What makes art Good

Use this forum to have philosophical discussions about aesthetics and art. What is art? What is beauty? What makes art good? You can also use this forum to discuss philosophy in the arts, namely to discuss the philosophical points in any particular movie, TV show, book or story.
User avatar
Present awareness
Posts: 1255
Joined: February 3rd, 2014, 7:02 pm

Re: What makes art Good

Post by Present awareness » May 12th, 2014, 5:09 pm

'm a little disappointed. I was hoping the topic was "What makes art Good." Instead it's just another "what is art" argument. Ah well...
To ask, what makes art "good", is like asking " what makes anything good"? In my opinion, whatever we consider to be good or bad, is entirely subjective. It all comes down to what we personally like, or dislike.
Even though you can see me, I might not be here.

User avatar
3uGH7D4MLj
Posts: 919
Joined: January 4th, 2013, 3:39 pm

Re: What makes art Good

Post by 3uGH7D4MLj » May 12th, 2014, 9:03 pm

Present awareness wrote:
'm a little disappointed. I was hoping the topic was "What makes art Good." Instead it's just another "what is art" argument. Ah well...
To ask, what makes art "good", is like asking " what makes anything good"? In my opinion, whatever we consider to be good or bad, is entirely subjective. It all comes down to what we personally like, or dislike.
Agreed. I thought for a moment this might be a topic about that. But I think that what makes art good would be a bit different from what makes wine good, or a friendship good, or a toaster.
fair to say

User avatar
Present awareness
Posts: 1255
Joined: February 3rd, 2014, 7:02 pm

Re: What makes art Good

Post by Present awareness » May 12th, 2014, 9:54 pm

Agreed. I thought for a moment this might be a topic about that. But I think that what makes art good would be a bit different from what makes wine good, or a friendship good, or a toaster.
Yes, this is true. There are good flavours, good emotions (like friendship) good sights etc. even good appliances or cars! Whatever we experience as good, is good for us. It may not be good for someone else, but that doesn't matter. We may only know what we like, as opposed to other people, because we are in direct contact with ourselves. When it comes to art or music, good art is that which we can relate to.
Even though you can see me, I might not be here.

User avatar
3uGH7D4MLj
Posts: 919
Joined: January 4th, 2013, 3:39 pm

Re: What makes art Good

Post by 3uGH7D4MLj » May 13th, 2014, 9:01 am

Present awareness wrote:
Agreed. I thought for a moment this might be a topic about that. But I think that what makes art good would be a bit different from what makes wine good, or a friendship good, or a toaster.
Yes, this is true. There are good flavours, good emotions (like friendship) good sights etc. even good appliances or cars! Whatever we experience as good, is good for us. It may not be good for someone else, but that doesn't matter. We may only know what we like, as opposed to other people, because we are in direct contact with ourselves. When it comes to art or music, good art is that which we can relate to.
Yah, it's subjective, but we're all humans, we share that, and we share a lot of cultural inputs and assumptions. Art response is subjective but there's similarity in the response, we're not each starting from zero. For me that's the way art works, and it would be fun to talk about that.
fair to say

User avatar
Hereandnow
Posts: 1696
Joined: July 11th, 2012, 9:16 pm
Favorite Philosopher: the moon and the stars

Re: What makes art Good

Post by Hereandnow » December 2nd, 2015, 11:04 am

What makes art good? significant form that elicits aesthetic rapture. Of course,'aesthetic rapture' needs work, but 'significant form' i would abide by. Art is significant form that elicits an aesthetic response in the spectator. The better the form, the better the art.

Belinda
Contributor
Posts: 13760
Joined: July 10th, 2008, 7:02 pm
Location: UK

Re: What makes art Good

Post by Belinda » December 2nd, 2015, 12:34 pm

What makes art good? My vote goes to truthfulness on the part of the maker. The more the truth the better the work of art.
Socialist

User avatar
Greta
Site Admin
Posts: 6984
Joined: December 16th, 2013, 9:05 pm

Re: What makes art Good

Post by Greta » December 2nd, 2015, 7:53 pm

I can think of a few two types of "good":

1) From mastery

2) From intensity

3) From compatibility.

Any more?
This space left intentionally blank.

