Daily Archives: August 13, 2011

Sideband #33: Confessions of a Jerk

In this morning’s article, I tried to explain my way of answering a question that may not be objectively answerable. I intend at least one more article along this path as I attempt to apply my answer to various kinds of art or not-art. That will come later, but considering the question brought to mind a discussion I had long ago with someone. The long and short of it is that (a) I was a jerk and (b) I was wrong. Completely wrong.

It’s funny how things stick with you. A single conversation held roughly three decades ago remains a focal point in my thoughts (albeit not a huge one). I remember where I was sitting; I remember where he was sitting. That’s actually saying something, as my memory for past events is infamously awful. Maybe it was the weight of the error never fully acknowledged that gives it such sticking power. If so, perhaps this semi-public confession will redress matters.

My culpa was to accuse a friend, whose life and work was art, of not being an artist.

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What is Art?

An old and challenging question is, “What is art?” The question is probably as old as art and artists; the moment someone made a cave painting, someone else probably asked, “But is it art?”

It’s possible the question cannot be answered in any objective way; we may each have a personal definition of art. Here are some of my thoughts on the matter.

First, there are (at least) three distinct questions one might ask regarding art:

  1. Is it art?
  2. Is it good art?
  3. Do I like it?

This essay is strictly about the first question. Critical review (whether a piece of Art is good) and taste (whether you like it) are separate matters.

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