Weâ??ve been discussing the recent controversy surrounding one of Nan Goldinâ??s photographs that was recently seized by police from an exhibition due to fears that it might breach pornography laws. We ended up asking if the work was even really art or just a snapshot. This got me thinking about what constitutes art so I thought Iâ??d write a post about.
So what does count as art? Well my trusted Pocket Oxford English Dictionary says, â??art â?? n, 1. the expression of creative skill in a visual form such as painting or sculpture. 2. paintings, drawings, and sculpture as a whole.â?? Well I guess that should include photography too (goes to show how old my dictionary is). So by definition it doesnâ??t really matter what I paint, draw or photograph or indeed how I go about doing so, it can all be classified as art.
I donâ??t think thatâ??s a good enough definition though. I think art needs to be more than that to be called art. Surely for something to be art there aught to be some sort of expression within it or at least some sort of meaning to it, and not just that, but a meaning or expression that the artist intended to be in there and is in someway communicated by the piece.
Is the definition of art a personal thing? Often Iâ??ve heard people say that something isnâ??t art, seemingly just because they donâ??t like it, so is the reverse true? Can something only be art if you like it? There have always been artists who have challenged our perception of art. Artists like Andy Warhol and more recently Damien Hirst, to name just two, have created pieces that have caused uproar within society. Does this mean they canâ??t really be considered art?
Is the question answered by the subject of the piece? For instance is a photograph of starving children in a war torn country taken by a news reporter art? After all the primary function of the photography here would be reportage. The most important thing is that the photograph offers a realistic portrayal of the situation. Is it even wrong to call it art? If it isnâ??t wrong to call it art, isnâ??t it at least disrespectful to the subjects of the photo to consider it as such? Would a photographic reproduction of Constableâ??s â??The Hay Wainâ? support the opposite argument?
What counts as art for you?
If you would, take a look at the photo above. I took it a few years ago and at the time I had every intention for it to be labeled art. I wonâ??t share with you what I think of it now, but I will when the results are in. Is it art? Let us know what you think, leave us a comment.