• T Clark
    7.6k
    The qualities you mention don't constitute a basis for the quality of art.Raymond

    Says you.T Clark

    Off course. But you say also.Raymond

    Here are some examples of the kinds of things I have said in this thread about what art is and how to judge it's quality.

    I just tossed that list characteristics out off the top of my head based on the kind of things I value and that get my attention.T Clark

    Your standard of art is tougher than mine. I think you're making it more highfalutin than it needs to be. I think it makes sense to say that art is anything that someone presents for aesthetic judgement. Then we get to decide if it's good art or not. For me, that judgement is based on what I experience when I look at it.T Clark

    What constitutes good art, good music, good literature, good landscaping, good architecture, good sculpture, good... whatever is determined by the votes of everyone interested in the matter.
    — Bitter Crank

    I think that's an unsatisfactory answer. I'm not sure how much better I can do, but I'm going to try.
    T Clark

    I provide these as evidence that I've tried, and I think mostly succeeded, to be clear that my judgements are based on my personal experience of art. You, on the other hand, present your judgements as dogmatic truth
  • Tom Storm
    2.9k
    he people he froze alive belonged to an elite group of people only interested in propagating their own image in time, just like R himself. R sold his skills to the elite who used him as a camera only. R was rich and asked for. History made him famous because history needs famous figures. People need them. Put them in a museum or at Madame Tussauds. Big deal.Raymond

    I don't think an interpretation of an artist's or subject's motivations tell us anything about whether the work is any good or not. :gasp: Some of my favourite artists were probably arseholes.
  • Tom Storm
    2.9k
    Or perhaps to put in another way, just why did your philosophy tutor had that kind of dismissing attitude in the subject and say "Aesthetics is a non-subject, it doesn't matter - it's just personal taste. Next."?ssu

    He liked to make flip and dismissive comments, so we didn't really take him seriously. But I know it's a view many people hold - perhaps the dominant view in our time - especially when it is so much easier to say this than to think deeply about the matter.
  • Raymond
    649
    I don't think an interpretation of an artist's or subject's motivations tell us anything about whether the work is any good or not.Tom Storm

    My point is that R doesn't know how to tell a story about reality. He just freezes a visible aspect of it, and implicitly tells us it was all about ego and money. The golden age ruled supreme. Warhol at least shows that reality explicitly. Maybe some more religious paintings of Rembrandt qualify as good art.
  • Agent Smith
    1.2k
    vs. ART

    Notice the serifs in ; none in ART.

    Calligraphy vs. Normal writing

    Art is essentially supra-functional: compare vehicles of the 1900s (pure functionality) to those of 2000s (functionality + aesthetic). In that sense, to that degree, art has intrinsic value for it's, in a way, useless.

    Art emerges when needs are fulfilled (Maslow's hierarchy of needs).

    Is the Voyager 2 spacecraft art (beautiful)? Is Senator Padmé Amidala's (Star Wars) Naboo Royal Cruiser art (pretty to look at)?
  • Yohan
    380
    Information is not knowledge.
    Noise is not music.
    A bunch of words is not a story.
    Blabbering on a stage is not giving a talk.
    Aesthetics is not art.
  • Bitter Crank
    10.3k
    art forms are born, they live, and they die. Poetry is dead. The novel is dying. Music is dying, actually.Noble Dust

    I don't buy this. You say poetry is dead but that, if it's true, just means that there is a shortage of good new poetry.T Clark

    I don't know whether to buy it, either; maybe I'll just rent it for. a while.

    When did novels get sick enough to say they were dying? Maybe... by 1975? When I perused the shelves of The Hungry Mind in St. Paul, I starting finding new 'novels' bu authors who didn't seem to feel it was necessary to tell a coherent story with interesting characters. The sickness didn't spread to older novels, of course, but it did persuade me to look elsewhere in the store. There were science fiction titles that were better literature. Hell, Phil Andros' soft core gay books were better. (Phil Andros, aka Samuel Steward, was an English professor at Loyola in Chicago who was fired when the university discovered he was running a thriving tattoo business--way before tattoos went mainstream.) The Hungry Mind is long gone, by the way, avant garde novels and all.

    The poetry section of bookstores aren't very big, usually. When I page through the collections on offer, I find very little of interest. I wasn't reading it in the 1960s, but the Beat poets are interesting to me now. There are some poets who claim "working class" status who write very down-to-earth poetry.

