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*** Mod's note: I have split some posts from an existing thread, to start a separate "what is art?" thread. - sN ***

Okay. The definition of art is a selective recreation of reality based on the artist's value judgments.

This:

meckha-modern-art.jpg

Is "Something piled together."

This:

post-5135-1247341228_thumb.jpg

Is quite obviously a pot of flowers.

This:

post-5135-1247341324_thumb.png

Does not suck me in. And "Sucks you in" is not an objectively definable criteria for art criticism, unless you can describe just what the hell "Sucks you in" means.'

The tubes of paint are also quite obviously tubes of paint. Please show how that is -not- art. It looks like a selective recreation of reality to me.

Please learn the difference between the phrase "This is bad." and "I don't like this."

The criticisms of MissLemon's ART is getting pretty ridiculous.

I know you looked at it for 2 seconds and went "OMG, THE TUBES HAVE FUZZY EDGES, THE FLOWERS ARE MADE UP OF SPLOTCHES OF PAINT, THE ARTIST DIDN'T TRY FOR AN EXACT COPY OF THE SUBJECT. THIS IS ALL BAD ART."

But going by that standard, a movie is not art unless the director uses no camera tricks, lens tints, or perspective changes. By that standard a painting is not art unless it's indistinguishable from the actual subject. This is not what Ayn Rand meant when she said that modern art is not art.

Edited by softwareNerd
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What is art, and how do you judge what is art? That's an important question. First of all, I would emphasize again Ayn Rand's observation that art, like anything else is an entity of a particular nature. How do you arrive at a proper concept of what art is?

The same way you arrive at any other concept: By watching many concretes, omitting their differences and abstracting the essence of it.

Starting with the definition of art provided by Ayn Rand and then work your way down deductively to judge concretes will not work - no one can arrive at correct conclusions doing it this way. One has to arrive at concepts inductively - by observing numerous concretes in reality and abstracting what they have in common. Without this process, a sentence like "Recreation of reality according to an artists metaphysical value judgement" is completely empty, it could mean everything and anything. One has to start by observing cases in reality.

One essential thing about art is that it brings to a perceptual level concepts and ideas which are normally abstract and are not visible.

Things like "A Benevolent world", "pride", "freedom", "safety", "hope" are not things you can normally see or hear. But art concertizes them for you, gives them a physical form giving rise to an emotional reaction in line with how those ideas are in relation to the observer's values. This is the inductive way to form the concept of "art" - to learn the specific nature of art.

One needs to notice that different art forms (literature, dancing, painting, music) have this same essence - they concretize some abstract idea or concept which relates to man's values. (Of course, "Table" is a concept too, but it is not art if someone paints a table, even though it does concretize the concept).

Art gives physical form to ideas and emotions central to man's life - not just to any random idea. This is why art triggers an emotional reaction - because things like "safety", "benevolent world", "pride", "luxury" and even "loss" are important to man's life.

Man has a psychological need to have concretization of these "deep" ideas - even from the days men lived in caves they drew pictures concretizing ideas central to their existence - like men bravely hunting an animal. They wouldn't draw sticks, or a dead man surrounded by bears - but only those ideas which corresponded to the emotional state required for survival (bravery).

Art is Re-creation of reality according to an artist metaphysical value judgement - it means that an artist creates something that he considers important and which is inspiring to him - something that combines elements of that which exists (reality) but according to his implicit metaphysics - his view of the essential nature of the world and of man and how they relate to one another.

For example, if a composer writes a victory marsh he is implicitly describing his view of man's relation to the world: Man is a creature fit to succeed in a world that has obstacles which can be overcome. If the victory marsh is full of music describing suffering - his view of the world is that it is a harsh place.

If a dancer moves with open, fully extended body movements he (or she) are transmitting their view of man as having freedom of action in this world. If a dancer moves randomly, like a jungle ape-dance they are describing their metaphysical view of the world as an unknowable flux in which man is a helpless animal.

