Friday, February 12, 2010

John McPhee

Here's an interesting addition to the discussion about what is art.

There are some insightful comments under it, as is common on tOP, for example Janne's and Ctein's, both of which point to the change of the perciever's way of looking, and its influence on the experience of aesthetics.

And also Damon who says:
"I do take issue, though, with equating "art" and "successful art." It really does seem needlessly elitist to me to put down unsuccessful art as being something other than what it was intended as. But what is it then? If Van Gogh's early work isn't art, what is it? Craft? Likely not accomplished enough to qualify as craft. No, sorry, it's art. You may not like it; it may not work for you as art. It may work better as a wrapper of fish and liner of birdcages, but it's still art."

And David says:
"Lots of people hate cubism in general. Does this make all cubist art suddenly 'not art'?"

Just so. The problem is that there should be a pretty objective definition to aid communication about art, and the quality of experience is totally subjective. How many people have to agree that it's art for it to be art? How do we decide who is right? Is it a matter of education? Or innate sensibility?


Anonymous said...

If you linked to that piece in full awareness of this direct rebuttal of your own position, then credit to you:

"Some people know what art is when they see it, and some people don't.

"If you take the position that anything can be art, or that if somebody says it's art, that it is—then you're one of the people who don't."

There is still time to recant if you ignore the siren calls of your groupies.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Groupies, ha, I don't recall a single person supporting me in this! :-)

Anyway, I don't say "anything" as such, I say "anything made as art". Not an apple or a box of butter.

Say 100 amateurs make 100 paintings. Some will be good, some bad. Many will say, some are art, some are not. I just say, they are all paintings, therefore they are all art, regardless of quality.
But I've pretty much given up on conveying this by now.

Michael Burton said...

John McPhee is a great writer. One of his early books is titled "Oranges." It's a whole book about oranges. It's fascinating.

McPhee makes anything he writes about interesting. I recommend anything with his name on it.

Anonymous said...

But I've pretty much given up on conveying this by now.

You should give it up, as you embarrass yourself every time you try. Your ability to reason is seriously impaired.