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.
User avatar
Count Lucanor
Posts: 715
Joined: May 6th, 2017, 5:08 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Umberto Eco
Location: Panama
Contact:

Re: What is Art?

Post by Count Lucanor » April 13th, 2020, 6:07 pm

Greta wrote:
April 13th, 2020, 1:42 am
@Count Lucanor
Thanks for that detailed description. So, in summary, you feel that the blend of mass cultural movements and technology has lead to a dropping of standards, at least in the mainstream.
The relation between mass culture and high-end culture is still more complicated than some cultural critics might say. For Adorno, it was very black and white, and what he cleared up from sins was not much, basically everything had fallen to the needs of production of commodities in capitalist societies, which implied, according to his colleague Benjamin, the loss of an aura of authenticity in art, its soul. Evidently, that could only be taken as a broad generalization, neither is high culture the sanctuary of the most elevated art, nor is mass culture completely devoid of imagination, talent and innovation.
Greta wrote:
April 13th, 2020, 1:42 am
I see this as more the result of economic rationalisation than postmodernism. It appears to me that, in all areas of human endeavour, there are two major tranches - that of experts and of the masses. Popular culture is cheapening all the time as makers become ever more formulaic and risk averse in an ever more competitive market with ever fewer second chances available after failure. For instance, imagine a wonderful piece and arrangement like Classical Gas being a #1 hit today https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mREi_Bb85Sk. It's unimaginable. Meanwhile artistic masters an virtuosos are ever more common in elite levels due to the broader availability of high quality instructional material.
That's the general agreement, that it is all mostly the result of changes in the production and consumption of goods, affecting the relations between producers of art, their consumers and the objects they consume, which are not really the same relations that existed between the popular and the elites in previous centuries. Some thinkers have called our attention to that other group that in our modern societies has slipped in the middle, eager to enjoy the elevated art previously reserved for the higher classes, but without all its complications (both in the production and consumption), so end up with a premanufactured hybrid that is a washed out version of higher forms and even lacks the brute authenticity of real popular culture.
Greta wrote:
April 13th, 2020, 1:42 am
Olympians break ever more records while the masses become fatter. Scientists know more than ever before as the masses embrace anti-science conspiracy theories. Medical knowledge and medicines are always improving while patient care - which so much relies on a doctor knowing a patient and the way their bodies usually operate - becomes rationalised and fragmented.

The bifurcated state of the arts appears to be reflective of the increasing schism appearing in many in societies, the natural effect of decades of neoliberalism, with resources "trickling down" while gushing upwards.
It's paradoxical, we live in a society of specialists in small areas of social living, but mostly incompetent and ignorant about the rest. You will get a marvelous sportsperson, a consecrated pianist, a brilliant engineer, and so on, and yet most of them will suffer from severe limitations in other aspects of social life, politics and culture. They would put a buffoon as president.

User avatar
Count Lucanor
Posts: 715
Joined: May 6th, 2017, 5:08 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Umberto Eco
Location: Panama
Contact:

Re: What is Art?

Post by Count Lucanor » April 13th, 2020, 6:35 pm

Sculptor1 wrote:
April 13th, 2020, 4:18 am
How absurdly wrong you are. Art is an empty exercise in vanity without the craft to make it.
Cite; "The Fountain". This is anti art. Drag a pit of pot out of a skip and sign it "Mutt". This is not art. There is more art in the original design of the piss pot.
No. Not everyone can make a good pudding. That's why I do the cooking in my home - because I am the best at it.
Bach had craft. He had to devote his entire life to the craft of making music. World standard chefs are no different.
You are very much confused. What you suggest is that any basic craft is as good an art as any other more technically complicated work. So, the king of the lemon puddings stands in no lesser technical category than the composer of a one-hour symphony. Any distinction is, according to you, pure vanity. What would have happened if instead of "Fountain" we have had in that gallery a lemon pudding signed R. Mutt? Would it still be comparable to a work from Bach or Beethoven?

User avatar
LuckyR
Moderator
Posts: 4199
Joined: January 18th, 2015, 1:16 am

Re: What is Art?