User avatar
3uGH7D4MLj
Posts: 919
Joined: January 4th, 2013, 3:39 pm

Re: What makes art Good

Post by 3uGH7D4MLj » December 3rd, 2015, 10:39 am

Hereandnow wrote:What makes art good? significant form that elicits aesthetic rapture. Of course,'aesthetic rapture' needs work, but 'significant form' i would abide by. Art is significant form that elicits an aesthetic response in the spectator. The better the form, the better the art.
So, how do you mean form? There are a few different ways that the word form has been used regarding art, then there's Greenbergian formalism.

Significant is an evaluation, no? Some kind of absolute valuing system?

-- Updated December 3rd, 2015, 9:44 am to add the following --
Belinda wrote:What makes art good? My vote goes to truthfulness on the part of the maker. The more the truth the better the work of art.
Is truth something that is determined by the maker? If truth exists, isn't it something that stands outside the maker? Or is it the same as sincerity?

-- Updated December 3rd, 2015, 10:01 am to add the following --
Greta wrote:I can think of a few two types of "good":

1) From mastery

2) From intensity

3) From compatibility.

Any more?
This idea works pretty well in my opinion. There are many ways an artwork can be good. Maybe I would say, many reasons for liking a work of art. "Good" assumes an agreed upon evaluating system, and I can always find an example of an artwork which doesn't fit with any given attribute. So although any artwork can be said to be good for one reason or another, there is no common attribute that is required for "good"ness.

-- Updated December 3rd, 2015, 10:07 am to add the following --
3uGH7D4MLj wrote:Yah, it's subjective, but we're all humans, we share that, and we share a lot of cultural inputs and assumptions. Art response is subjective but there's similarity in the response, we're not each starting from zero. For me that's the way art works, and it would be fun to talk about that.
And yet, here has to be something shared between us humans. Or else art would be a completely arbitrary mess.
fair to say

Belinda
Contributor
Posts: 13760
Joined: July 10th, 2008, 7:02 pm
Location: UK

Re: What makes art Good

Post by Belinda » December 3rd, 2015, 3:44 pm

3uGH7D4MLj wrote:
Is truth something that is determined by the maker? If truth exists, isn't it something that stands outside the maker? Or is it the same as sincerity?
Truth is determined by the maker, because it is, as you suggest , the same as sincerity. For sincere intentions to be fulfilled as art the intentions have to be ameliorated by sufficient adroitness in gauging what others need, and also by kindly intentions towards the spectators. By "kindly" I don't mean sentimental or superficial. I mean kindly in the sense of doing a lot of work for the spectators with the intention that they will be enriched by what the artist does. I think this covers what many of us find incomprehensible about post modern art.
Socialist

User avatar
Greta
Site Admin
Posts: 6984
Joined: December 16th, 2013, 9:05 pm

Re: What makes art Good

Post by Greta » December 3rd, 2015, 8:06 pm

Hereandnow wrote:What makes art good? significant form that elicits aesthetic rapture. Of course,'aesthetic rapture' needs work, but 'significant form' i would abide by. Art is significant form that elicits an aesthetic response in the spectator. The better the form, the better the art.
3uGH7D4MLj wrote:So, how do you mean form? There are a few different ways that the word form has been used regarding art, then there's Greenbergian formalism.
An example might make it clearer. There are bands I have seen who would delight and amaze all but the most blinkered - they are that good. There is not much subjectivity to it - true, deep quality shows, and is felt. Then get some two-bit club band on the same stage. They cannot conjure anywhere near the same experience, although they may appeal more to a minority with whom they resonate. Or if the club band is especially passionate (as per Belinda's truthfulness angle) then they will make more of an impact.

The quality will be recognised amongst an unusually high percentage of peers, critics and audiences alike. All views tend to be valued but peer review is most usually considered the gold standard. While not perfect, being subject to groupthink, peer review is as close to we have to objective appraisal.
Belinda wrote:Truth is determined by the maker, because it is, as you suggest , the same as sincerity. For sincere intentions to be fulfilled as art the intentions have to be ameliorated by sufficient adroitness in gauging what others need, and also by kindly intentions towards the spectators. By "kindly" I don't mean sentimental or superficial. I mean kindly in the sense of doing a lot of work for the spectators with the intention that they will be enriched by what the artist does. I think this covers what many of us find incomprehensible about post modern art.
Yes, sincerity and passion. A love of what you're doing, be it in mainstream or fringe art.
I can think of a few types of "good":

1) From mastery
2) From intensity
3) From compatibility.
This idea works pretty well in my opinion. There are many ways an artwork can be good. Maybe I would say, many reasons for liking a work of art. "Good" assumes an agreed upon evaluating system, and I can always find an example of an artwork which doesn't fit with any given attribute. So although any artwork can be said to be good for one reason or another, there is no common attribute that is required for "good"ness.[/quote]
As a musician, I'll approach this from a musical angle.

