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Headline : But is it Art ?

June 2, 2014

THis was the hook for an article in the “Times” dated Oct 22 1997. The article was sub headed; “It’s not a new question,but it bears repeating. When art-world denizens are asked to define ‘art’, the outcome is predictable.” . . It was a piece by Amei Wallach. Here are the framed opening paragraphs.
“The debate continues about where art is today and what so many people still want it to be. For years, the National Endowment for the Arts has been the target of some members of Congress and their constituents and has sometimes seemed on the brink of extinctiion, although Congress voted Sept.30 to preserve the agency for another year with $98-million, just slightly under the previous year’s allocation.” The article continues.
” On CBS earlier this month, Morley Safer devoted a segment of 60 Minutes to attacking a selection of contemporary art; the report was a follow-up to a controversial one he presented in 1993 on the same subject. Again, he asked the rhetorical question, Yes, but is it art?
When artists are as comfortable with video as (with ) marble, when paintings bear no resemblance to anything Gainsborough or even Jackson Pollock would have recognized, when a work of art can be mistaken for “a hole in the ground” as critic Arthur Danto puts it, many people are wary of where artists are leading them. What art is, what good art is and who decides, are real questions. Some art world participants and observers respond below. . . (End of the frame up.)
Continuing on, tomorrow I will begin serving up those responses as blogs on this site and my other site (One for me and one for youMy Blog) But here is a short one to wet the appetite.
MARY ANN MARGER
Art Criric,St. Petersburg Times.
” Art is almost anything; the history of art proves that. The only real limitatiion is that it is created by human beings. Good art is motivated by a nobler purpose than achieving fame or making money, but noble purpose alone does not make good art, and one person’s noble purpose may be another’s offense. To understand art, you have to view it with an open mind. In choosing a bay area artist to respond to the question, I rejected those who refuse to accept 20th century ideas about art, which may be an indication of my own prejudices.” This blog discussion continues tomorrow on my other Blog site. See ya!!

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2 Comments
  1. Not all subjective experiences are as universally meaningful as others, not all products are created with the skill of an experienced craftsperson, not all endeavors are undertaken with the attention and patience of someone who feels their very soul is dependent on outcomes, not all projects require internal transformation. The question isn’t really something ‘is art’ or ‘not art’, it is whether it is ‘meaningful art’, or ‘skillful art’, or ‘heart and soulful art’, or ‘transformational art’, or (dare be asked) ‘useful art’. Art without meaning, skill, soul/heart, utility… that does not fundamentally affect it’s viewer… is still art, but most wouldn’t consider it worthy of hanging in a gallery or being performed in public. Most wouldn’t exchange money (or even time) for it. That said, some seem to strive towards hollow superficiality as if it were spiritual enlightenment

    Western culture is still trying to reconcile and integrate the concepts of meaningful-meaninglessness and effortless-effort. I look forward to the future where we try to intentionally balance that ‘great art comes only when egos get out of the way’ with our focus on ego-development and reinforcement. The great future Neo-Buddhist-Epoch of Western Culture”.

    • OK precursive. Now that you’ve ruined my coming out party. Sincere thanks. And here’s why,your reply to this “But is it art?” article in the ‘Times in 1997, was going to be my finale, after posting a few more comments from big wigs in the art world. I am quite lazy you see. I sense that either you are a bigger wig than them all,those commenters, or as simple a man as I am. In a word, art is nothing but and “ILLUSTRATION “. Your post is a summation of all the comments that could be made about art.

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