What is Art?

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.
Post Reply
Jklint
Posts: 1584
Joined: February 23rd, 2012, 3:06 am

Re: What is Art?

Post by Jklint » April 11th, 2020, 1:10 am

Count Lucanor wrote:
April 10th, 2020, 10:22 pm
Jklint wrote:
April 10th, 2020, 6:53 pm


The skill of representation whether it be in sound, sight or words to whatever point it may strive or be capable of. Without imagination and the ability to render it, art wouldn't exist. I think we can agree on that. Art is a fusion of imagination and ability externalizing what is initially subjective into the objective. After that it's the consensus of each generation which gives it its value...more or less. Also, "acts of necessity" are limited by it's nature. Art has no such limitation.
Now we're getting closer. In the ancient world, the difference between art and technique was almost nonexistent, and so there was the art of hunting, of war, of making swords, etc.
Yes, but when you say there was the art of hunting, of war, of making swords, the word art is used in a different sense as an activity to which learned skill has been applied. Art as examined in this thread has a different connotation, one more specialized. Art in that sense cannot be used in just any context as an "art of" this or that denoting a simple measure of skill.

Also when you say In the ancient world, the difference between art and technique was almost nonexistent, I think that's a good point. A perfect example of that would be the Greek vase or urn. Though Keats wrote a great ode to it, though not one of my favorites, the creators of these objects would have thought he was nuts. They regarded themselves and by everyone else as the lowest kind of artisan and simply did it for the pleasure of decorating and competing with each other. What these containers were used for had much more value than what was painted on its exterior. Of course the consensus has long been that these are one of a kind not simply in its skill but in its depictions of Greek life as well. In fact, they feel close to modern art as if it could have inspired the likes of Picasso.

User avatar
Count Lucanor
Posts: 716
Joined: May 6th, 2017, 5:08 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Umberto Eco
Location: Panama
Contact:

Re: What is Art?

Post by Count Lucanor » April 11th, 2020, 12:11 pm

Greta wrote:
April 10th, 2020, 11:45 pm
Count Lucanor wrote:
April 10th, 2020, 10:17 pm

I'm not sure what is meant by internally and externally. Art, it seems, has always referred to something that shows up in society, a social praxis. If we individually perceive it as art, it is because we have learned it.
You can look at clouds in the sky and see art. That is internal.
You might see beauty, but not necessarily art. Again, it might be possible that we identify it as art today, because we've been conditioned by a couple of centuries of artistic depictions of nature that made us appreciate the forms of nature as beautiful. In our current mind set up, we might be actually saying: "this is what an artist would put in a painting".

User avatar
Count Lucanor
Posts: 716
Joined: May 6th, 2017, 5:08 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Umberto Eco
Location: Panama
Contact:

Re: What is Art?

Post by Count Lucanor » April 11th, 2020, 12:42 pm

Jklint wrote:
April 11th, 2020, 1:10 am
Count Lucanor wrote:
April 10th, 2020, 10:22 pm

Now we're getting closer. In the ancient world, the difference between art and technique was almost nonexistent, and so there was the art of hunting, of war, of making swords, etc.
Yes, but when you say there was the art of hunting, of war, of making swords, the word art is used in a different sense as an activity to which learned skill has been applied. Art as examined in this thread has a different connotation, one more specialized. Art in that sense cannot be used in just any context as an "art of" this or that denoting a simple measure of skill.
It is exactly quite the opposite, art and technique had the necessary connotation of skill. What we call the specialization of artistic praxis is something different, which came about the 18th century. Up until then, the artist subordinated its skills to other purposes outside its craft, it had other functions: symbolism, education, entertainment, etc. That was what put Mozart in a palace. Paintings were produced in guilds under the guidance of a master, and many times it didn't matter much whether the work was made by the master himself or a disciple. Eventually the artist and his praxis became more independent of such constraints and individual genius began to be appraised. Surely, we have now disassociated hunting and sword making from art, as well as most (if not all) of the handcrafts, but interestingly, one could make the case that contemporary non-conceptual art has returned to the level of craftsmanship.
Jklint wrote:
April 11th, 2020, 1:10 am
Also when you say In the ancient world, the difference between art and technique was almost nonexistent, I think that's a good point. A perfect example of that would be the Greek vase or urn. Though Keats wrote a great ode to it, though not one of my favorites, the creators of these objects would have thought he was nuts. They regarded themselves and by everyone else as the lowest kind of artisan and simply did it for the pleasure of decorating and competing with each other. What these containers were used for had much more value than what was painted on its exterior. Of course the consensus has long been that these are one of a kind not simply in its skill but in its depictions of Greek life as well. In fact, they feel close to modern art as if it could have inspired the likes of Picasso.
You're exactly right. Most of the original functions or purposes of those artistic objects were lost, they are meaningless and useless for us in that sense, and yet something remains that makes us see them valuable, as an ideal, an aesthetic model that can still inspire our imagination.

