270 Days ’til 40: What is Art???

27 May

Lately I have had quite a few interesting conversations with my daughters (ages 8 and 10) about what constitutes art.  This is a tough concept for some adults, let alone children.  It has sparked some very heated and engaging conversations among us.

The conversations began as a result of seeing a modern art exhibit in a local restaurant.  “Mom, why is that art, I can do that.”  The reply was, “Ah, yes you can do that, but you didn’t.”  “So, if I do that now, will it be art?”  “Probably not, someone already did it.”  It made for a very interesting conversation.

I must say, that I too find it hard to appreciate some art as art.  When it is indeed something that I could recreate I find it harder to appreciate than art that I know I have no talent to recreate (disclaimer, art is not my thing so most pieces of art cannot be recreated by me).  It a paint by numbers painting art?  Is my coffee splashed on a blank piece of paper art?  Is this blog art?

I often wonder if I just do not have the properly trained and developed eye to even begin to understand art… then again, that makes me wonder if it is really art.  If it is not appealing to the masses, to those who have no clue what art should be – is it art?  Is it art if it is appealing to the masses and becomes incorporated into popular culture, or is that too much assimilation and does the art lose all meaning?

I suppose I should stick to blogging – is that art?

Today, 270 days ’til 40, I stand in awe of the artists around me who create amazing things – beautiful, or thought-provoking, or deep commentary on the ills of society – I am in awe of all those who bring art into this world and the messages they work to convey (even when I do not always get the messages).



Posted by on May 27, 2012 in attitude, Education, Health, Rants, Work


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36 responses to “270 Days ’til 40: What is Art???

  1. wherethedaytakesme

    May 27, 2012 at 00:49

    My boyfriend would love this post.

  2. stephenedwards425

    May 27, 2012 at 00:53

    I am one of those who only knows what he likes, but can’t tell you why he likes it. I remember several years ago someone wrote, “Art takes up, when language comes to an end.” I think that sums it up.

    Be encouraged!

  3. handustry

    May 27, 2012 at 01:00

    “Art becomes such when others says it is so. I could paint, draw, sculpt for years and years, if no one proclaims my work is art, then it is not.”

    That’s something that totally changed my vision of contemporary art. I used to think it was all a big waste of energy and materials. I used to only appreciate classical works of art. Never understood modern and contemporary art until someone who worked at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (Montreal’s Contemporary Art Museum) took the time to explain to me that those artists who break all barriers, defy all rules, and explore the wildest paths are pioneers. Like painters of the Renaissance who introduced perspective, a really revolutionary way of depicting reality and beyond, perspective we all take for granted today, contemporary artists present us with new ways of perceiving and interpreting our reality and the future.

    Every one can paint abstract inspired works, sculptures or else. But what makes it art is the process, the underlying intelligence and message that form the base upon which such work becomes art. Well that’s what I think until I go further into my reflection or someone presents me with other deeper ways of appreciating art.

    But don’t despair, if like me, you aspire at creating art, simply do, do, do, try, try, try until someone gets it and loves it 🙂

  4. Ray Laskowitz

    May 27, 2012 at 01:17

    To paraphrase John Lennon when he was asked what his songs meant, “whatever you want them to mean.” Same thing about art…. whether or not it appeals to the masses is irrelevant. Everyone makes their own meaning.

  5. jensine

    May 27, 2012 at 02:15

    I once read that artists are visionars of the future … they see and do things before their time, that is why they art and we copy 🙂

  6. buckwheatsrisk

    May 27, 2012 at 04:32

    i would say it depends on if you are trying to please someone or not…i would not consider myself an artist at all, but i love to paint and have received compliments on it, i can’t draw at all, only abstract. for me it is not to please anyone, it is just pure enjoyment. if it happens to please someone, i feel doubly blessed that day. 🙂 i think writing/blogging is a form of art, that’s my humble opinion. 🙂

    • 400daystil40

      May 27, 2012 at 17:40

      Great point!!!