It can get to much more complex ideas, but the above explains the essence.

So now keep that in mind, and consider the following examples:

1. A painting realistically imitating a random street scene

2. A painting of a garden of blossoming flowers. (for example: http://www.dinotopia.com/images/art/garden_of_hope.jpg )

3. A painting showing a fearsome warrior facing a dragon in a defiant position

4. A painting of bread

1 and 4 are not art. 2 concretizes beauty (and in the case of the link I gave - also grace and safety). 3 concretizes bravery.

Is #1 a selective recreation of reality according to an artist metaphysical value judgement? No. It expresses none of the artist's view of the world, it deals with no abstract subject. More so, the painting copies the street rather than creating something new. Art is a creative process. A bread by itself conveys no idea central to man's life or to the nature of the world.

So now what kind of abstract idea does a painting like the tubes of paint or the spots of flowers concretize for you? No idea. It is a random object presented in a semi-random way. When an artist has an idea to communicate all the details in the painting are chosen by the execution of this idea as the standard. If an artist wants to express grace, he will not choose red for the color of the sky in the painting I linked. If an artist wants to describe courage he will not choose a background of blue sky with peaceful birds flying around. He must choose a dramatic background that brings the character to the center of the painting's focus.

An artist cannot randomly select err... This one! and then select a background to bring out the object's colors. That's not art. That's a random recreation of reality, not selective recreation of reality, and certainly does not communicate any idea relating to metaphysics.

With that in mind, I'll answer Jackethan's post.

Okay. The definition of art is a selective recreation of reality based on the artist's value judgments.

This:

[Jackethan's first attached image of a vortex of colors]

Is "Something piled together."

This:

[Jackethan's second attached image of MisLemonn's (blots of) pot of flowers]

Is quite obviously a pot of flowers.

I answered this just above. A drawing of an object does not make it art. Art concretizes an idea. Your use of the definition can only be rationalistic if you do not go through the inductive process of abstracting what art is from many instances of it.

This:

[Jackethan's last attached image of "Unlocked" by Maria Schauffers]

Does not suck me in. And "Sucks you in" is not an objectively definable criteria for art criticism, unless you can describe just what the hell "Sucks you in" means.'

What I meant by that was that the blurring of the background, the emphasis of the shine of the keys achieved a high degree of focus on the object and its beauty. Compare that to a a painting of a rusty pair of keys that can barely be distinguished from the background - That would not create a focus on the keys.

It is more difficult to determine the abstract idea here, in her panting (unlike a warrior and a bear), but what she describes metaphysically is the beauty of the world as seen by a peaceful consciousness. Peaceful - because one would have to be very relaxed to observe a pair of keys in such high focus - similarly to how a child would do it. Furthermore there is significance to the object - keys. Suppose instead of keys she would paint a sidewalk or a dead cat in the same focus - it would no longer communicate a peaceful state of mind nor beauty. The nature of keys (shiny and in well kept condition) is significant here - keys unlock something - something valuable to the unlock-er.

Suppose she would paint the most ordinary pair of keys, without any shine or blurring of background - that would simply be like a picture and would have no artistic meaning.

The tubes of paint are also quite obviously tubes of paint. Please show how that is -not- art. It looks like a selective recreation of reality to me.

That's because you are using the definition in a rationalistic way.

Please learn the difference between the phrase "This is bad." and "I don't like this."

Don't get me started now.

The criticisms of MissLemon's ART is getting pretty ridiculous.

What is ridiculous is the agnosticism in this thread.

"The agnostic viewpoint poses as fair, impartial, and balanced.

...

The agnostic miscalculates. He thinks he is avoiding any position that will antagonize anybody. In fact, he is taking a position which is much more irrational than that of a man who takes a definite but mistaken stand on a given issue, because the agnostic treats arbitrary claims as meriting cognitive consideration and epistemological respect." (Leonard Peikoff on Agnosticism: link)

In this case the replace 'arbitrary claims" with "arbitrary art" (or attempt at art). Here agnosticism takes the form of "Who are YOU to judge what is art and what is not? Let's say everybody's stuff are art, and then we will be fair, non-insulting and everybody will get along".