I agree with you. In music I enjoy anything from Pat Metheny to White Stripes. On drum forums there is always a great deal of controversy about Meg White, the drummer in the White Stripes duo, masterminded by her exceptionally talented ex-husband, Jack White. At the time the pair wanted to apply a De Stijl style minimalism approach to rock music, drawing inspiration from garage rock and punk rock groups of the past. To this end, Jack wanted Meg to never practice or take lessons so she would always be at beginner level. He didn't want her learning the licks and tricks that almost all drummers pick up.

Unsurprisingly, many in the drum community were frustrated and annoyed that a drummer (and a woman at that!) who was only capable of playing the simplest lines had become famous and wealthy. Why should she perform dream gigs to huge audiences while those who had had paid their dues for decades around the traps, with lessons, practice, dedication and passion - are only playing low rent club dates? Talent unrecognised, ignored, unwanted. So it goes.

However, others (like me) simply enjoyed the band's music and concept. I admit to some solidarity of womanhood here, but Meg's enforced minimalism did create more space than is usual and it often had a pleasing effect to my ear, in much the same way as a Mondrian piece does.

Still, there are limits to postmodernism. I can enjoy The Shagg's My Pal Foot Foot or Sid Vicious's cover of My Way as much as any other twisted soul but one song from either in a sitting would be my limit and, I expect, that would be the case for many. There are standards and levels, but they are multilayered (eg. genre, functionality) and not clearly defined.
This space left intentionally blank.

User avatar
Hereandnow
Posts: 1696
Joined: July 11th, 2012, 9:16 pm
Favorite Philosopher: the moon and the stars

Re: What makes art Good

Post by Hereandnow » December 3rd, 2015, 8:58 pm

3uGH7D4MLj: So, how do you mean form? There are a few different ways that the word form has been used regarding art, then there's Greenbergian formalism.

Significant is an evaluation, no? Some kind of absolute valuing system?
Actually I was reaching a little further back to a little book called "Art" by Clive Bell: Art is significant form. What does significant mean>? Simple: it's the form that elicits aesthetic rapture. How do you define aesthetic rapture? It's what is elicited by significant form.

I am a formalist, myself, but one has to modernize, or, postmodernize, Bell's thinking. E.g., can conceptual art be analyzed in terms of significant form? What constitutes a form? and so on.

-- Updated December 3rd, 2015, 8:59 pm to add the following --



-- Updated December 3rd, 2015, 9:14 pm to add the following --
Greta: as per Belinda's truthfulness angle
Truthfulness, meaning authentic, genuine, or maybe better, natural in that it is one's natural ability to aesthetically respond. It's the thrill itself that decides. One must learn to obey nature. That is, experience its spontaneity, before one can master it.
The quality will be recognised amongst an unusually high percentage of peers, critics and audiences alike. All views tend to be valued but peer review is most usually considered the gold standard. While not perfect, being subject to groupthink, peer review is as close to we have to objective appraisal.
Interesting how music seems a simpler matter than other art forms. Perhaps it is because music has almost no representational aspect that we know when we've nailed it so intuitively. Peer review in the visual arts is, I think, even more important. Some say that the Artworld IS what critiques say it is.

-- Updated December 3rd, 2015, 9:25 pm to add the following --

Had to listen to The Shagg's My Pal Foot Foot on youtube to get a foothold. Yes, there are standards and levels and you simply cannot know something like this from the outside looking in....as i am apparently.

