Thursday, April 28, 2011

By Definition

I've got a little brain exercise for you.  Now, I know, I know-- me and brains, plus exercise have never gone together, but bear with me on this.

Head on out to your local sporting goods store and buy a basketball.  Hold the ball in front of you.  Is it art?

I don't think it is either.  But now put it on a marble pedestal.  Is it art yet?

Can't convince me it is.  Although some folks might at that point call it "art".

OK.  Now take three basketballs and put them in an aquarium half-filled with water.  Is it art?

If you're Jeff Koons, the con  artist who thought of it, or better yet the insanely rich guy who bought it, why yes it is!!

I have three words for this:




I can't for the life of me figure out what's more laughable;  Thinking this is a viable piece of art, or actually spending money to own it?  (Full disclosure:  If someone wants to hand me a boat load of money for a painting, I would not turn them away!)

Now, if you want one of these masterpieces, you can buy one at auction.  One went for $244,000.00.  A steal!  Or... You could go to WalMart, buy three basketballs and an aquarium and make it yourself, and no one would be the wiser...   You're welcome.

I can't help it.  I've tried to be open minded.  Really.  I've forced myself to never say out loud what I think constitutes art because who the hell am I to say?  Have I ever created a masterpiece?  Have there been books published about my paintings?  Do I sell for millions of dollars?  No.  No.  And No.  But I have an opinion.  And at the risk of offending anyone, this is my definition as to what constitutes talent and art.

First-- One of the paintings below was done by a chimp, the other by a human.

Can't tell?

Rule one:  If a chimp or any animal that can grab a brush can duplicate a humans effort-- It's not art.

Rule two:  (And this one is touchy, I admit) If  what comes out on canvas is the result of pure chance based on no preconceived thought-- You know, paint splatters, hitting colored golf balls onto a canvas, etc.,  it doesn't show talent.  It is not art. 

Simple really.  And it still leaves a whole wide range of what I would call art.

Oh, last rule--

If you're name is Jeff Koons.

It ain't art. 



Karla said...

OK. Which one did the chimp do?

Kay said...

a few years ago I wrote a paper for an art history assignment. Our Yale trained teacher thought that Koons and his ilk were fabulous artists. Of course this teacher said and I quote" art isn't about the art or the is about the idea"
Oh yeah..that made sense. I raised my hand and as I am sometimes brutally honest..I earned being a crabby old woman..I reminded him that he would not have this job if there were only ideas and no artists. DUH..and the paper I wrote skewered the Koons and Hirsts of the trendy art scene. I told him that these "artists" were having a good laugh on you art historians, curators and collectors by spewing this crap on the scene. Their inside joke is they have pulled the wool over the eyes of the wannabees.
Now don't get me wrong.I love a good abstract, I love primitive and even minimalist art. There can be a fine line to what the chimp does and the artist does. But the Koons basketballs? Not art.

n2w said...

I feel the same way about this abstract stuff. But I think there are some really overrated realists too. I think if a painting is technically good, it's not necessarily art, either.

Kevin Mizner said...

Karla-- The chimp did the masterpiece on the right.

Kevin Mizner said...

Kay-- There are some abstract paintings I admire too. Usually they were done in the first half of the twentieth century by classically trained artists who still knew how to paint.

Kevin Mizner said...

n2w-- There is Good Art and Bad Art (hell, my own work can fall into either catagory), but I was just giving my definition for Not Art.

MCGuilmet said...

Kevin, what is the list of specific objective criteria that you feel a work of art must contain in order to be considered a work of art?

Stephanie Berry said...

Did you hear the one about the artist who canned his own excrement and sold that as art--then the can leaked. It sold for some fabulous amount. True story! Some folks just have no taste...

Susan Roux said...

How did I miss this post? I remember posting strips of bacon that took first place in a juried exhibition. Actual strips of bacon were brushed with paint then pressed on the paper, much like the potato prints I did with my kids when they were young. Best in show.

Some of us take this stuff seriously. Hopefully all of our hard work will lead us somewhere. I can't believe this garbage they fool the public as art will last much longer. I mean haven't they figured it out yet? If they can duplicate it at home, why pay for it?

I totally relate to your frustration.

MCGuilmet said...

Stephanie, there are some who believe what Piero Manzoni was really trying to do was replicate the secret recipe for Moxie.

Stephanie Berry said...

McGuilmet--Gee Moxie is mighty popular around here. There's even a Moxie Festival every year in Lisbon Falls. Of course we never see anyone consume it.

Anonymous said...

Art moves in along in a continuous narrative, always moving and changing. The art of today engages in different ways than the art of yesterday, just as the art of tomorrow will engage in different ways to the art of today.

A chimp could make an abstract painting, a camera could make a hyper realist painting, and 'anyone' could make the Koons basketball sculpture. Who cares...