008 5:31 AM GMT
    ItsMyLife saidOk I have some times said that things are not really art. Like an art exhibit where a man put a huge American flag on the floor of a room and made people walk on top of it to sign a guest book. At first I was like no! that is a political statement and not are..... But in reality art is not an object its a journey. If what was created/ performed was done with extreme emotion and passions and the person pored their soul into it then yeah it is art. So to make a long story short art has soul all the other shit is just for money



    Art (note the capital "a") IS a political statement... art is what you buy in the mall/walmart to match your couch and rugs.
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    Dec 01, 2008 5:56 AM GMT


    Art becomes art when someone pays for it.

    My Aunt was a big name artist back East. She knew a fellow in Europe that wiped his butt with a hankie, put it on a low pedestal, spray varnished it and put in on display. A rich patron paid, are you ready, paid close to $500,000.00 for it and the artist was an exalted celeb overnight. I was so repulsed I never asked her to give names, and now reading this topic I wish I had....she passed away several years ago.

    -Doug
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    Dec 01, 2008 6:16 AM GMT
    Congratulate me! I have found another important Ab Fab clip relevant to this very important discussion.
    It is 9 minutes long, but you just have to watch/listen to what Patsy says in the first minute.
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    Dec 01, 2008 11:50 AM GMT
    I think that my concept of it is a combination of both ursamajor and Caslon in that simply calling it art and having the free market value as validation of it is no reason to call it art.
    I don't believe that art has to make a political statement (that's what OpEds are for). Simply being a manifesto of sorts can be incorporated in art but shouldn't be a requirement of it.
    I believe that if it evokes some strong emotional feeling and is unique and requires a developed and refined technique then I'd be more likely to call it art. It is the combination of these attributes that is required.
    Technical expertise alone makes for an object that's well made.
    Uniqueness alone can be achieved through random action.
    Emotional impact can be had from a Rorschach test.
    I consider myself to be someone who aspires to the title of artist. I'm not there, but I've got an idea of the direction required.

    I would also add that marketing and exposure can 'declassify' art by common opinion and not because it lacks the original qualities I mentioned above. There are artists whose work that may have been done for commercial enterprises (this practice goes back hundreds of years) has been downgraded as art because of the imitators that followed and produced similar though lower quality work.

    Lastly, I've noticed that art is often defined or dismissed by personal taste. "If I like it, it's art, If I don't, it isn't art." For me, while I prefer beauty in art, it doesn't have to be beautiful (to use the term as a positive element) to be art.
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    Dec 01, 2008 5:37 PM GMT
    I never said Damien Hirst's work wasn't art, I said Damien Hirst is a third-rate artist.

    Absolutely I don't believe that there is any transactional benchmark for something being considered art. A beautiful unsold work of art is still a work of art.

    Also, it does seem relevant that this discussion ought to go out of two dimensions and include performance art. Performance art is often (not always) ephemeral, but no less so art because of its fleeting nature.

    There is something that I can appreciate about the agony of artists. The suffering of Jackson Pollock and the obsession of Francis Bacon are particularly resonant.

    Neither do I wish to advocate the tangent that posits that art requires suffering.

    I do think art is always political. Anything that is remotely provocative and authentic is about some kind of politics. Those may be sexual politics, gender politics, or war.

    War brings me to Picasso. I don't happen to believe that Picasso was the great artist of his day. Also, his happened to be a very interesting day.

    In the other thread someone said they would want to live with Guernica (Picasso's magnum opus in my book). Hard to picture living with that as it is truly awful and the zenith of political art.

    When I lived in Vicenza I used to take my exercise in the morning walking up the Sanctuary of Monte Berico where I was often able to commune with Paolo Veronese's Feast of Gregory the Great.

    There is in that Veronese canvas all of the hope, suffering, hubris, destruction, glory, and paucity of the human spirit. It isn't only moving, it is an avalanche of power and one of the glories of Western art.

    Across time and space I recently saw the Francis Bacon exhibit at the Tate Britain (by the way this is the pinnacle of curatorial excellence that I have witnessed in my short life). Here again I can feel so much concentration and authority achieved with an extraordinary economy of means that is in stark juxtaposition to a density of thought that I find it difficult to fathom.

    The Bacons march across the psyche and leave their bootprints squarely on the sexual ID of the 20th century until they finally arrive at the magisterial black and tan triptych painted in 1991. This is a work of such titanic integration and purpose that you can see a lifetime of thought, pain, humiliation, and triumph distilled into three of the most beautiful canvases in the world. When I stood before them I had the feeling that everything had suddenly snapped into focus.