    Too much poetry strikes me as just so much fancy word processing, but some of it is down to earth

    Poetry has ran this gamut before. (gamma ut = Medieval Latin). John Skelton (1460–1529) wrote stuff that was "by turn lyric, passionate, vitriolic, learned, allusive, bewildering, scriptural, satiric, grotesque, and even obscene". In the Tunning of Eleanor Running, Skelton tells the story of an inn keeper whose barrel of ale was under a chicken roost, giving it a special flavor. Chaucer, of course. But then there is the epic Faerie Queene by Edmund Spencer (1590), and I can't tell you how glad I am I don't have to read it again.

    Why did Spencer bother?

    Chaucer, Skelton, Spencer, Ferlinghetti, Ogden Nash, and Allen Ginsberg (long list of others) wrote for interested audiences. If poetry is dying now, it's probably because the audience is dying--maybe literally, maybe not. Art needs a lively audience. Dead audience, dead art.

    A great artist (any form?) can probably enliven a dead audience. maybe.

    Joshua Bell, a very fine, famous violinist of our time tried playing in a Washington DC subway station. The response? Total indifference. The PBS (Pile of Boring Stuff) News Hour interviewed Bell about it (below).

    If you go to orchestra concerts, choral performances, etc., you'll notice a lot of older people there, and not too many young. The writing on the wall is not hard to understand.

  • javra
    1.5k
    I think it's equally true that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder", and that there are aesthetic standards within disciplines.Noble Dust

    I’ll try to illustrate a point via near absurd extremes. Will a frog’s lack of aesthetic calling for a work of art we all hypothetically enjoy, call it art X, take away anything from the work’s value? Suppose the frog could talk and, in so doing, tells us that art X is worthless, nonsensical, instead pointing us to a fly resting on some branch saying, “now there is something worth giving your attention to, worth contemplating, something that truly attracts the deepest inner workings of your soul!”. We don’t deny the frog its own aesthetic truth, but are well enough aware that our own capacity for understanding is far greater than its and, in so knowing, we don’t earnestly compare apples and oranges in attempts to establish which of the two – art X or the fly on the branch – is most infused with aesthetic worth. Importantly, this for us rather than the frog. On the other extreme, lets momentarily fathom an artistic psyche that stands in the same relation to us that we stand to the frog: a deity of artistic manifestations, a Dionysus of sorts. This deity (with a small “d”) creates a work that is dear to it, whose truths its deems profound, sacred, appealing: call it art Z. We look at art Z and understand nothing of it; if not for our here knowing it was the creation of this deity, art Z to us would in fact be worthless, nonsensical. Would this in any way invalidate the reality of the aesthetic calling we ourselves find for art X (but not art Z)? If we were to be honest with ourselves, not in any way. Art X is what calls to us, pulling us nearer, magnetizing us - and not art Z.

    This assumes a simple and straightforward cline regarding depth of understanding among beings. But things are never this simple. I may find song S aesthetic within this emotive context but not some other. My degree of depth of understanding doesn’t significantly change in me as an individual but, even so, my aesthetic attractions toward the same creation might change, change back, and change again.

    This for me further illustrates that the objectivity of aesthetics – if it does in fact occur – cannot be found in anything palpable, such as within an object itself. It instead resides in that which makes aesthetics a common, if one wills, meta-experience within all of us: What the frog, us, and that deity of the arts all share in common in terms - not of tangible outcomes, but - of the calling toward of the soul in relation to something it deems as other. Simplifying aesthetics to this calling for ease of argument, the objectivity, impartiality, of aesthetic reality is to be found in the universality of this calling in and of itself. We might be drawn toward different things, but the calling in all of us remains the same when we are so drawn.

    Aesthetics is not equivalent to art. But in terms of an art piece’s aesthetics: IMO, the ideal artwork needs to hold Goldilocks aesthetics, such that it speaks neither to the understanding of frogs nor to the understanding of deities, but to us. In my laconic appraisal of modern art, in its attempt to be ever more refined, to speak to deities of abstract understanding, it has become a joke, even to the vast majority of artists themselves. For it has in large part become nonsensical to most; and those few curators and such that are refined enough to catch glimpse of beauty here and there in what most take to be nonsensical have forgotten that the purpose, the power, of art is to communicate. Its not intended to be a secret language shared by an exclusive few, but to grab hold of as many as possible. Without this, our art becomes socially powerless.

    As to the standards upheld by the gatekeepers of the artworld, you’re right: they’re intended to filter out, for example, that which is froggishly mediocre from that which is profoundly viable to society as is. I often blame the corporatization of these gatekeepers for their most often failing to do so nowadays (the music industry comes to mind as one example I find blatant), but this gets into a whole other branch of hot potatoes. Still, like the commonsense standards of decency, these often implicit standards of what makes art good can change with the interests of society. Toward the lowest common denominator, here lacking any profundity (e.g., Godsmak’s song “I stand alone”), or else toward a refinement so elevated that it turns around upon itself to become a joke to everyone (e.g., too many paintings consisting of white on white, if that much, called, “untitled”).