User avatar
Count Lucanor
Posts: 716
Joined: May 6th, 2017, 5:08 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Umberto Eco
Location: Panama
Contact:

Re: What is Art?

Post by Count Lucanor » April 11th, 2020, 12:45 pm

A minor correction, I meant to say: Up until then, the artist subordinated his skills to other purposes outside his craft...

User avatar
Greta
Site Admin
Posts: 9181
Joined: December 16th, 2013, 9:05 pm

Re: What is Art?

Post by Greta » April 11th, 2020, 5:23 pm

Count Lucanor wrote:
April 11th, 2020, 12:11 pm
Greta wrote:
April 10th, 2020, 11:45 pm

You can look at clouds in the sky and see art. That is internal.
You might see beauty, but not necessarily art. Again, it might be possible that we identify it as art today, because we've been conditioned by a couple of centuries of artistic depictions of nature that made us appreciate the forms of nature as beautiful. In our current mind set up, we might be actually saying: "this is what an artist would put in a painting".
Experientially there is no difference between being enchanted by the beauty of nature (or whatever) and being enchanted by art.

User avatar
Sculptor1
Posts: 1899
Joined: May 16th, 2019, 5:35 am

Re: What is Art?

Post by Sculptor1 » April 11th, 2020, 5:41 pm

Count Lucanor wrote:
April 10th, 2020, 10:22 pm
Jklint wrote:
April 10th, 2020, 6:53 pm


The skill of representation whether it be in sound, sight or words to whatever point it may strive or be capable of. Without imagination and the ability to render it, art wouldn't exist. I think we can agree on that. Art is a fusion of imagination and ability externalizing what is initially subjective into the objective. After that it's the consensus of each generation which gives it its value...more or less. Also, "acts of necessity" are limited by it's nature. Art has no such limitation.
Now we're getting closer. In the ancient world, the difference between art and technique was almost nonexistent, and so there was the art of hunting, of war, of making swords, etc.
This remains where true art exists.
Cooking, woodwork - even cleaning a car can involve artistry. The rest is just vanity.

User avatar
Sculptor1
Posts: 1899
Joined: May 16th, 2019, 5:35 am

Re: What is Art?

Post by Sculptor1 » April 11th, 2020, 5:42 pm

Greta wrote:
April 11th, 2020, 5:23 pm
Count Lucanor wrote:
April 11th, 2020, 12:11 pm

You might see beauty, but not necessarily art. Again, it might be possible that we identify it as art today, because we've been conditioned by a couple of centuries of artistic depictions of nature that made us appreciate the forms of nature as beautiful. In our current mind set up, we might be actually saying: "this is what an artist would put in a painting".
Experientially there is no difference between being enchanted by the beauty of nature (or whatever) and being enchanted by art.
Except that there is no art very little art in nature. Art is culture. It's the result of conscious praxis.

User avatar
Greta
Site Admin
Posts: 9181
Joined: December 16th, 2013, 9:05 pm

Re: What is Art?

Post by Greta » April 11th, 2020, 6:44 pm

Sculptor1 wrote:
April 11th, 2020, 5:42 pm
Greta wrote:
April 11th, 2020, 5:23 pm

Experientially there is no difference between being enchanted by the beauty of nature (or whatever) and being enchanted by art.
Except that there is no art very little art in nature. Art is culture. It's the result of conscious praxis.
Art is in the observer's head. The experience of being inspired and enthralled by nature is not different to being inspired and enthralled by art.