      • buckwheatsrisk

        May 27, 2012 at 18:34


  7. saymber

    May 27, 2012 at 05:21

    I think the truth about what art is boils down to this: Art is in the eye of the beholder. What you think is interesting, clever, beautiful, well-done and all the other descriptors of an object, a photo, a sculpture, an item like in your photo I might think is crap. A coffee stain on a t-shirt may look like the “The Scream” and I might think it’s just a coffee stain. The magic of art is differing of perspective from one person to the next. There is something for everyone to appreciate!

  8. viveka

    May 27, 2012 at 13:17

    Anything can be art .. if a monkey can sell art – you can … it all about good PR and bad taste *smile Everything is in the viewer’s eyes and wallet. Was at the Guggenheim museum in Bilbo and there they had a black massive painting with a red spot in one of the corners – and they call it art – that is to take the mickey out of me as a viewer. Terrible, I became very upset really. What a load of bull !!!!!

    • 400daystil40

      May 27, 2012 at 17:41

      I think a monkey may have more talent than I do!!!! 🙂

  9. jensine

    May 27, 2012 at 15:27

    • 400daystil40

      May 27, 2012 at 17:41

      Thank you so much! This is very kind of you!!! 🙂

      • jensine

        May 27, 2012 at 21:44

        you are welcome, thought it may help

  10. thesubterraneanworld

    May 27, 2012 at 15:46

    Great Post!

  11. sued51

    May 27, 2012 at 16:04

    It is a difficult question…because art is subjective, but also…each creative field has its rules for designating what “art” is…popularity, critical acclaim, or adherence to strict rules set by “experts”…I don’t think there is a true answer to that question without a lot of qualifications on the question itself…
    But yes, your blog is a type of “art”…:-)

    • 400daystil40

      May 27, 2012 at 17:42

      As long as my blog is art, then I guess I am okay!!!

  12. Anonymous

    May 27, 2012 at 16:09

    As an artist, thought I’d ponder this. To me creativity equals art, and I believe most humans have some creative talent. Art is something that evokes feeling – doesn’t always have to be beautiful – art can disturb and touch in other ways. There are certain “rules” that make fine art fine art, line, composition, light and shadow, focal point…but these get broken all the time and make for stunning art!! Art can be a great way to engage children and adults with their imagination. Ask what do you see here…might be different from what the artist saw…but how wonderful to use our imagination to think about our view of the world!! Art usually is one of a kind, a craft is something that can be replicated, in general. My mission via the art prescription is to encourage creativity and expression for wellness. And yes writing is art!! grin! Making art lowers our blood pressure, increases good brain chemicals and boosts our immune system. Go forth and create!

    • 400daystil40

      May 27, 2012 at 17:42

      Thank you so much for your comment and the link!!!!!

  13. narf7

    May 27, 2012 at 23:56

    Art is now collectively called “creative science” and encompasses everything in life that we create to add colour, texture, shading and flavour to our lives. Its how we voice ourselves to allow others to see what makes us unique and as such ANYONE can be an artist. Elitism has given some “artists” an enormous degree of self importance, but as the old saying goes…”art is in the eye of the beholder” and its only “appreciated” if the beholder ‘gets it’! Music is art…cooking is art…pure mathematics is art…nature grows art every single day…it isnt something that can be nailed down and stuffed into a genre, rather a loosely based term for something that we do that tries to explain our inner human condition. Your daughters hit the nail on the head when they questioned what they saw. THAT is the reason for art…for making people think about what it was that caused that manifestation in the first place, not the art itself. I fully intend on spending my afternoon listening to some amazing art created by Pink Floyd. After that I am going to cook a meagre homage to Nigel Slater in my evening meal and then I will probably release my mind into a good book…art is everywhere 🙂

    • 400daystil40

      May 28, 2012 at 23:08

      Great points you make! I love the reference to “creative science”!!!! 🙂

  14. John Jonelis

    May 28, 2012 at 05:37

    Let me address your question by talking about VISUAL art. Beneath every successful work of visual art is an abstract structure that draws the viewer at a sensory level. Subject matter builds intellectual layers onto that structure. The mind responds to music in a similar way, but the added layers are lyrical and poetic. It is the direct sensory connection that separates aesthetic art from literature. /

    • 400daystil40

      May 28, 2012 at 23:06

      Thanks for your great comment! What good points!