    Anyway, a lot written. Simply wanting to exchange views as best I can. I think most of us sense that the standards for good art are nowadays more often than not missing in some way: thereby evidencing that there are such a thing as standards for good art to begin with. But I, personally, so far don’t know how to pinpoint them .. organically or otherwise.

    There is always disagreement even amongst those qualified to participate in this organic process. But inevitably, standards get set; some bits of milk rise to the top, and some get skimmed off. I'm of the believe that, in general, this process works pretty organically and well enough, but of course, some scum rises to the top, and some cream get's discarded.Noble Dust

    I agree with this as far as (imperfect) ideals go, but am dissatisfied with what is currently occurring in practice. I of course might well be a dinosaur, but I've talked to youngsters that share the same view.
  • Tom Storm
    2.9k
    My point is that R doesn't know how to tell a story about reality. He just freezes a visible aspect of it, and implicitly tells us it was all about ego and money.Raymond

    Even if this is correct, I can't think of a better approach or theme for an artist.
  • Tom Storm
    2.9k
    Anyway, a lot written. Simply wanting to exchange views as best I can. I think most of us sense that the standards for good art are nowadays more often than not missing in some way: thereby evidencing that there are such a thing as standards for good art to begin with.javra

    For me a key question isn't merely whether the art is any good but what the consumers of that art are getting out it. Maybe mediocre art provides transcendence for mediocre people? :razz:
  • javra
    1.5k
    For me a key question isn't merely whether the art is any good but what the consumers of that art are getting out it.Tom Storm

    Yes; "exactly" I want to say. I’ll offer that in many ways good art parallels good food. We each have our own tastes – in part due to different needs for different nutrients, upbringing, so forth – but if someone where to tell me that some food tastes good when I in fact don’t find it so, I won’t enjoy eating it irrespective of how objectively good they tell me it is. To me, it’s not about an objective value that is somehow innate to the object – for I don’t think that any non-sentient object has an intrinsic impartial value in itself - but about what is innate within all of us as beings – what impartially exists in this sense – and which finds its diverse uniqueness by placing in relation the complexities of our psyches with items we become aware of. So good art, like good food, is always good in actuality only in relation to some living being(s). "Good" is good only in relation to whom it is good for. Yet degrees of commonality occur between us despite our diversities – and we tend to enjoy it when they do. As one example when it comes to food, all humans can agree that human excrements are not good tasting (well almost: in my comparative cultural studies I once did see a video showing certain humans eating human feces on fine dining plates as a delicacy. Not to be taken too seriously, but they do say that exceptions make the rule).

    Maybe mediocre art provides transcendence for mediocre people? :razz:Tom Storm

    :grin: :up: Without taking transcendence here literally, I for one certainly do uphold this. There’s no doubting that some humans have the capacity to grasp deeper meaning than others, with the profundity of aesthetic experience being intimately associated. Nor, for me, is there any doubting that none of us are endowed with the pinnacle of deep understanding relative to all beings that every were, are, and will ever be. I know myself to be of mediocre tastes by comparison to others – and in fact would hate the idea of it being otherwise, for then there would be nothing left to learn. There’s the willful, openminded enquiry into other’s taste to better comprehend what others aesthetically see, with this sometimes rubbing off on oneself in terms of aesthetic appreciations. And if not there’s still greater comprehension. But, also biasedly speaking, for me equally important is the courage to maintain one’s own authentic aesthetic as in fact being true, or real, relative to oneself, this in spite of what others might comment – for we humans often times take mirth in deriding each other’s affinities rather than accepting the diversity of experienced beauty that can be found in different persons.

    Now, though I’ve taken my jab at modern art – as you previously called me out on – I don’t find myself to be hypocritical in so saying this now. Like a food that doesn’t taste good to me, I’ll be honest in my own aesthetic truths in regard to art pieces (without intending to demean others for their contrasting affinities; a live and let live mentality, at least as an ideal) … Otherwise nonauthenticity results (saying one sees something to be in a way one does not see it to be) - thereby leading to the emperor’s new clothes statements I previously gave in relation to much, but not all, of modern art.
  • ssu
    4.9k
    If you go to orchestra concerts, choral performances, etc., you'll notice a lot of older people there, and not too many young. The writing on the wall is not hard to understand.Bitter Crank
    And why is that, actually?