Great art is just patterning if there are no minds to render it. Ditto nature - or anything, really. Thus, you will never find non-human animals in queues at the Louvre, hoping to glimpse the Mona Lisa. They would, at best, observe a small, dark object on a wall that, for some reason, tends to be surrounded by sweaty hominids standing behind a rope.

User avatar
Count Lucanor
Posts: 716
Joined: May 6th, 2017, 5:08 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Umberto Eco
Location: Panama
Contact:

Re: What is Art?

Post by Count Lucanor » April 12th, 2020, 1:09 am

Greta wrote:
April 11th, 2020, 5:23 pm
Count Lucanor wrote:
April 11th, 2020, 12:11 pm

You might see beauty, but not necessarily art. Again, it might be possible that we identify it as art today, because we've been conditioned by a couple of centuries of artistic depictions of nature that made us appreciate the forms of nature as beautiful. In our current mind set up, we might be actually saying: "this is what an artist would put in a painting".
Experientially there is no difference between being enchanted by the beauty of nature (or whatever) and being enchanted by art.
I would say that at some levels, there is a difference in the experience. Anyway, that will only tell about the experience itself, not what triggered it in the first place, which is what the question of what is art is looking for. Besides, finding something pleasant to the senses has not always being identified with art, sometimes it was meant to produce exactly the opposite reaction.

User avatar
Count Lucanor
Posts: 716
Joined: May 6th, 2017, 5:08 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Umberto Eco
Location: Panama
Contact:

Re: What is Art?

Post by Count Lucanor » April 12th, 2020, 1:12 am

Sculptor1 wrote:
April 11th, 2020, 5:41 pm
Count Lucanor wrote:
April 10th, 2020, 10:22 pm

Now we're getting closer. In the ancient world, the difference between art and technique was almost nonexistent, and so there was the art of hunting, of war, of making swords, etc.
This remains where true art exists.
Cooking, woodwork - even cleaning a car can involve artistry. The rest is just vanity.
Not really. Not after centuries of highly developed forms of artistry. Can we compare a good cook with Bach's art in the Mass in B minor? Hardly.

User avatar
Greta
Site Admin
Posts: 9181
Joined: December 16th, 2013, 9:05 pm

Re: What is Art?

Post by Greta » April 12th, 2020, 1:42 am

Count Lucanor wrote:
April 12th, 2020, 1:09 am
Greta wrote:
April 11th, 2020, 5:23 pm

Experientially there is no difference between being enchanted by the beauty of nature (or whatever) and being enchanted by art.
I would say that at some levels, there is a difference in the experience. Anyway, that will only tell about the experience itself, not what triggered it in the first place, which is what the question of what is art is looking for. Besides, finding something pleasant to the senses has not always being identified with art, sometimes it was meant to produce exactly the opposite reaction.
Sure there's a difference. There is a difference between being inspired by the form of clouds and being inspired by the forms of microbes too. Simply, different things trigger different thoughts. However, the situation is still basically a matter of forms that trigger dopamine release in some brains. I am not aware of the production of extra brain chemicals released by humans in response to human-made forms, as opposed to forms produced by environment. Maybe oxytocin in love songs? Then again, I'd say the Yosemite double rainbow guy is enjoying an oxytocin hit too :) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQSNhk5ICTI

"Being identified with art" is not actually related to what I was speaking about. Classifications of art made by external consensus need not be related to what one experiences. A good example is John Cage, who interpreted everyday sounds as music. He loved the sound of many amusical noises that occurred incidentally around him in much the same way as one might love the sound of a well-played cello.

User avatar
Sculptor1
Posts: 1899
Joined: May 16th, 2019, 5:35 am

Re: What is Art?

Post by Sculptor1 » April 12th, 2020, 5:35 am

Greta wrote:
April 11th, 2020, 6:44 pm
Sculptor1 wrote:
April 11th, 2020, 5:42 pm

Except that there is no art very little art in nature. Art is culture. It's the result of conscious praxis.
Art is in the observer's head.
Only like everything is in the head. Art is the manipulation of media. Otherwise its just imagination. There is a good word for that. It's called imagination. Since this has a word - why confuse it can define art like that.
The experience of being inspired and enthralled by nature is not different to being inspired and enthralled by art.
If art is in the head, this statement is meaningless. This leads me to believe that you do not actually think art is a thing in the head. You are confusing art with the EXPERIENCE of art, which as you say can be similar to experiencing nature.

