Wednesday, June 1, 2016

What even is art?

There are times when I’ve been walking around an art museum and I look at a giant canvas in front of me and think, “I could have done that,” a thought that, I’m ashamed to admit, makes me value the art less. I struggle to find what appears to be a very simplistic painting as true “art” because on the surface it appears to lack any real talent on the part of the artist. While I do know that that isn’t true, it does bring into question for me, what exactly makes an artist? This question was exemplified well in this piece that I found at the TATE-

The headline translates to “Is every person an artist?” I think the answer to this question is yes, anyone can be an artist, as I think all people are creative. However, in order to be an artist one has to create art, which then brings into question what exactly qualifies as art? Clearly some things that I personally don’t think of as art are considered to be so by others, which is why they’re displayed in museums. Personally, I think that art is anything that evokes some sort of reaction from those consuming it. This reaction doesn’t have to be all that powerful, nor does it have to be positive, but there has to be a reaction nonetheless. When I look at certain works of art, I find it disappointing in its simplicity and I’m confused as to why it’s in a museum on display. Even though I don’t like the piece, I’m still reacting to it, and therefore I recognize it as art.
Under this understanding that anyone can be an artist, this piece points out the sexism of art on display at museums-

I don’t believe that this statistic stems from the fact that there are significantly less female artists than men, because all people are artists, and therefore the ratio of men to women creating art should be nearly equal. However, this doesn’t appear to be the case because women aren’t considered artists, but art themselves. This idea is expressed in John Berger’s Ways of Seeing when he states “men act and women appear” (Berger 47). Male artists are being credited with what they create as art whereas women are often only considered works of art themselves with little regard as to what they can create. 

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