Post by LuckyR » April 13th, 2020, 7:09 pm

Not everything that is artistic, is art. Specifically, the products of an artisan (lemon meringue) and of an artist (the Fountain), aren't and are art. I agree with Sculptor1 that the Fountain is bad art (perhaps horrendously bad art), but that is a different topic. Now the chef who made the first meringue was likely an artist. So just as making the 1 billionth lemon meringue is not art, me putting a urinal on a pedestal is not art. What makes the Fountain art (albeit bad art) was the idea of putting a urinal on a pedestal.
"As usual... it depends."

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

Re: What is Art?

Post by Greta » April 13th, 2020, 8:09 pm

Count Lucanor wrote:
April 13th, 2020, 6:07 pm
The relation between mass culture and high-end culture is still more complicated than some cultural critics might say. For Adorno ... basically everything had fallen to the needs of production of commodities in capitalist societies, which implied, according to his colleague Benjamin, the loss of an aura of authenticity in art, its soul. Evidently, that could only be taken as a broad generalization, neither is high culture the sanctuary of the most elevated art, nor is mass culture completely devoid of imagination, talent and innovation.

... changes in the production and consumption of goods, affecting the relations between producers of art, their consumers and the objects they consume, which are not really the same relations that existed between the popular and the elites in previous centuries. Some thinkers have called our attention to that other group that in our modern societies has slipped in the middle, eager to enjoy the elevated art previously reserved for the higher classes, but without all its complications (both in the production and consumption), so end up with a premanufactured hybrid that is a washed out version of higher forms and even lacks the brute authenticity of real popular culture.

... It's paradoxical, we live in a society of specialists in small areas of social living, but mostly incompetent and ignorant about the rest. You will get a marvelous sportsperson, a consecrated pianist, a brilliant engineer, and so on, and yet most of them will suffer from severe limitations in other aspects of social life, politics and culture. They would put a buffoon as president.
I agree. It does not appear as B&W to me as Adorno either. I agree about the growing "middle" too. I see a lot of musicians in popular idioms today who have developed technical chops to rival that of some of the old greats, and at times, surpassing them. Yet there is a sameness about them. The globalisation of music education has lead to a homogeneity of styles. True originals seem harder to come by and, when they do, it often feels as if they are pushing difference for difference's sake rather than having a vision of how they want music to be. There's ever more emphasis on impression than expression, the latter often dismissed as self-indulgent.

It makes sense that, as societies become larger, specialisation increases. At large scales, everything changes. Instead of individuals in an island community sewing up a fishing net, millions of nets are produced in huge factories where teams of people and/or bots drive forklifts that carry the bags of plastic to the production line, where teams of people and/or bots will put the plastic in the extruders, and so on.

It is said that humans are not truly eusocial species, but it's clear that the trend is in that direction. It may be that Adorno was correct, just premature. Then again, a prediction that any ordered entity, dynamic or phenomenon (in this case, the depth of art) will break down is guaranteed to happen sometime.

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

Re: What is Art?

Post by Jklint » April 13th, 2020, 8:30 pm

If one thinks of it in purely blunt terms without the philosophical overtones that usually get applied, art as it stands is totally meaningless with zero value. What creates its value or meaning is purely consensus as its psychological affirmation and nothing else. Who or what else would judge it? Consensus is not just of one age, unless it gets deep-sixed almost immediately and lost forever, but of each subsequent generation as well. It's not hard to notice how in every type of art the concept becomes extremely fluid as far as merit is concerned based on its progression through the ages where no generation is simply a copy of the last. There is an evolution in describing something as art even if art on its own is simply an empty variable. It may be trite to say but there really is no such thing as art unless there's something special noticed in what presumes to be art which may be observed immediately or take centuries.

User avatar
Count Lucanor
Posts: 715
Joined: May 6th, 2017, 5:08 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Umberto Eco
Location: Panama
Contact:

Re: What is Art?