    That it's something "old" that we can disregard, that is politically incorrect? Pop music or some other "not-western" music is profoundly better?

    Well, if people are so critical of their own Western culture, what do you think will happen?

    Let's get one thing straight: Classical music (and classical Western art) aren't goddam capitalist, it isn't something for only the rich for starters, so don't be against it! Why wouldn't we like the music of our own heritage?
  • Tom Storm
    2.9k
    Like a food that doesn’t taste good to me, I’ll be honest in my own aesthetic truths in regard to art pieces (without intending to demean others for their contrasting affinities; a live and let live mentality, at least as an ideal) … Otherwise nonauthenticity results (saying one sees something to be in a way one does not see it to be) - thereby leading to the emperor’s new clothes statements I previously gave in relation to much, but not all, of modern art.javra

    I hear you. I generally hold the view that humans need to get to know things before they can appreciate them. Chilli for instance. Ditto art. Only by exposing yourself to new things and sticking with them and, perhaps reading about them, can one come to appreciate their subtleties or lack there of. This means sticking with things you are not drawn to and possibly dislike. Subjectivity is something we can overcome. I gradually 'discovered' a lot of music, novels and movies by doing this.

    The challenge with an overly personal or subjective account of art is it tends to render Citizen Kane equivalent with an Adam Sandler movie (or insert piece of shit of your choice). I guess a criterion of value is usually established by a community of shared understanding. Which kind of leaves us to talk inside to our bubbles.

    I'd really like to hear a few choice navigation points from a phenomenological approach to artistic value.
  • Bitter Crank
    10.3k
    And why is that, actually?ssu

    The primary reason is that a large percentage of younger people (under 50) have not had much exposure to music for orchestras and/or string/wind/brass ensembles, or choral music. They have not been exposed in school, or from public media. Many adults do not have experience with classical music to share with their children.

    As a result, when they are out on their own, the cultural milieu of orchestra concerts doesn't appeal to them. The cost of orchestra concerts tends to be fairly high, and while there are less expensive but quality concerts by small ensembles and semiprofessional groups available, one has to actively seek them out.

    There are efforts, here and there, to connect school students with classical music, by bringing it into the schools on an occasional basis. Some public radio groups are programming music with some sort of tie in for younger children and older teenagers. These efforts are all good, but there needs to be much more, IF we are going to interest American youth in formal music.

    In the 1950s CBS Radio carried the New York Philharmonic concerts on Sunday afternoon on its A.M. network. Either NBC or CBS carried the Metropolitan Opera broadcast on Saturday afternoon. There was some "upmarket" religious music broadcast too, featuring trained choirs and professional musicians--not a lot, but some.

    PBS carries a small amount of classical concert music; there is a loose network of classical music stations across the country -- lots of areas are out of their reach -- and the number of classical music stations is declining.

    The majority of my age cohort and younger of parents have done a poor job of transmitting national / western cultural traditions to their children / grandchildren. I'm not exactly sure what is wrong with them. Maybe it has to do with everything that happened in the 1960s and 1970s, and then the slow decline of the working class. A lot of thinking back then was just sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

    That it's something "old" that we can disregard, that is politically incorrect? Pop music or some other "not-western" music is profoundly better?ssu

    Obviously pop music is not "better than" the store of Western Orchestral music. Pop music and classical music serve different needs. I spend much more time listening to classical music than any other kind, but I would feel a great loss if all popular music disappeared. (Well, rap could disappear without any suffering on my part).

    Well, if people are so critical of their own Western culture, what do you think will happen?ssu

    I hear people nattering about the defects of western culture, using their recently acquired moral superiority to weigh the sins of the west, while (usually) overlooking the sins of the rest of the world.

    I don't know what will happen to the nattering nabobs of negativity, or what influence they will have on future events.

    Let's get one thing straight: Classical music (and classical Western art) aren't goddam capitalist, it isn't something for only the rich for starters, so don't be against it! Why wouldn't we like the music of our own heritage?ssu

    My sentiments exactly.
  • T Clark
    7.6k
    I've just started reading "The Principles of Art" by R.G. Collingwood. I came across some historical information that I found interesting and thought others would be interested too. I think it gives perspective on some of the issues we've discussed in this thread.

    History of the word ‘art’

    In order to clear up the ambiguities attaching to the word ‘art’, we must look to its history. The aesthetic sense of the word, the sense which here concerns us, is very recent in origin. Ars in ancient Latin, like τέχνη [technē] in Greek, means something quite different. It means a craft or specialized form of skill, like carpentry carpentry or smithying or surgery. The Greeks and Romans had no conception of what we call art as something different from craft; what we call art they regarded merely as a group of crafts, such as the craft of poetry (ποιητικη τέχνη, ars poetica), which they conceived, sometimes no doubt with misgivings, as in principle just like carpentry and the rest, and differing from any one of these only in the sort of way in which any one of them differs from any other.

