Oct 24, 2013

Posted by in Essays | 0 Comments

“What is Art” – English 1A – Midterm Essay

Assignment – 

Write an essay in which you define what art is (in your own words) – what elements combine that allow us to call something a work of “art”. Then engage briefly with Tolstoy and Bloom – does your definition of art agree or deviate from theirs? What (if anything) do they miss in their analysis? Finally (and this should be the larger part of the essay), discuss the standards you use (or don’t use) for labeling artistic endeavors “good” or “bad”. Whence does the standard originate by which you judge art on those terms? Does a preference for one kind of “art” implicate someone morally (i.e., bad people like bad art? or not?

Score: 50/50

Notes: “Excellent”


Art, to me, is the product of creativity and the act of making. This could be something visual or auditory, it could even be something you eat. Art is nearly limitless in its definition as long as someone (the artist) considers it to be so.

Though I would be more inclined to agree with Bloom’s (and Dutton’s) perception of art, and agree very little with Tolstoy, I am so greatly rooted in the belief that art is completely objective I find it difficult to see their points.

Tolstoy and Blume agree that what matters is where art came from and its intention. For Tolstoy that means a connection with the artist (and if there is no connection then it is not art), and for Bloom it means significance in the origination of the art; the exact duplicate is not worth the original because there was no performance of creativity involved.

I do not judge art by these standards, or I do not, at the very least, believe there to be “good” or “bad” art. There is art that I do nor do not enjoy or don’t understand, but that doesn’t not intrinsically devalue it. The subjectivity of art means that as little as I like or understand something, there is someone else who enjoys it greatly. Oftentimes “modern” art is disparaged because of its seeming simplicity; you will hear people say “I could have done that!” However for the artist (in most cases) there is a great thought or effort put into a piece. For them, this piece is the result of their creativity. Beyond that there is also validation when others are able to connect to, or enjoy, the product. Do not misunderstand though, the art does not require an observer or appreciator in order to be; the art already is by sheer effort.

Since the nature of “good” or “bad” art is subjective, it is impossible to judge ones morality purely on their artistic taste. Hitler enjoyed paintings from the Renaissance, not child pornography* where as I know some lovely individuals who collect splatter paintings made from blood; one cannot draw a direct corollary between taste and nature. I believe that to do so would be short sighted and denying art’s individuality.

The products of artistic expression are constantly growing and expanding as more and more artists continue to be creative. They discover new mediums and tools for their expression and birth new creations. Other artists are able to then nurture, foster, and bring life to the new forms.

Art, though subjectively received is an even greater collaboration among the artist of the world. Our perception of the products of their souls does not change what it, and they, are.

*I have approximate knowledge of many things.

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