User avatar
Greta
Site Admin
Posts: 6984
Joined: December 16th, 2013, 9:05 pm

Re: What makes art Good

Post by Greta » December 3rd, 2015, 11:31 pm

Hereandnow wrote:I am a formalist, myself, but one has to modernize, or, postmodernize, Bell's thinking. E.g., can conceptual art be analyzed in terms of significant form? What constitutes a form? and so on.
Conceptual art carries its own abstract form, often unrelated to the physical form. A simple example would be a Bob Dylan solo ballad (sorry, another musical example, but it's what I know). Superficially at the song's base level we'll have tuneless hominid noises of harsh timbre set in simple stanzas over a strummed guitar. The form here lies in the lyrical meaning, with tension between the sophistication of the lyric and weak visceral and intellectual appeal of the music. Rhyming editorials with backing. Rap without the funk.
Hereandnow wrote:Truthfulness, meaning authentic, genuine, or maybe better, natural in that it is one's natural ability to aesthetically respond. It's the thrill itself that decides. One must learn to obey nature. That is, experience its spontaneity, before one can master it.
At a simple level, we may compare the appeal of a politician smoothly spruiking slogans, an everyman speaking haltingly about the loss of his family, a preacher and a friend sharing her thoughts on life. Technically, the politician and evangelist are the better speakers and thus can provide a reliably "professional" performance, but all they tend to offer are recycled and rebadged platitudes.
Hereandnow wrote:Interesting how music seems a simpler matter than other art forms. Perhaps it is because music has almost no representational aspect that we know when we've nailed it so intuitively. Peer review in the visual arts is, I think, even more important. Some say that the Artworld IS what critiques say it is.
Maybe it's the relationship with time? Music is ephemeral, slipping by and not as readily grasped as physical art than can be easily analysed and disssected.
Hereandnow wrote:Had to listen to The Shagg's My Pal Foot Foot on youtube to get a foothold. Yes, there are standards and levels and you simply cannot know something like this from the outside looking in....as i am apparently.
The back story is better than the music (which is obviously not hard):
The saga of the Shaggs began with their paternal grandmother, a psychic who saw the destiny of the group in a palm reading that she did for her young son, Austin Wiggin, Jr. The woman predicted that Austin would marry a strawberry blonde, that they would have two sons whom she would not live to see, and that the Wiggin girls would form a band that would make them famous. When the first two prophecies came true, Austin devoted his life to making the third a reality ...

After noting the success of the Beatles, Austin Wiggin decided that the time had come for his mother's prophecy to be fulfilled. In 1967, he pulled his daughters out of school, enrolled them in correspondence courses, bought them instruments, assigned them roles in the band, and signed them up for music and voice lessons. Their father set up a rigid schedule for the new group, which he named the Shaggs after a then-popular sheepdog-like hair style. The girls, who had a minimal social life, studied and rehearsed in the morning, played more music in the afternoon, and did calisthenics before finishing their day with another rehearsal.

... Austin convinced Fremont administrators to allow the Shaggs to become the house band for Saturday night dances at the local town hall.

Over a hundred kids—nearly all of the teenagers in Fremont—usually attended these events. Some would dance, while others would heckle the Shaggs and pelt them with trash. Finally, Austin Wiggin felt that his children were ready to make a record. He booked studio time at Fleetwood Studios in Revere, Massachusetts in March of 1969. When the studio engineer heard the Shaggs rehearse, he told Austin that they were not ready for professional recording. Austin replied that he wanted to get them while they were hot.
As fate had it, the band was deemed "so bad they were good" and so they weirdly fulfilled the grandmother's prophesy. Ttheir first album was called "Philosophy of the World" :)
This space left intentionally blank.

Belinda
Contributor
Posts: 13760
Joined: July 10th, 2008, 7:02 pm
Location: UK

Re: What makes art Good

Post by Belinda » December 4th, 2015, 6:31 am

Greta wrote, regarding what I'd call spontaneity :
At a simple level, we may compare the appeal of a politician smoothly spruiking slogans, an everyman speaking haltingly about the loss of his family, a preacher and a friend sharing her thoughts on life. Technically, the politician and evangelist are the better speakers and thus can provide a reliably "professional" performance, but all they tend to offer are recycled and rebadged platitudes.
Yes, but spontaneity and vicarious experiences are not mutually exclusive. The politician and the evangelist might have themselves experienced the feelings.

