Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Art or Not?

John Everett Millais: Beyond the Pre-Raphaelite BrotherhoodI lack a degree in art appreciation and I am no expert on art, so my visits to art museums always set me to wondering why some of the works on display would be considered art worthy of a museum wall. I know what I like and research tells me that in itself can be a partial definition of good art. Art is that which inspires great emotion or is a springboard to intriguing thoughts. Among other things, good art is intellectually or emotionally provocative. 

Good art or great art? Is the difference determined by the test of time or expert technique? Is it great symbolism as that found in Millais's Ophelia? I'm a great lover of flowers so this painting shows me a new view of those flowers as well as a new appreciation of Shakespeare's Hamlet. After reading about the symbolism, and the history of the painting--painted 1852, and the fact that it is hanging on the wall of the Tate Museum in Britain, this seems to be undeniably great art.

Because I'm not an expert in art, I am often baffled on my trips to Modern Museums of Art where I've seen some really unusual items like bottle cap art in designs on walls, similar to this display at Las Vegas in Mandalay Bay's House of Blues. Folk art, great art, good art; who's to say? It is certainly fun to look at.


Granted, it is totally creative and unique when used car parts are turned into dinosaurs, but is it art? Recycling art takes ordinary junk and redesigns it into recognizable shapes of other objects. It's very clever and creative; very green for the environment; is this a recognized art form? Just asking. This is the art of Yubi Kirindongo from Curacao.

I'm constantly trying to decide, when is it art or childish crap?  Am I missing the message, or does it have a message? I wouldn't call this item great art, but it certainly sent me on a chase to learn about floriographytussie-mussies and nosegays


  1. that's the eternal question isn't it? the other unanswerable question it art or is it craft? art is so subjective and there are so many kinds of art.

  2. My husband and I have often had this conversation, although I try to not have it with him when we are standing in the middle of an art museum where he sometimes loudly voices his opinion. You have raised a good question in this post. Enjoy your day !

  3. Boy did I enjoy this post. It asks many of the same questions I do when I visit art museums, which I love to do. I can't say I am only an art lover from a particular period, though I am a Rembrandt, Renoir, Monet, etc., fan.

    I truly love Georgia O'Keefe and Wayne Thiebaud is would fall into the modern art category but his line, form, and motion will give you vertigo. I LOVE HIM. He's still alive, too, though in his late 80's.

    Having visited MOMA (The Museum of Modern Art) in San Francisco many times, I have to say I have wondered about the Emperor's New Clothes more than once. The last time we were there a whole floor was dedicated to an artist who painted only one color tone on huge 10x15 canvasses - 30 or more of them. Seriously? I failed to find the depth or talent in any of it and felt a whole floor had been wasted while TRUE artists, though unknown, we're languishing outside the city gates!

    I'll be posting my daughter's art within the next day or so. I'd LOVE to get YOUR opinion. :)

    Oh HAHAHAHAHAHA! My Word Veri? "Stinchem." (As in "Stinkem I'm thinkin!)

  4. Bring it on! I would love to see your daughter's art on your blog. My granddaughter who is five, does some cute stuff. Notice I call it stuff here, but I ask her to tell me about her works. Guessing is dangerous. I like to encourage her without lying.

  5. I feel much the same way as you do about art. I think I would like to take a course in art history, something I neglected to do in college. I loved the painting of Ophelia, but not so much the floriography. So, as you say, much of art is what is appreciated by the viewer, but learning more about it also allows the viewer to see more of what it's all about - making it more interesting.

  6. I agree about the floriography. When I looked at the chart of meanings that other eras attached to various flowers, I was a big skeptic. They are pretty and make me feel good. Beyond that, each person connects their own memories to various flowers. Carnations remind me of my high school years. Roses have several memories for me that I won't explain. Orchids say weddings to me and that has my unique set of emotions, not something from a chart designed by the Victorians.

  7. Gosh, this is one of the questions that will be argued by artists till the end of time. I studied art in college and appreciate a wide variety of styles.

    Re: your question on my blog, I did a little post some time ago with tips for genealogical research. There's an amazing world of records out there, as well as other's research info. My two cents? Be careful. It's addicting!

  8. This is a good article and the topic of "is is art" is one I ask myself, as well. Of course, I probably don't agree with anyone. I, personally, prefer the impressionists and can't rave about abstract art. I haven't really had money to invest in art work so no decisions have been all that important. I surround myself with things that please me. Good enough!