What Makes This Art?



CC licensed Arturo Espinosia Worms 3 via Flickr

It’s five hundred years in the future. A group of threatening aliens recently arrived on earth. They propose to eliminate the human race unless we humans have a real justification for our existence, something to show for all the generations past and the time we’ve spent here. Art serves that purpose, it justifies our existence. Art is what we have to show for millions of years of existence, and brings meaning or purpose to humanity. Art encompasses many faces that it displays to the world, and it should not be solely labeled as beautiful. The purpose art serves is not always to display perfection or what is considered beautiful, but alternatively can also present personal perceptions, serve self-expression, and provide an outlet for creativity. Art is often an extension of one’s personality, thoughts, or view of the world. When words fail we need other means of communication, and that may not be beautiful or doesn’t always, “look nice; it [is] supposed to make you feel something” (Rowell, Rainbow).


CC licensed carnegenyc Banksy via Flickr 

Over time, the definition of art has evolved. Until the twentieth century, to be considered talented artists pursued realism and beauty in their work. Artisans like Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci were held accountable for producing indefectible art proving their capability. In more contemporary perspectives, Art has morphed into including ugly aspects, of everyday items that are simply classified as ‘art’ because someone named it as such. Some of the most famous examples include Frida Kahlo and Jackson Pollock’s work. The pieces they  form definitely aren’t  that are meant to be pretty. However, both Pollock and Kahlo are exceptionally exalted for their craft. Ironically, Jackson Pollock has been credited for creating some of the worst art in the world. What is it supposed to be exactly? The painting almost looks like an array of different condiments that were splashed around in an unsightly gooey mess.Nevertheless, Pollock is an artist, he makes art, and refinement is not the purpose of his art.

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CC licensed arcticpenguin Dallas Museum of Art via Flickr


Art critics, art-aficionados, and connoisseurs would beg to differ, art needs to have aesthetic value or it becomes worthless. In fact the definition of art is, “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.” This popular assumption that art possesses its consequence, merit, or importance from the beautiful aspects it often holds. Artists recurrently stray from the usual, so that new, cutting-edge content is always being created. Art used to be strictly about beauty and perfection, and not focused on progression and individuality. While aesthetic value is important, the value of a piece should never be based on how classically appealing or real it happens to be. Are there minimum standards that cause art to qualify as ‘real’ art?

Often times there is a standard. The art world defines this paradigm with the Principals of Design (movement, unity, contrast, repetition, symmetrical balance, asymmetrical balance, emphasis)  and The Elements of Art (line, shape, color, texture, value). All art is based on top of these foundations; however, the rules are often strayed from or completely rejected as styles progress and being unique becomes more important. The foundation is still encouraged and relevant. “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist”(Piasso). Some art rebels and becomes ugly, strange, or weird. Modern political street artist Cesar “Banksy” Cruz claims: “art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”  Art is intended to shock, not only forcing ideas outside of the box but shattering the box .

This “box-of-pattern” plagues many artists; however, famous trailblazers paved the way to the future in terms of art. Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Picasso as well as the previously mentioned Banksy wandered outside the norms and shocked everyone revolutionizing the art world. It is ordinary people who spawn revolutions, new techniques, and ideas. All of the previous artists expressed this, for example Keith Haring “declassed” art. He brought fine art to the average person with his wildly popular Pop Shop. None of the beginning ideas of these artists were considered beautiful in their respective eras. In spite of standards, many artists opposed and created what they believed to be beautiful. Because, “the role of the artist is to be an antagonist” (Keith Haring). If someone believes that their creation is beautiful or important then it should not be invalidated by an outside viewer simply because the art isn’t quintessential, agreeable, or follow minimum standards.


CC licensed http://www.beefybasses.com/info@beefybasses.com Keith-Haring via Flickr

We make art to remember, to gaze into the minds of others, and feel the intensity intended from one soul to the eyes of on lookers. Great art can be hyperrealism or unbounded creativity and neither can be proven to be better than the other. Art is beautiful even it is not classified as such by all. Art, even hard featured art, forces us to think more deeply, strive more intently, and feel joy more profoundly.