A related question : cannot art teach and warn so that the experientially ignorant get inducted into the experiencer's feelings?
Socialist

User avatar
Hereandnow
Posts: 1696
Joined: July 11th, 2012, 9:16 pm
Favorite Philosopher: the moon and the stars

Re: What makes art Good

Post by Hereandnow » December 4th, 2015, 8:32 am

Greta: Conceptual art carries its own abstract form, often unrelated to the physical form. A simple example would be a Bob Dylan solo ballad (sorry, another musical example, but it's what I know). Superficially at the song's base level we'll have tuneless hominid noises of harsh timbre set in simple stanzas over a strummed guitar. The form here lies in the lyrical meaning, with tension between the sophistication of the lyric and weak visceral and intellectual appeal of the music. Rhyming editorials with backing. Rap without the funk.
You're entering fascinating territory here. Your extension of the formalist concept, that is. Note how further is played in your (our) own preestablished historical cultural concepts about how those harsher, visceral sounds actually conflict with the meaning of Dylan's lyrics. We are always already in possession of an interpretative set of values and out of this comes the new aesthetic. That is, given the body of musical "knowledge" we had prior to taking on Dylan, the long history of tonality, classical nuance and control, and then the relatively unrefined manner of the folk song, we don't expect anything in the way of deep insight, but we get it (I would argue), and in that the is what you might call a cognitive dissonance, i.e., the novel conceptual form of a postmodernized formalism. This fits well with the postmodern claim that language's concepts are not stand alone meanings, but require difference within a field of coherence. Meaning is all about (though not exclusively, of course) difference.
At a simple level, we may compare the appeal of a politician smoothly spruiking slogans, an everyman speaking haltingly about the loss of his family, a preacher and a friend sharing her thoughts on life. Technically, the politician and evangelist are the better speakers and thus can provide a reliably "professional" performance, but all they tend to offer are recycled and rebadged platitudes.
Compelling speculation about which came first, the rhetorical flourishes or the music. Music could have evolved out of a social evolutionary context in which the need for catharsis (as well as a robust pronouncement of well being) rose to expression which produced a fetishized love for tonality. After all, we really don't have a good theory for an evolutionary psychology for aesthetics.
Maybe it's the relationship with time? Music is ephemeral, slipping by and not as readily grasped as physical art than can be easily analysed and disssected.
Good point. Unlike visual art which stays put, or seemingly. And more, music does not have that symbolic or representational component. Maybe Wagner's sleigh bells, I heard, are clearly representational, but it's hard to find much that music "says" in the way a painted house is clearly a house.
As fate had it, the band was deemed "so bad they were good" and so they weirdly fulfilled the grandmother's prophesy. Ttheir first album was called "Philosophy of the World" :)

Love happy endings, especially when the marginalized stick it to the establishment. And as to being so bad that yourr good, I am reminded of Beethoven's poor hearing and how in his last sonatas critics thought his deafness was affecting his musical thinking. Little did they know.

User avatar
Greta
Site Admin
Posts: 6984
Joined: December 16th, 2013, 9:05 pm

Re: What makes art Good

Post by Greta » December 4th, 2015, 5:32 pm

Belinda wrote:Greta wrote, regarding what I'd call spontaneity :
At a simple level, we may compare the appeal of a politician smoothly spruiking slogans, an everyman speaking haltingly about the loss of his family, a preacher and a friend sharing her thoughts on life. Technically, the politician and evangelist are the better speakers and thus can provide a reliably "professional" performance, but all they tend to offer are recycled and rebadged platitudes.
Yes, but spontaneity and vicarious experiences are not mutually exclusive. The politician and the evangelist might have themselves experienced the feelings.
I'm speaking of the genuinely insincere performances - the cynical lies of politicians focused on personal ambition and the proclamations that money is needed for God (please send all donations to PO Box 555). In terms of form and content, you'd say their form is good but the content is lacking.
Belinda wrote:A related question : cannot art teach and warn so that the experientially ignorant get inducted into the experiencer's feelings?
How can we know for sure, given that we can only know our own experience? I may have been brought somewhat into an artist's experience but, if it did, it happened without my knowing (like subliminal advertising).

-- Updated 04 Dec 2015, 16:33 to add the following --

Pardon grammar issue in the last para. I would have edited ...
This space left intentionally blank.

Post Reply