  15. Spider42

    May 28, 2012 at 12:45

    I think you shouldn’t over think this too much – it’s what the arty crowds and snobs would want of all average folks.

    Yes, being an expert and aware of a load of nuance is great and all, but that is not all there is to art, never had been, never will.
    Art is expression, it’s ideas put forth in varied ways and mediums and is raw emotion and passion and intellect expressed through a medium beyond words – written or spoken, though words are an art all their own.

    True are can be anything from a lovely sand sculpture that never survives the day to a absent-minded doodle that’s deep and evocative, an intricate carving, an unexpected moment caught on camera or film in perfect timing (luck or planned) and so much more besides. I remember seeing an exhibit in the Centre Pompidue of a famous artist and his art was a mix of garbage (literally) and things he’d blown up (like a car) and a piano he’d sliced and arrange the way it was (except now in slivers) and such. Mostly, I didn’t get it – but there were a couple of pieces where despite myself and my predilection for not liking most ‘modern’ art there were a few pieces that actually struck a chord or thought in my mind as to what the artist was trying to express.

    Art is interpretative, it’s subjective and is not always meant to be loved by all. Art is the stuff you either love it or couldn’t care less if it was burnt and tossed in the garbage. It is meant to be seen by anyone who it touches, simple as that. You and your partner/spouse (for eg) could both have completely diverging tastes/interests but one piece, just one painting/whatever seems to resonate with you both. It’s not logic, it’s art. Period.

    • 400daystil40

      May 28, 2012 at 23:06

      Yes, I have basically come to the same conclusions as you have!

  16. simon7banksS

    June 12, 2012 at 10:50

    I wtite poetry. I prefer not to call myself a poet. What I write is art, but I try to forget that.

    I often wish we could ditch the word “art” because so often people are precious and vain about it. I stare at an old brick wall because I find it fascinating. I stare at a new brick wall in an exhibition because I also find it fascinating. Fine. But I shouldn’t give the new wall one second more attention because it’s labelled “art”. Sometimes verbal artists write something mean and nasty and then react with pompous shock when challenged as if their critics are attempting censorship. Someone writes something of no great beauty, vividness or originality, sets it out in a nice shape in short lines on a page and demands attention. Good art should be capable of drawing us in without a label saying “I’m important”.

    However, there is something I can call “art” that I value and I can’t find another word for it.

    Stephenedwards – I liked your definition until I thought, “What about literature? That’s made up of words. Isn’t it art?”

    Handustry – agreed up to a point. Shakespeare and Turner, Hopkins and Kandinsky, Sibelius and Dylan, were innovators and great artists. But doing something new or breaking boundaries is of no value by itself. I could break all conventions, do something really new, and it would be rubbish. I’m open to experimental art, but it is an experiment – something that may go one way, maybe the other. Barriers should be broken because there’s something worthwhile on the other side, not for the sake of breaking.

    And by the way, I really liked the picture. I can see it’s a rubber glove, but it looks like a fossil, a sign of some past life.

    • 400daystil40

      June 12, 2012 at 22:58

      Such good points! You are so correct that the word “art” can be so damn intimidating! I also thought the photo was cool…. it was in bronze on a sidewalk in the Boston area….

  17. artistspromenade

    July 24, 2012 at 23:15

    Great debate and part of why I started my blog about creativity and art. I’ve met many people who have extraordinary hobbies or talent, yet when I mention what a great artists they are, they are quickly dismissive of their own unique talent. I’ve even been told numerous times by different people, ” I’m not and Artist artist, I just play around with art.”
    If art soothes you, emboldens you, or forces you to create a song, or a painting, or to dismantle a computer and put it back together correctly and with intense joy, well I’d call that person an artist.
    Your blog is art, the way you thread your thoughts together to express your opinion or an idea, is an expression and extension of you. That we all get to read it and witness your work is a blessing all it’s own.


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