Post by Count Lucanor » April 13th, 2020, 11:11 pm

Jklint wrote:
April 12th, 2020, 5:52 am
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.
For most of these artists, landing a job on a royal court was the difference between extreme poverty and some stability. Surely they were there to please their patrons (who by the way were no musical illiterates), but ultimately were doing what they wanted to do in terms of artistic goals.
Jklint wrote:
April 12th, 2020, 5:52 am
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.
I find interesting, although perhaps it's only me, since no one else has noticed, that English speakers tend to give the word "art" a broader meaning than people that speak Romance languages. You will not find here many kindergarten teachers telling kids they're going to do arte while showing them crayons and painting rainbows.
Jklint wrote:
April 12th, 2020, 5:52 am
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.
I think it's both, the lack of technical competence, because it has been undervalued, and the lack of imagination, because the whole art system has been degraded to a market of futile extravagances. I don't know if where you're located your Netflix account gives you access to the same movies I have access to. If you do, try looking for an Argentinian film called "Mi Obra Maestra". It's an entertaining comedy, but beneath that layer there's an acute and acid depiction of how the world of art works these days. It's basically a scam!! You might want to look also into the Youtube videos of Mexican art critic Avelina Lesper.
Jklint wrote:
April 12th, 2020, 5:52 am
Sorry for the long post!
No problem at all!!

User avatar
Sculptor1
Posts: 1898
Joined: May 16th, 2019, 5:35 am

Re: What is Art?

Post by Sculptor1 » April 14th, 2020, 4:31 am

Count Lucanor wrote:
April 13th, 2020, 6:35 pm
Sculptor1 wrote:
April 13th, 2020, 4:18 am
How absurdly wrong you are. Art is an empty exercise in vanity without the craft to make it.
Cite; "The Fountain". This is anti art. Drag a pit of pot out of a skip and sign it "Mutt". This is not art. There is more art in the original design of the piss pot.
No. Not everyone can make a good pudding. That's why I do the cooking in my home - because I am the best at it.
Bach had craft. He had to devote his entire life to the craft of making music. World standard chefs are no different.
You are very much confused. What you suggest is that any basic craft is as good an art as any other more technically complicated work. So, the king of the lemon puddings stands in no lesser technical category than the composer of a one-hour symphony. Any distinction is, according to you, pure vanity. What would have happened if instead of "Fountain" we have had in that gallery a lemon pudding signed R. Mutt? Would it still be comparable to a work from Bach or Beethoven?
No you are confused.
Brainwashed by 20thC decadence. Art has existed for 30,000 years, and it is only in the last 100 that the craft of art has been scorned. The reason is money. Charlatans like Warhol who have ZERO skill have foisted the aberration of art; mas produced for the masses. A money making machine. These people are not fit to stand on the same planet with people like Rodin and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

User avatar
Sculptor1
Posts: 1898
Joined: May 16th, 2019, 5:35 am

Re: What is Art?

Post by Sculptor1 » April 14th, 2020, 4:33 am

Without craft a picture of the Mona Lisa has to same artistic content as the actual canvas.

User avatar
Count Lucanor
Posts: 715
Joined: May 6th, 2017, 5:08 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Umberto Eco
Location: Panama
Contact:

Re: What is Art?

Post by Count Lucanor » April 14th, 2020, 5:13 pm

Sculptor1 wrote:
April 14th, 2020, 4:31 am
Count Lucanor wrote:
April 13th, 2020, 6:35 pm

You are very much confused. What you suggest is that any basic craft is as good an art as any other more technically complicated work. So, the king of the lemon puddings stands in no lesser technical category than the composer of a one-hour symphony. Any distinction is, according to you, pure vanity. What would have happened if instead of "Fountain" we have had in that gallery a lemon pudding signed R. Mutt? Would it still be comparable to a work from Bach or Beethoven?
No you are confused.
Brainwashed by 20thC decadence. Art has existed for 30,000 years, and it is only in the last 100 that the craft of art has been scorned. The reason is money. Charlatans like Warhol who have ZERO skill have foisted the aberration of art; mas produced for the masses. A money making machine. These people are not fit to stand on the same planet with people like Rodin and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
But then you fall in a blatant contradiction. First you say that any craftsmanship, as simple as it may be, such as cooking or cleaning a car, deserves to be called art. Even more, you said there's no difference in terms of artistry between a lemon pudding, cleaning a car and a symphony, the level of craftsmanship was of no use to you, just that there was some skill involved, and the rest was just plain vanity. But now you exclude some works for supposedly showing low skills. Will you make up your mind?

