Definition of Art…The Theoretical Standpoint!

Note: This is the first post in a two-post series. Read “Definition of Art…The Practical Standpoint” here.

What is Art?

This is a question that will result in a different answer each time someone tried to answer it – and this itself is one the core characteristics of art.

The Definition of Art

My Definition of Art would be:

Art is an expression of the creator’s imagination, presented through a form that generates an emotional or cognitive value for people by opening itself to multiple interpretations.

Definition of Art Explained

Let me explain this definition.

Art is an expression: Art has to be expressed in some form. An idea in the head of the artist isn’t art – to be considered as art it needs to be expressed in a form that allows it to reach people. The form could be visual, written, or even performed.

…of the creator’s imagination: The expression should involve imagination. (View Salvador Dali’s Gallery here.) The imagination component would manifest itself in the selection of colors, the composition of an artwork, the sequencing and presentation of content, or even the moves of a dancer.

…presented through a form that generates an emotional or cognitive value for people: Art has to be presented through a form that generates value for people, or it isn’t art. An expression of imagination that revolts people can’t be called art – unless the revulsion is interpreted as value by someone…then for that person, it could be art. (Read about “Artist’s Shit” by Piero Manzoni here.)  Something that generates absolutely no emotional or cognitive response too can’t be called art.

…by opening itself to multiple interpretations: Art leads to multiple interpretations. Something that is interpreted in exactly the same way by everyone isn’t art. It may have a lot of functional utility though, for instance, the letters of the alphabet or the numbers 0 to 9 have their unique interpretations, and they don’t qualify as art.

However, if someone takes one of these numbers (or all these numbers) and expresses it in a manner that the expression generates an emotive or cognitive response from people and results in a personal interpretation for everyone…then the expression would qualify as art. (Refer to Robert Indiana’s Works.)

Note that I don’t speak of good art, bad art, or even popular art here. I am merely trying to define art by stringing all its components logically.

An Example of Art Analyzed!

Let me now review Mona Lisa, the most famous “artwork” in history, against this definition.

Mona Lisa is an expression of  Leonardo da Vinci’s imagination (note that though it’s a portrait – yet it goes beyond just a photographic depiction), presented through a form that generates an emotional or cognitive value for people (through the form and content of the painting,) for people by opening itself to multiple interpretations. (The curiosity that Monalisa arouses through her mysterious expression, her almost androgynous face, her clothes, her lack of jewelery, and even her background – leads a viewer to his/her own interpretation of the painting, which in fact is the emotional/cognitive value.)

More Definitions of Art:

Find more definitions of art at the following links:

Well…

that was an academic-looking post, wasn’t it?

Await the next installment, “Definition of Art…The Practical Standpoint!” for a more humorous take 🙂 – Published:) Read “Definition of Art…The Practical Standpoint” here.

Advertisements

Art Philosophy – The 4 Types of Artists – Classification and Explanation

Once again, a personal post for friends old and new. Others who’ve reached this blog through searches/recommendations might be more interested in the Caricatures Gallery, the Story-in-the-Caricature Blog Carnival, or the book “How to Draw Caricatures – The Evolution of a Caricaturist.”  You are welcome to click the respective links and explore the site. You are also welcome to read this post, if  you have the patience:)

On December 11 2010, this blog completed its first year, and the funny part of the whole deal was that I forgot, and I didn’t make a post. Now if this isn’t a sure sign of dementia setting in – what is? But seriously, I am bad with remembering dates. I don’t know when but somewhere in my journey of art, I learned to present my forgetfulness as a trait common in artists. I realized that people suddenly became more forgiving when they realized that I could draw and paint too. Guess they thought to themselves – we’ve got to carry those artist types around – because who knows one of them might turn out to be a Da Vinci, a Van Gogh, or a Picasso!

Personally, I’d want to be Da Vinci or die unknown. (If I sound like I am suffering from megalomania, please put it down to my being an artist.)

But…am I really an artist?
I mean what makes you an artist?
And…if you are an artist what kind of artist are you?!

Well. There are the following types of artists (and I speak of artists not artistes!)

  1. The Starving Struggling Artist
  2. The Made-in-his-Lifetime Artist
  3. The Posthumously Great Artist
  4. The Richie Rich Artist

The Starving Struggling Artist or the SS Artist!

This is the most commonly found species of artists in the world. The Starving Struggling Artist is characterized by his impractical dream of making it big without paying attention to the theory of probability (which obviously he can’t as he’s shied away from Mathematics and Logic all his life.)  I ask the left-brained readers, if about 100 artists have made it big from a pool of 500 million (approximately) what is the chance of a random artist making it big? What would your answer be? Come on. Be honest. Tell us.

In my opinion, this kind of artist is worse-off than the unfortunates who walked the streets of London during the time of Jack the Ripper!

The Made-in-his-Lifetime Artist or the ML Artist

This artist is that 1-in-5 Million artist who we talked about earlier. The Made in his Lifetime artist is either smart enough to know what’d really catch the fancy of the buyers or who is lucky enough to display the right thing at the right place at the right time to the right audience. Note that you seldom come across this kind of artist. They are conspicuous by their near-absence.

The Posthumously Great Artist or the PG Artist

You know this kind – don’t you? The best example of course is Van Gogh. Remember that he was once a Starving Struggling Artist who went crazy and chopped off his own ear. Van Gogh created work that Da Vinci wouldn’t have allowed in his studio – yet after his death, he managed to become famous! Now to be a Posthumously Great Artist you need to be able to pull some strings up there. It’s my belief that most of the Starving Struggling Variety of artists have a pure heart and so they end up in heaven – but I also think that up there, they continue being their non-diplomatic selves lost in their own dreams of making it big in their next life – and so they don’t pull the right strings. Hence they don’t become posthumously famous. The point to note it – if the artist has a family and a couple of good-for-nothings, then such posthumous fame can come in handy…otherwise, it’s all wasted effort!

The Richie Rich Artist or the RR Artist

When you are born with either a silver spoon in your mouth or a strong social network through your parents’/spouses’ connections, then you are a Richie Rich artist. Then you don’t really need talent to become famous. Such people become artists because they’ve got to do something with their time – and there’s really nothing that they “need” to do. You can teach your dog to pick up the brush and color the canvas – and you’d have a masterpiece selling for a million dollars! Then of course, you can take the limelight away from your dog and bask in it, as you pose in front of the canvas. This of course is a very common way of achieving some degree of fame, which isn’t all that bad – right?

So am I an artist?
I don’t fit into any of the above – and so I am not an artist. But the good news is, there’s no law against people calling themselves artists, and there’s no law against blowing your own trumpet (whatever that means) – and so…even though I may not be a starving struggler, an unbelievably lucky person, a dead artist with god on her side, or even a well-connected rich kid – I still have the right to say that I am an artist.

And being what I am, one day I might wake up and exercise that right – just like that…and again put my quirkiness down to my being artist!

The Megalomaniac speaks again…
If you can determine where I contradicted myself, you’ve won yourself an opportunity to write a guest post on my blog:-)