Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Pursuing Art

I was reading through the spring issue of "T" magazine (the new New York Times Style Magazine), and came across an interesting article about Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. In the article, she states,

"I don't consider myself an artist. I am pursuing art in order to correct the disability which began in my childhood."

The rest of the article went on to talk about her mental illness (or lack thereof, according to some)...but it was the first part of her quote that stood out to me.

How often have I been in a museum and wondered how a certain piece of art was considered "worthy" of display...or wondered, "What IS art?"

Following the quote from Kusama, the author of the article asked, "Is great art the conscious effort of brilliant minds, or is it an outpouring of freakish individuality?"

YES! I love that question. So often it feels funny to introduce myself as an I have to do something to earn that title or something. Where is the blend between "really knowing what I'm doing," and simply expressing myself? Why are some people's expressions considered better than others? Sometimes I think it is judged by the amount of "brilliance" or education or technique behind their work, sometimes I think it can be judged by the importance of what they are expressing.

The longer I do design, the more I realize how subjective art interesting to think about every "artist's" pursuit of it simply something that we can relate to or identify with that makes it aesthetically appropriate or "good" to us?


Arizona Bam said...

Great thoughts, Beth! I've been thinking about this stuff lately in relation to music...

>>>"Is great art the conscious effort of brilliant minds, or is it an outpouring of freakish individuality?"

I really like this question, too, but it doesn't quite capture the angle that I'm exploring as I try to define "art" in my subjective eyes...

I find myself leaning towards a definition that describes art as a creation that adds value to the human experience, and in order to inherently have worth it must necessarily be built on honesty, insight, and ability. (I'm sure this definition falls short in some way, but it's the best I've got right now:-)

I'm drawn to this conclusion as I think about various musicians that I get into and others that I don't. I've been trying to put my finger on why I respect some "artists" and not others. And I've concluded that those that usually repel me are easily perceived as opportunists... as people clinging to the cheap material of pop culture and leveraging it for their personal gain... people who are generally lacking across the board on honesty, insight, and (frequently) raw ability.

And it works the other way in my mind as well. Oftentimes, I'll come across a musician or a visual artist that I just don't connect with... maybe they don't have brilliant technique or maybe what they do is just confusing & super abstract or maybe they just come across as a bit amateurish. Yet, I'll still feel really excited about what they're doing because you can feel, hear, and/or see the honesty or insight dripping from their efforts... and that's beautiful, and that's valuable, and (for me) that's art. (...which is why I've always thought that everybody was designed to be an artist, because everybody has the capacity for honesty and insight...)

Anyway, that's my pocket-change on the topic. Keep the posts coming!

Beth said...

I suppose this means I have officially failed as a blogger...not only do I not respond to comments, I don't even realize I have any comments! Thanks for your thoughts, Adam!

The more I think about it, the more I think that there are standards, that there have to be standards, to follow our expression...what they are, I don't know. Your thoughts on music really made me contemplate this.

So what makes good/bad art? And what makes good/bad music?

A question for the ages...