    It is difficult for us to realize this fact, and still more so to realize its implications. If people have no word for a certain kind of thing, it is because they are not aware of it as a distinct kind. Admiring as we do the art of the ancient Greeks, we naturally suppose that they admired it in the same kind of spirit as ourselves. But we admire it as a kind of art, where the word ‘art’ carries with it all the subtle and elaborate implications of the modern European aesthetic consciousness. We can be perfectly certain that the Greeks did not admire it in any such way. They approached it from a different point of view. What this was, we can perhaps discover by reading what people like Plato wrote about it; but not without great pains, because the first thing every modern reader does, when he reads what Plato has to say about poetry, is to assume that Plato is describing an aesthetic experience similar to our own. The second thing he does is to lose his temper because Plato describes it so badly. With most readers there is no third stage.

    Ars in medieval Latin, like ‘art’ in the early modern English which borrowed both word and sense, meant any special form of book-learning, such as grammar or logic, magic or astrology. That is still its meaning in the time of Shakespeare: ‘lie there, my art’, says Prospero, putting off his magic gown. But the Renaissance, first in Italy and then elsewhere, re-established the old meaning; and the Renaissance artists, like those of the ancient world, did actually think of themselves as craftsmen. It was not until the seventeenth century that the problems and conceptions conceptions of aesthetic began to be disentangled from those of technic or the philosophy of craft. In the late eighteenth century the disentanglement had gone so far as to establish a distinction between the fine arts and the useful arts; where ‘fine’ arts meant, not delicate or highly skilled arts, but ‘beautiful’ arts (les beaux arts, le belle arti, die schöne Kunst). In the nineteenth century this phrase, abbreviated by leaving out the epithet and generalized by substituting the singular for the distributive plural, became ‘art’.
  • T Clark
    7.6k
    There is something more than personal opinion and public acclaim that makes good art. There's artistic vision, truth, technical mastery, surprise, emotional insight, playfulness, complexity, narrative, simplicity, clarity, idiosyncrasy, depth, history, humor, community.... and on and on. I don't know how to put all that together.T Clark

    I've set myself a task. I'm going to spend some time looking back over things I thought were good recently - a couple of books, something I ate, maybe "Casablanca", my favorite Christmas tree ornament, some silver plate forks and spoons I love.T Clark

    I'd really like to hear a few choice navigation points from a phenomenological approach to artistic value.Tom Storm

    I'd like to take a swing at this in a way I think may be a bit self-indulgent. In a thread still active here on the forum - "A different style of interpretation: Conceptual Reconstructionism" - we discussed the difference between interpreting and reviewing of a work of art. I sometimes write reviews in Amazon for books that I think are especially good. I try to focus on the types of issues I discussed above, although in an informal way. I'm going to post a couple of those reviews to see what people think of the approach. First, my review of "One Day All This Will Be Yours" by Adrian Tchaikovsky.

    Clever, clever, clever, clever

    This book is so good, I almost gave it five stars. Well, actually, I did give it five stars, but that's because people give five stars for crap and I didn't want to bring the average down. Five stars is for great, wonderful books. This is just a really good book. Well written. Funny. Did I mention clever? In a fair world I'd give it four stars.

    I always said that David Gerrold's "The Man Who Folded Himself" was my favorite time travel book, but now this is a contender. I always wondered - if there really could be time travel, how would you keep timelines from getting all tangled up to the point that you couldn't keep them straight anymore. How could you keep time from becoming complete chaos? Answer - You wouldn't. You couldn't.

    Tchaikovsky describes how everything falls apart when nations develop time machines and play the game of mutually assured destruction, not of the world, but of all time. Everyone agrees that no one will ever use time weapons, but then no one could resist taking a chance to win all wars at once for now and forever. Events, if they can even be called events anymore, proceed in a way that is plausible, if anything can even be called plausible anymore. I said to myself - Yeah, that's how it would happen.

    And the protagonist, not hero, sits at the end of time trying to hold the last strands together by murdering anyone who tries to get past him into the future. Clever, clever, clever. Good book. Clever title too.


