WHAT IS ART?


I often ask the question “what is art?”  A day doesn’t go by that I don’t ask myself that question over and over again.  

I suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and have a large list of questions I ask my self over and over again, primarily because I can’t help myself: that is the nature of OCD – those with the disorder cannot help doing things over and over and over again.  For example, in addition to asking myself “what is art?” I also habitually ask myself “why is a second as long as it  is?”  Seriously. Why?  Why is a second as long as it is?  Who decided?

But I digress. In the same manner that I am fascinated with the history of seemingly arbitrary units of measurement, I am also fascinated by the question of what makes art different from stuff that isn’t art.

After long and obsessive (if not compulsive) pondering, I have concluded that art communicates.  Art has something to say. If it doesn’t have anything to say, then it isn’t art.

Art is a conversation that is multidimensional.  It is a conversation between the artist and viewer.  The conversation can be intellectual.

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It can be emotional.

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And the art people choose to put up in their homes communicates volumes about the person who acquired that art.

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Allow me to attempt to illustrate my thesis with an example drawn from my own life.  Below is a painting my wife purchased for our home.

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Beautiful, isn’t it? This painting is an extremely good example of my wife’s personality.  When I see it on the wall I smile and think of her.

Below is a painting that I recently purchased because it spoke to me. When I a saw it I knew I had to have it.  I wanted to look up and see it in my home.  And, I suspect that my decision to purchase this painting says a great deal about me.

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I can imagine your reaction. You think I’m kidding.  You’ve read my blog and think this is some kind of joke.  It isn’t a joke.  I bought that painting.  Here it it up on my family room wall:

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I just love it. When I look at it I smile because of the multidimensional message it communicates.

The most amazing thing, however, about my new painting is that my wife agreed to let me put it up at all.  I think she did it because the pleasure it provides me is greater than the deep revulsion she feels when she looks at it.

I’ve decided to push my luck.  I’ve found a new painting that I simply must have. I must own it and must place it on a wall within my home.  I love it because it speaks directly to my appreciation for those intrepid 19th Century artists who left civilization to travel through the America West to chronicle the Native American, or “the Noble Savage” as those artists called them.

I found a painting of a Noble Savage – sitting proud and noble – on his trusty Uniclown.

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I simply must own it.

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7 Responses to “WHAT IS ART?”

  1. Greybeard Says:

    I may not know much about Art but I did read a biography of Paul Simon.

    Like

  2. barnesm Says:

    I too like that painting you choose. I also like the definition of art as something I like that I could not do.

    Like

  3. They called him Frost….

    Like

  4. Dino not to be confused with Says:

    PNB,
    You can’t afford it!
    The definition of art is ‘negotiating symbolic resonance’.
    Your good wife has at least 5 points on you for the other one.
    Where are you hoping to hang(assuming a benefactor whose run out of wall space) this expose`. Mmmm?
    You’re dreaming mate!
    Best chance scenerio is a birthday, if you’ve been good.
    Or just hang it up and see what happens.
    Good luck with that one.

    Like

  5. paulboylan Says:

    @Cat – Zelazny?

    Like

  6. I like unicorns, that is art.

    Like

  7. Well spotted, Paul.

    Like

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