Great art is just patterning if there are no minds to render it.
If there are no minds to render it there is no art at all, and no nature to experience either. I don't see how this advances your claim.
Ditto nature - or anything, really. Thus, you will never find non-human animals in queues at the Louvre, hoping to glimpse the Mona Lisa.
But if art is just in the head, why would I want to gawp at a thing on a wall - why not just imagine it?
The fact is that art is in the craft of it. People marvel at how media can be transformed into something beautiful, be that a painting or sculpture or something else. The mona lisa is nothing other than a random palette of paint and a canvas. The art comes when a master transforms materials in to the object.
They would, at best, observe a small, dark object on a wall that, for some reason, tends to be surrounded by sweaty hominids standing behind a rope.
This is just juvenile solipsism.

User avatar
Sculptor1
Posts: 1899
Joined: May 16th, 2019, 5:35 am

Re: What is Art?

Post by Sculptor1 » April 12th, 2020, 5:43 am

Count Lucanor wrote:
April 12th, 2020, 1:12 am
Sculptor1 wrote:
April 11th, 2020, 5:41 pm


This remains where true art exists.
Cooking, woodwork - even cleaning a car can involve artistry. The rest is just vanity.
Not really. Not after centuries of highly developed forms of artistry. Can we compare a good cook with Bach's art in the Mass in B minor? Hardly.
Absolutely we can - unless you are a complete snob.
You might want to look into some examples of high cuisine.
I'd place my home made lemon meringue way over The Fountain.
I'd place a the artistry in a good chippendale way over any piece of music to come out of the charts in the last 20 years.

User avatar
Sculptor1
Posts: 1899
Joined: May 16th, 2019, 5:35 am

Re: What is Art?

Post by Sculptor1 » April 12th, 2020, 5:48 am


Jklint
Posts: 1584
Joined: February 23rd, 2012, 3:06 am

Re: What is Art?

Post by Jklint » April 12th, 2020, 5:52 am

Count Lucanor wrote:
April 11th, 2020, 12:42 pm
It is exactly quite the opposite, art and technique had the necessary connotation of skill. What we call the specialization of artistic praxis is something different, which came about the 18th century. Up until then, the artist subordinated its skills to other purposes outside its craft, it had other functions: symbolism, education, entertainment, etc. That was what put Mozart in a palace.
I'm not completely certain whether I'm getting the complete message but it sounds like something I wouldn't disagree with. During the 18th century when music became evermore culturally relevant it's servants were employed to produce works based on demand or commissions more as exceptionally skilled craftsmen than any deep acknowledgement of genius. In spite of most being very well paid they, in short, still ate at the servant's table which really irked Mozart during his Salzburg years under Archbishop Colloredo. Haydn, who was 24 years older than Mozart, accepted conditions more easily. He understood that pleasing the Esterházys was definitely to his advantage and so it turned out. I think you meant "Haydn" in a palace rather than Mozart in having a host of functions besides composing. He was, once established, the second highest paid in the Esterházy establishment.

The point is that it was during the late period of the 18th century that overt genius, whether in music or elsewhere, became apparent and began to be acknowledged as such. When Vice-Admiral Nelson came to visit the Esterházys he was more interested in meeting Haydn than his host who wasn't pleased. Haydn by then had the reputation of being the greatest musical genius in all of Europe. Beethoven was an heir in what became the new normal in regard to genius and exceptionality.
Count Lucanor wrote:
April 11th, 2020, 12:42 pm
Surely, we have now disassociated hunting and sword making from art, as well as most (if not all) of the handcrafts, but interestingly, one could make the case that contemporary non-conceptual art has returned to the level of craftsmanship.
If I understand you right, that's the point I was trying to make that even if the distinction may not be 100% complete, contemporary usage of terms like art, art of and even artistic cannot or shouldn't be conflated as having the same meaning.

As for one could make the case that contemporary non-conceptual art has returned to the level of craftsmanship may be true but to my mind only because imagination as a critical component is missing more than the technique itself. We have worn ourselves out it seems and now only manage to deliver absurdities by means of the conceptual.

Sorry for the long post!

Post Reply