    What I didn't make explicit in this review are the factors I considered in evaluating this as "a really good book." Rereading the review now, I think those factors included technical mastery; narrative; humor; surprise; and especially intellectual stimulation. The last was not on my original list, so I'll add it now. Actually, saying these are the factors I considered is misleading. I didn't self-consciously and explicitly identify the factors in the review or in my mind while writing.
  • T Clark
    7.6k
    My review of "Titus Groan" by Melvin Peake.

    Wonderful, bleak, lovely, tedious, beautiful, unrelenting

    Six stars. Eleven stars. 432 stars. Tedious and bleak and beautiful. Funny and moving. Wonderfully written and very, very, very slow. Then suddenly, disorientingly sensual. Gormenghast the castle – miles long; dank, moldy, full of hundreds or thousands of unused rooms packed with useless and peculiar things. A tower where the death owls live. A giant dead tree with painted roots growing out the side of the castle. Lives ruled by inflexible, all-encompassing, oppressive, and unrelenting tradition. Gormenghast the land – always raining, too hot or too cold. Gormenghast the mountain – the peak always hidden by clouds.

    The people - Lord Sepulchrave, 76th Earl of Groan, Countess Gertrude, the wonderful, pitiful twins Ladies Cora and Clarice Groan, Mr. Flay, Dr. and Irma Prunesquallor, Swelter, Nannie Slagg, Sourdust, Barquentine, Keda, Rottcodd, Pentecost, The Poet. The Grey Scrubbers. The Mud Dwellers who live outside the castle and spend all their time making beautiful carvings, most of which will be burned. The best of which will be placed in a museum that no one visits. And stuborn, 15-year-old, clumsy, and maybe doomed Lady Fuchia, whom I love with all my heart. And nasty, scheming, capable, admirable, and maybe evil Steerpike. And 1 1/2 year old Titus – 77th Earl of Groan. Everyone; almost everyone; odd, eccentric, and unhappy.

    The plot doesn’t matter – for what it's worth, there is Titus' birth, scheming, betrayal, murder, suicide, a deadly knife fight, bodies eaten by owls, endless ceremonies, drunken revelry, and a toddler standing alone on a raft in the middle of a lake in the rain. The writing, the place, and the people do matter. The words grabbed me by the neck and forced me through the slowest, hardest sections. It felt like the hood of my jacket had gotten caught in a subway door and I was being dragged down the platform. I love this book.
  • jamalrob
    3.7k
    Wonderful, bleak, lovely, tedious, beautiful, unrelenting

    Six stars. Eleven stars. 432 stars. Tedious and bleak and beautiful. Funny and moving. Wonderfully written and very, very, very slow. Then suddenly, disorientingly sensual. Gormenghast the castle – miles long; dank, moldy, full of hundreds or thousands of unused rooms packed with useless and peculiar things. A tower where the death owls live. A giant dead tree with painted roots growing out the side of the castle. Lives ruled by inflexible, all-encompassing, oppressive, and unrelenting tradition. Gormenghast the land – always raining, too hot or too cold. Gormenghast the mountain – the peak always hidden by clouds.

    The people - Lord Sepulchrave, 76th Earl of Groan, Countess Gertrude, the wonderful, pitiful twins Ladies Cora and Clarice Groan, Mr. Flay, Dr. and Irma Prunesquallor, Swelter, Nannie Slagg, Sourdust, Barquentine, Keda, Rottcodd, Pentecost, The Poet. The Grey Scrubbers. The Mud Dwellers who live outside the castle and spend all their time making beautiful carvings, most of which will be burned. The best of which will be placed in a museum that no one visits. And stuborn, 15-year-old, clumsy, and maybe doomed Lady Fuchia, whom I love with all my heart. And nasty, scheming, capable, admirable, and maybe evil Steerpike. And 1 1/2 year old Titus – 77th Earl of Groan. Everyone; almost everyone; odd, eccentric, and unhappy.

    The plot doesn’t matter – for what it's worth, there is Titus' birth, scheming, betrayal, murder, suicide, a deadly knife fight, bodies eaten by owls, endless ceremonies, drunken revelry, and a toddler standing alone on a raft in the middle of a lake in the rain. The writing, the place, and the people do matter. The words grabbed me by the neck and forced me through the slowest, hardest sections. It felt like the hood of my jacket had gotten caught in a subway door and I was being dragged down the platform. I love this book.
    T Clark

    I don't want to take this thread off-topic, but I just want to say that this is a beautiful review of one of my favourite books, though I totally disagree with the oft-heard view that the plot doesn't matter.
  • T Clark
    7.6k
    I don't want to take this thread off-topic, but I just want to say that this is a beautiful review of one of my favourite books, though I totally disagree with the oft-heard view that the plot doesn't matter.jamalrob

    Thank you.
  • Tom Storm
    2.9k
    Nice work TC. These are the kinds of reviews I appreciate because there is something in it for me as a potential consumer. And you have a light, humorous touch. As someone who has written for newspapers and magazines (a second job) for years, it still often surprises me how hard it can be to say something useful and say it clearly.
  • T Clark
    7.6k
    Nice work TC. These are the kinds of reviews I appreciate because there is something in it for me as a potential consumer, namely a clear line for assessment. And you have a light, humorous touch. As someone who has written for newspapers and magazines (a second job) for years, it still often surprises me how hard it can be to say something useful and say it clearly.Tom Storm

    Thank you.