User avatar
Sculptor1
Posts: 1898
Joined: May 16th, 2019, 5:35 am

Re: What is Art?

Post by Sculptor1 » April 15th, 2020, 8:00 am

Count Lucanor wrote:
April 14th, 2020, 5:13 pm
Sculptor1 wrote:
April 14th, 2020, 4:31 am

No you are confused.
Brainwashed by 20thC decadence. Art has existed for 30,000 years, and it is only in the last 100 that the craft of art has been scorned. The reason is money. Charlatans like Warhol who have ZERO skill have foisted the aberration of art; mas produced for the masses. A money making machine. These people are not fit to stand on the same planet with people like Rodin and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
But then you fall in a blatant contradiction. First you say that any craftsmanship, as simple as it may be, such as cooking or cleaning a car, deserves to be called art. Even more, you said there's no difference in terms of artistry between a lemon pudding, cleaning a car and a symphony, the level of craftsmanship was of no use to you, just that there was some skill involved, and the rest was just plain vanity. But now you exclude some works for supposedly showing low skills. Will you make up your mind?
I say that a lemon pudding qualifies for the term "art".
But insist that the level of craft is most important.
I sorry you have become so confused. There is no contradiction here.

User avatar
Count Lucanor
Posts: 715
Joined: May 6th, 2017, 5:08 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Umberto Eco
Location: Panama
Contact:

Re: What is Art?

Post by Count Lucanor » April 15th, 2020, 9:58 am

Sculptor1 wrote:
April 15th, 2020, 8:00 am
I say that a lemon pudding qualifies for the term "art".
But insist that the level of craft is most important.
No. After you said that making a pudding or cleaning a car involved artistry, I replied that you could not compare them with a masterpiece from Bach, which can only be understood as asserting the importance of the level of craft. But you replied back denying it, saying that it would be pure snobbism. So, you are caught in a blatant contradiction.

User avatar
Sculptor1
Posts: 1898
Joined: May 16th, 2019, 5:35 am

Re: What is Art?

Post by Sculptor1 » April 15th, 2020, 5:26 pm

Count Lucanor wrote:
April 15th, 2020, 9:58 am
Sculptor1 wrote:
April 15th, 2020, 8:00 am
I say that a lemon pudding qualifies for the term "art".
But insist that the level of craft is most important.
No. After you said that making a pudding or cleaning a car involved artistry, I replied that you could not compare them with a masterpiece from Bach, which can only be understood as asserting the importance of the level of craft. But you replied back denying it, saying that it would be pure snobbism. So, you are caught in a blatant contradiction.
No, you are confused.
There are chefs out there that have as much craft as Bach.
Oh, but yes, you are definitely a snob.

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

Re: What is Art?

Post by Greta » April 15th, 2020, 7:09 pm

It's like philosophy forum posts. Just about anyone can create a post, but - just plucking an example from the air - the posts may just be repetitive and competitive nonsense that adds nothing to mutual, or any, understanding.

It's not uncommon for two people with very similar views to argue because they used different words to express similar concepts. This is just a "random" example, of course ...

User avatar
Count Lucanor
Posts: 715
Joined: May 6th, 2017, 5:08 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Umberto Eco
Location: Panama
Contact:

Re: What is Art?

Post by Count Lucanor » April 15th, 2020, 9:55 pm

Sculptor1 wrote:
April 15th, 2020, 5:26 pm

There are chefs out there that have as much craft as Bach.
There you go. Anyone can say that his dog is as good an actor as Michael Caine, and anyone who opposes, is a snob. I doubt many would take acting classes with the owner of such wise judgement.

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

Re: What is Art?

Post by Jklint » April 16th, 2020, 3:21 am

Count Lucanor wrote:
April 15th, 2020, 9:55 pm
Sculptor1 wrote:
April 15th, 2020, 5:26 pm

There are chefs out there that have as much craft as Bach.
There you go. Anyone can say that his dog is as good an actor as Michael Caine, and anyone who opposes, is a snob. I doubt many would take acting classes with the owner of such wise judgement.
Really count, I have no idea why you would think there's any difference between something like this...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dIaLrdOm3G0

...and a Soufflé! :shock:

Post Reply