Saturday, September 3, 2011

Is This Art?

New York. MoMA. Andy Warhol by Tomas Fano

Sometimes I see a piece of "artwork," hear a "song," or read a "book," and think to myself, That's just not art/music/literature. There's something wrong with it.

    noun /√§rt/ 
    arts, plural

    1. The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.
    2. Works produced by such skill and imagination

What is your definition of art?

I'll tell you what mine is. 

  • Art is not art which is meaningless or merely depicts reality. A can of Campbell's soup is not art. Dead silence is not art. In-congruent words typed on a page is not art. 
  • Art is not art which is merely whatever form an artist's whimsy takes. The free-flowing of artistic passion was not what made da Vinci and Mozart and Shakespeare great. 
Art must point to God. This does not mean that its subject matter must be spiritual, but it must point us either to Heaven or to Hell, to the fullness or the absence of God. If it points elsewhere, it points nowhere.

True art lies in self-discipline. Seeing an end and bravely going to meet it.

Art means order and purpose. Without purpose art is a blotched canvas or a discordant jumble of notes or a ruined sheet of paper. If we showcase the world's sores and do not offer to dress them, or call others to dress them, or show them how to dress them, we have failed. Not every story must have a moral, but it must have a point and a hope hidden behind every brush-stroke and note and word.

I am not in the camp that says, "True art and music must conform to a precise mathematical formula or it's rubbish." I chime in with Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, "I know it when I see/hear/read it." As I said at the beginning of this post, I just know

So what is your threshold for true art? Have you ever considered it?
New York. MoMA. Andy Warhol, a photo by Tomas Fano on Flickr.

1 comment:

  1. That is just what I think when we breeze through the "modern art" section of the museum and see plain green triangles and red squares hanging on the wall, or senseless scribbles in ball-point pen adorning an unrecognizable paper mache model.

    If it is lovely and stirs something holy within us, it has purpose and order and points to something--and can be appropriately considered art. A can of Campbell's soup does not do this.


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