    Do the reviews provide any support for my position that the standard by which the quality of art should be judged is based on the experience of the audience members?
  • Tom Storm
    2.9k
    the standard by which the quality of art should be judged is based on the experience of the audience members?T Clark

    I think this is one line of thought that I can support if i understand it properly. For me the experience of audience members still needs to be parsed. What kind of audience? If you show a Fellini film to people who think Dirty Dancing is a masterpiece they will in all probability be like lost children.

    I keep thinking that the audiences and critics I pay attention to are people who are well read and cultured and have something to bring to their subjectivity - if that makes sense. Christ, I sound like Frasier Crane...
  • Raymond
    649
    The piece shown cannot be defaced because there is no face visible. If the shopping mallers took the brushes and added new strokes, blobs, splashes, colors, in the style of the artist, it wouldn't be noticeable that they added anything. Where are the strokes and colors they added? I'm curious if I can see the difference. "A child can do that too", is often heard. They can't and the people saying that can't either. They think painting is about the mastery of representing a scene. That the mastery to do so is art. In fact, visual realism is the most abstract form of painting. If the mallers had continued it would certainly have been visible, and the work would have been messed up completely.

    At the town square, something similar happened lately. There was a public painting happening. Part of a town fair. It was meant for children only. So it appeared after I joined. I was friendly but urgently asked to put my brush down. I thought this to be ridiculous. The children and me were having fun. Even the police was called, to escort me safely home, for who knows what bad influence I could have.


    Even if this is correct, I can't think of a better approach or theme for an artist.Tom Storm

    I am not sure what you mean.
    The approach and theme being money and ego? Money is nice and in the modern world about the only way to free yourself from the system. So selling what you create is nice. You could make money the story. Nail a couple of 100 notes, jam a few dimes, a few burnt bucks, cut Washington (or is it Lincoln) free from his bill, and make a nice collage of them. "Ceçi, n'est pas de l'argent". I'm not sure people wanna stare at a self portrait of the ego, especially mine (though women might like it, as some men do).
    What approach or theme do you have in mind?

    I don't think an interpretation of an artist's or subject's motivations tell us anything about whether the work is any good or not. :gasp: Some of my favourite artists were probably arseholesTom Storm

    I can't really tell if R was an AH or not. He just floated along in the age of gold. He loved money and fame and would probably get off in his tomb when seeing the masses walking past the Nightwatch in awe, at a safe distance, to prevent them stabbing knives or throwing acid, as has happened before. Rembrandt could paint realistically and add dramatic light. There is a painting where he depicts a breathtaking scene along the Amstel river. Seems it were these scenes he put his heart into. He enjoyed walking along the river and it's in t
    hese paintings he knows how to convey a story. At least, the story I like. He knows to tell the story of the nightwatchers too, that's clear. But the story is frozen in time. So are his views on nature and other paintings he made for himself (not ordered for). Here he depicts his feeling of wonder. Dark skies with bright sun. But is your ability to reproduce the visual and emotional art? Don't think so. That's only art in the sense of being able too. The ordered paintings also told a story. A frozen story with a personal touch.

    I once saw the Nightwatch photographed with real people and another photograph showing "the other side", i.e, that what the nightwatch tries to keep out. That's a telling tale. How would R be valued if the camera was already there? He no doubt had a great technique. Does this qualify you as an artist? Don't know. Everybody can acquire technique. The myth of the gifted artists ìs alive still though. It's necessary maybe, though it's probably more difficult to paint like a child when are no child anymore, which is what is done or attempted manifold, and which can be very funny, tragic, or confronting when the scene is about grown up affairs.

