Who Decides?

The Message

“I write from my soul. This is the reason that critics don’t hurt me, because it is me. If it was not me, if I was pretending to be someone else, then this could unbalance my world, but I know who I am.” Paulo Coelho

Who decides whether art is good or bad?  Is it based on our personal preferences or do we defer to the opinion of an expert?  In our world, we construct benchmarks to measure such features as performance, usability, reliability which allows a novice to base decisions on the analysis of others who have expertise in an area of inquiry. This is a valuable tool.  It saves time and allows the beginner to develop an understanding of the subject-matter.

But when it comes to art, do the same principles apply?  Are we influenced by popular opinion?  Do we trust our judgment to evaluate creative endeavours?

Personal preferences and value systems do impact on the way we appreciate and recognize beauty and symmetry.  Will our individual ideas hold us back from recognizing true genius, much like those who would not accept Impressionism when it was first developed in Paris in the 1860’s?  Maybe that is our underlying concern – that we will miss something important.  This was my thought when I researched the definition of an art critic.  An art critic is simply a person whose work is to analyse and interpret works of art within the context of aesthetics, a branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of art, beauty and taste.

Within this framework, the prospect of diverse opinions are virtually endless, which opens the dialogue to all who take pleasure in viewing works of art.  When we enter the conversation, when we consider our sentiments relevant, we are adding depth and breadth to the creative force that drives humanity’s need to find beauty and joy.

“I don’t listen to what art critics say. I don’t know anybody who needs a critic to find out what art is.” Jean-Michel Basquiat

 

19 Comments

    1. Clanmother

      I love street art, which weaves creativity into the “fabric” of daily life. It is there – front and centre – challenging, as well as inviting, us to think, to respond, to become involved in a bigger dialogue. It was Edgar Degas who said, “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” Street Art is not hidden in a private collection, but shared with a diverse community. Thank you so much for your comments!

  1. Britt Skrabanek

    Love this, and love the graffiti art as well!

    I’m pretty open when it comes to art and I can see the positive effort in almost anything. Many are too quick to tear something apart, because they don’t understand the piece, or they don’t understand in general as they don’t create things themselves.

    1. Clanmother

      Thank you, Britt – so glad that you enjoyed the graffiti art. I often wonder if our first inclination is to “judge” something. We make so many decisions in our daily routine that we look for shortcuts, which generally begins with looking at the worst-case scenario as a protective measure. It takes time to consider something new, whether it is an idea, book, painting, sculpture. Art deserves our full attention, for it is what makes our lives meaningful. Ken Robinson says it best: “Creativity is putting your imagination to work, and it’s produced the most extraordinary results in human culture.”

    1. Clanmother

      I have often wondered the same thing. I have read a few articles on the subject of criticism, all of which indicate that there is merit in the process. But the question still comes down to “who decides.” I find that many of us (and I include myself in this category) defer to a third party, because we think their opinion, based on their knowledge and experience, has more value than ours. While it is wonderful to receive accolades, I believe that we are in the best position to understand our creative output. When I took this photo, I thought of Banksy’s quote: “Should graffiti be judged on the same level as modern art? Of course not: It’s way more important than that.”
      Thank you for your comments, LaVagabonde!!! 🙂

      1. LaVagabonde

        Yes, yet again, we look to others to tell us what we should think. Just like those blurbs that you see on book covers and, increasingly, the first pages of the book. It used to be that the back of the book had a synopsis, now it’s only important people telling us how great they may or may not have thought the book is. (I suspect that it’s part of an author contract to write a certain amount of blurbs for other authors.) Give me a paragraph summary and let me decide for myself, please. Sheesh. Sorry for the rant, but this is something that really annoys me. 😉

      2. Clanmother

        I love your rants!!! Remember the book-cover flaps that gave the background on the author? That’s where I always started. Who was the writer? That was the person I wanted to meet first. As a child, my favourite book was “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle. I just read it again a couple of years ago, simply because I liked her. The narrative reflected her values, compassion, joy of life.

        “You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.” Madeleine L’Engle

        To me, art is about connecting with people to exchange ideas and participate in the greater conversation that spans time and space. We may feel that life has limits, but with art -ah, the possibilities are limitless! 🙂

  2. Ms Frances

    This subject is so worthy. I think our personal likes or dislikes of art comes from our “gut” feelings. I like some art whether it be paintings on a wall or sculptures displayed in a museum more than others. It is very important, I believe, to enlarge our opinions and knowledge of different kinds of art–the opinions of art critics are valuable because that is one way we learn. But, I suppose if we were to research we would find that the arts critics do not always agree. I suggest, as we are learning, that we just enjoy the “art” all around us.

    1. Clanmother

      I agree wholeheartedly about enjoying the “art” around us. In all of our busyness, we forget to be present in the moment, to enjoy the morning sun, the smell of fresh bread, to hear the laughter of children, – to me this is the definition of art. We use all of our senses to experience art. In my research I have found that art critics do not agree and some of them, at the outset, do not fully appreciate a new style or format. Artists themselves do not fully appreciate, and even doubt their gift. It is hard to believe that Claude Monet once said: “My life has been nothing but a failure.” I find that in knowing the artist’s story, I am more likely to understand their work.

  3. ernstblumenstein

    Kunst ist sehr individuell und jeder Mensch hat ein anderes Empfinden. Sie wiederspiegelt dadurch die einmalige Differenziertheit der Menschen und trägt so zur Verständigung bei. Viele Grüsse an dich Rebecca, wünsche dir eine frohe Zeit. Ernst

    1. Clanmother

      Ich stimme voll und ganz. Kunst hat einzigartige Eigenschaften, die Menschen anders zu sprechen. Ich denke, das ist das Geschenk der Kunst. Besonders schätze ich dieses Zitat von Anselm Kiefer:

      “Art is longing. You never arrive, but you keep going in the hope that you will.” Anselm Kiefer

    1. Clanmother

      This was the exact discussion at coffee this morning – how important is our individual efforts? From where I sit at the computer I can see an intricately designed crocheted peacock that was made by one of my great-grandmothers. I never met this woman, nor do I know any of her life story or how she came to make the peacock. It was meant to adorn a table, but I chose to have it framed. Every day, I enjoy its presence in my life. We may never know how we have influenced another person with our creative efforts, but I know that what we do is important. Vincent says it best:

      “There is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.” Vincent van Gogh

      Thank you for your comments – they are very much appreciated.

  4. Letizia

    I love this discussion. My father has a photograph of graffiti he took in the early 80s in NYC: it says Does bad art exist? It was always hanging in some part of the house and making us think.

    Happy Thanksgiving my friend – I’m thankful for our wonderful internet friendship!

    1. Clanmother

      What a wonderful photo. I LOVE the question – does bad art exist? The more I consider that question, the more I realize that art is a journey that demands our full participation. There is nothing “easy” about art. We are challenged to move beyond the world of absolutes and embrace a flexible, what may even seem chaotic existence. The composer Stephen Sondheim brings out the opposite thought: “Art, in itself, is an attempt to bring order out of chaos.”

      Happy Thanksgiving, my dear friend. I’m am so glad that we are on this journey together.

    1. Clanmother

      Thank you, Cindy! Over the past few months I have been pondering the idea of how we view our participation within our global society. Art allows us to explore our unique capabilities. Human opinion is a vast subject.

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