    I am not sure there is any particular point to my rambling. Never would I wish to deny anyone their joy in something like Damien Hirst's diamond encrusted skull. It must somehow speak to the narrative of someone (perhaps Hirst himself, or his wealth managers).

    Surely Paolo Veronese, Francis Bacon, and Damien Hirst all sit somewhere on the same continuum. It would be foolish to say that one is art while the others aren't. It is all art, it is all political, it is all sexual.
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    Dec 01, 2008 5:39 PM GMT
    I never said Damien Hirst's work wasn't art, I said Damien Hirst is a third-rate artist.

    Absolutely I don't believe that there is any transactional benchmark for something being considered art. A beautiful unsold work of art is still a work of art.

    Also, it does seem relevant that this discussion ought to go out of two dimensions and include performance art. Performance art is often (not always) ephemeral, but no less so art because of its fleeting nature.

    There is something that I can appreciate about the agony of artists. The suffering of Jackson Pollock and the obsession of Francis Bacon are particularly resonant.

    Neither do I wish to advocate the tangent that posits that art requires suffering.

    I do think art is always political. Anything that is remotely provocative and authentic is about some kind of politics. Those may be sexual politics, gender politics, or war.

    War brings me to Picasso. I don't happen to believe that Picasso was the great artist of his day. Also, his happened to be a very interesting day.

    In the other thread someone said they would want to live with Guernica (Picasso's magnum opus in my book). Hard to picture living with that as it is truly awful and the zenith of political art.

    When I lived in Vicenza I used to take my exercise in the morning walking up the Sanctuary of Monte Berico where I was often able to commune with Paolo Veronese's Feast of Gregory the Great.

    There is in that Veronese canvas all of the hope, suffering, hubris, destruction, glory, and paucity of the human spirit. It isn't only moving, it is an avalanche of power and one of the glories of Western art.

    Across time and space I recently saw the Francis Bacon exhibit at the Tate Britain (by the way this is the pinnacle of curatorial excellence that I have witnessed in my short life). Here again I can feel so much concentration and authority achieved with an extraordinary economy of means that is in stark juxtaposition to a density of thought that I find it difficult to fathom.

    The Bacons march across the psyche and leave their bootprints squarely on the sexual ID of the 20th century until they finally arrive at the magisterial black and tan triptych painted in 1991. This is a work of such titanic integration and purpose that you can see a lifetime of thought, pain, humiliation, and triumph distilled into three of the most beautiful canvases in the world. When I stood before them I had the feeling that everything had suddenly snapped into focus.

    I am not sure there is any particular point to my rambling. Never would I wish to deny anyone their joy in something like Damien Hirst's diamond encrusted skull. It must somehow speak to the narrative of someone (perhaps Hirst himself, or his wealth managers).

    Surely Paolo Veronese, Francis Bacon, and Damien Hirst all sit somewhere on the same continuum. It would be foolish to say that one is art while the others aren't. It is all art, it is all political, it is all sexual.
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    Dec 01, 2008 11:48 PM GMT
    I am listed as the last poster on this thread but my post doesn't appear?
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    Dec 02, 2008 4:51 AM GMT
    I think I'll line up behind Caslon on this one. Quality and originality are essential before I'm willing to call it a work of art.

    You may see a squashed beer can on the road and think it has a certain artful beauty, but in fact it was just a random occurrence that happened to catch your eye. That doesn't mean it isn't beautiful, but it isn't a "work of art" because the guy who ran over it wasn't trying to create it. And if some idiot who fancies himself an artist runs over a beer can on purpose, frames it and hangs it in a gallery, it still isn't a "work of art" because it took absolutely no skill to create, and there are thousands more just like it lying in the gutter.
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    Dec 02, 2008 5:45 AM GMT
    There is graphic "art" and there is the modern notion of "Conceptual Art". Keep the two separate and your life will be a lot easier. Conceptual art is anything you want it to be; subjective, objective, existential, etc. I think you are referring to conceptual art which may use or may not use graphic design elements but whose purpose is to cause you to think at best, but otherwise cause you to react in some way; think,argue,get mad, bitch about the NEFA etc.,
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    Dec 02, 2008 7:03 AM GMT
    Art should be "desirable". shocking or not, laborious or not, ingenious or not, if not desirable, I won't call it art.