    Anyhow, the story told by R is a static one. One can learn of it. How people dressed, especially the elite. But nothing essential. Tell your own stories about it. R had the technique necessary but so had van Gogh (for his story). VG died poor but it feels he had a true madness towards the story of life. Both the stories of RHvR and vG are well. So both are artists and their work art. What if a drawing of the scene that R painted was discovered and it appeared to be drawn by a bastard son of his, hiding under a table? Would it become valued? Probably yes. Why is an aquarel by Hitler (and again he pops up) sold for 130 000 dollar but considered bad art? Would WW2 not have broken out had he been admitted to Good art has to be part of society (not isolated in musea), either by criticizing it, by expressing the ideas a society is based on, or just by throwing new stories in. Like the art of science and technology is nowadays an overrated part of it. Science can be considered an art just as well. Technology is the paint, and it's the most dominant form of art present, expressing the story of science.
  • T Clark
    7.6k
    I've just started reading "The Principles of Art" by R.G. Collingwood. I came across some historical information that I found interesting and thought others would be interested too. I think it gives perspective on some of the issues we've discussed in this thread.T Clark

    @Tom Storm

    I don't know if you looked at the post I put in on Collingwood's discussion of art vs. craft. If you did, I'd be interested in hearing your response. It opened my eyes a bit and forced me to back up and put our discussion in perspective, which I think was Collingwood's intent. I've often regurgitated my thoughts on the definitions of art I find useful. Maybe I need to add a new one - "Art," in the sense of fine art, is not a useful concept. I'll call this my "We don't need no stinking art" definition.

    That way of seeing things actually helps deal with some issues that have bothered me. When I go to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, they have a section called "Decorative Arts," which Collinwood calls the "useful arts." That section generally includes useful items like furniture, china and porcelain, silverware, glassware, etc. I guess you could add architecture to that list. These are items that challenge my characterization of art as something that doesn't mean anything. It also makes me ask if usefulness is a kind of meaning. On first look, I think it may be.
  • Raymond
    649


    I provide these as evidence that I've tried, and I think mostly succeeded, to be clear that my judgements are based on my personal experience of art. You, on the other hand, present your judgements as dogmatic truthT Clark

    Ah. It's about my presentation. Why shouldn't I present them as dogmatic truth. I don't force anyone to follow my dogma. If people lay value in other dogmas it's up to them. You present your dogma as personal experience.
  • T Clark
    7.6k
    In my immediately previous post, I identify the idea of useful arts as a challenge to the ways of defining art I have been endorsing. That set me thinking about another challenge to those ideas I keep coming back to. I've always been attracted to what is often called "outsider art." In particular I remember a TV report on the work of a man that wasn't discovered until after his death. He had taken his back yard and built I guess what you would call sculptures from castoff items, tin foil, and whatever else he could find. Not one, two, or ten sculptures, but dozens, hundreds. They filled up all the space in the yard.

    Those sculptures were clearly meant to represent the man's understanding and experience of his relationship to the Christian God. The pieces by themselves were interesting and moving, but when considered together they were much more. They presented a coherent vision, created over years and decades, of this man's inner religious life. The work was rough and unsophisticated, but I found it beautiful and inspiring.

    Clearly, the man created this work only for himself as an expression of his feelings for his God. I don't think he ever intended for it to be seen by others and I doubt he had any thoughts of aesthetics.
  • T Clark
    7.6k
    Why shouldn't I present them as dogmatic truth. I don't force anyone to follow my dogma. If people lay value in other dogmas it's up to them. You present your dogma as personal experience.Raymond

    It's not clear to me you understand what the word "dogma" means. The prevalence of inflexible, dogmatic assertions about disputed ideas is one of the reasons people find philosophy hard to take seriously.
  • T Clark
    7.6k
    I think this is one line of thought that I can support if i understand it properly.Tom Storm

    It is not clear that I understand it properly. That's what I'm working on here.
  • Tom Storm
    2.9k
    I don't know if you looked at the post I put in on Collingwood's discussion of art vs. craft. If you did, I'd be interested in hearing your response. It opened my eyes a bit and forced me to back up and put our discussion in perspective, which I think was Collingwood's intent.T Clark

    I'll try to check it out.

    These are items that challenge my characterization of art as something that doesn't mean anything.T Clark

    I have generally drawn a distinction between craft and art. Craft being useful items of daily living that often have a working class or tribal origin. And art as being non-useful objects, generally created for an aesthetic experience, not use. There may be some overlap between the two categories. I think a lot of the latter category - art - has some use in as much as it might be about a culture's dream life and the important stories it tells itself about meaning.
  • T Clark
    7.6k
    I have generally drawn a distinction between craft and art. Craft being useful items of daily living that often have a working class or tribal origin. And art as being non-useful objects, generally created for an aesthetic experience not use.Tom Storm

    One of the reasons Collingwood's explanation struck me is that I remember you making that distinction in previous posts.
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