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Monday, October 1, 2012

When is art not art?

I have a question for you and hope you will leave a comment on your thoughts on this topic.

I subscribe to The Artist Magazine and was reading my November issue and in the letters to the editor there was a letter with multiple writers who were offended at some particularly graphic nude art in the July/August issue.  The women all said they were artists and were not offended at tasteful nudes but these were either grotesque or too graphic.  The magazine responded with a statement along the lines of just because it makes you uncomfortable doesn’t mean the artist didn’t work hard on the pieces and they were still art and should be seen.

My thought on this particular subject were, they may be art to the artist and to others, but they aren’t anything I would buy or want hanging in my home or office.  So then the question becomes, do I want to subscribe to a magazine that publishes material like that expecting me to believe it is art.

If someone says something is art is it art?  Is it art because I say it is and if not, what makes something art?

I’m not sure I know the answer to this question. 

I remember the Maplethorpe Exhibition that was seen in Cincinnati years ago and the uprising it caused.  Is it art just because I say it is?

To me, art like great music should be uplifting, stirring and inspiring.  To me, it should bring out the best in me, not the most base emotions.  I don’t know what you call something that brings out the worst in someone, but for me, it isn’t art.

Is there another category for art, that to me, isn’t art? 

Just a little bit of calm quiet art from me.

Please comment and let me know what you think.

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  1. I have to agree that art to me is something that stirs within me inspiration and feeling beauty. It makes me think of happy times and events and brings peace to my inner soul. It is something that draws me to another level of appreciating the world around me. It does not always remove all pain but heightens my awareness to efforts to survive and exist. Hummmm did that make sense??? Art makes me think and learn. I love seeing the art work that you share. Thanks, it reminds me so much of the beauty of Kentucky!

  2. Thanks Effie. I'm glad to help you remember KY. I share with you the feelings of what art is or should do. I'm not certain why we accept the notion that because someone says it's art it is art. To me some things just aren't art.

  3. A tough subject isn't it? So many things are considered art. For myself it does need to stir something in me. A scene that touches me or a still life of objects I like, even an abstract of wonderful colors and texture though I am not a great fan of abstract art. If something is well painted I can really appreciate that, wonderful edges for example. I personally know a few artists that are very talented but choose to paint extremely weird subjects, an example is a painting with their head cut off?? I don't understand why you would waste your talent that way and does anyone buy that type art. Art is so subjective it can be frustrating as a traditional artist wondering what do people want??? Sorry that was long winded. We'll just keep doing what we love. Happy painting Sharon

  4. Thanks so much Barb. I agree. We will keep doing what we do and love. I just find it interesting that we as artists and others keep listening to "experts" tell us what art is. Sometimes it seems as though some of the "experts" opinions of what art is, belongs more in horror and porn than art. I love all the things you cited Barb, and I'm not a big abstract fan, but I love the colors, the layers, the movement. Thanks again Barb, for contributing.


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Ghent, Kentucky, United States
I'm a nature artist and I love to paint old barns, rivers and lakes, trees and fence rows and flowers. I work almost daily. You can purchase paintings by contacting me at and there is also a tab across the top of my blog for available paintings and one for small paintings with buy now buttons. You can also purchase through my Etsy shop using the name of Fine Nature Art. . Thank you so much for stopping by.