I know you looked at it for 2 seconds and went "OMG, THE TUBES HAVE FUZZY EDGES, THE FLOWERS ARE MADE UP OF SPLOTCHES OF PAINT, THE ARTIST DIDN'T TRY FOR AN EXACT COPY OF THE SUBJECT. THIS IS ALL BAD ART."

Well, I guess this is one thought that might occur to someone looking at them. As for me - I don't take realistic copying of objects as a standard of art (as I explained). The paintings simply did not communicate any central idea, trigger no emotion (other than resentment that I am expected to treat it as art, but this is beside the point). The drawing of the woman - I can call it art. It vaguely, in a small amount reflects some state of mind or view about the world. (However, it is still more random than having a clear central idea. The expression does not express any particular state of mind, character trait or emotion clearly. I would still call it art if the technique was the same level but a clear idea was communicated).

But going by that standard, a movie is not art unless the director uses no camera tricks, lens tints, or perspective changes. By that standard a painting is not art unless it's indistinguishable from the actual subject. This is not what Ayn Rand meant when she said that modern art is not art.

Realism was never my criteria for judging if her paintings are art or not, though obviously some level of realism is necessary to communicate any artistic idea.

Edit: fixed a sentence that had an unclear meaning.

Edited by ifatart
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So now keep that in mind, and consider the following examples:

1. A painting realistically imitating a random street scene

2. A painting of a garden of blossoming flowers. (for example: http://www.dinotopia.com/images/art/garden_of_hope.jpg )

3. A painting showing a fearsome warrior facing a dragon in a defiant position

4. A painting of bread

1 and 4 are not art. 2 concretizes beauty (and in the case of the link I gave - also grace and safety). 3 concretizes bravery.

And my point is, your definitions of art are subjective:

With 1: The artist paints a random street scene, in it he is demonstrating the drive of human beings to get where they need to go. Some are going to work, some are going to play, some to eat, but they all meet here. Some are smiling at eachother and saying hello, others are shyly looking at their feet as they walk. Some are in cars, one car stops while turning left to let a pedestrian walk across the street. The point of the work is a study, a study in the benevolent universe premise. The artist went out to the street, found just any random street, and decided to paint exactly what he saw there. What he found were people being polite, people being happy, and people in a hurry to get to their goals. The entire purpose of humanity summed in one painting.

With 4: The painter displays a loaf of bread. It is simple, with no obvious meaning, however there is some meaning to what he painted. He did not paint a can of soup, or a glass of wine, or some grapes, he painted bread. Perhaps he painted it sitting on a dark wood table, in a dark room, where the only light shines on this piece of bread. What is bread? It is the civilization food. It is made of grains, a nearly infinitely renewable food source. Through grains and their product, bread, mankind rose from the squalor of villages and tiny huts to bustling populated cities, able to feed any size of populace so long as the steady supply of grain was possible. When a beggar on the street in ancient times asked for food, he wanted bread. Usually, what he got was bread. In nearer history, paintings of food were highly valued, as food was a valuable commodity, those able to afford food had to be rich. (Previous fact thanks to West.) The artist is portraying the tool of man's ascendence from tribalism, his rise as the dominant animal on this earth, and bearing testament to man's ingenuity, for to have bread, you must have a mill, a furnace, and the know how to make dough.

You can apply such meanings to any art, and indeed, that is the best method of enjoying art, however you claimed that your definition of art is objective and self evident. I do not see how. Your definition seems to be completely subjective.

It is more difficult to determine the abstract idea here, in her panting (unlike a warrior and a bear), but what she describes metaphysically is the beauty of the world as seen by a peaceful consciousness. Peaceful - because one would have to be very relaxed to observe a pair of keys in such high focus - similarly to how a child would do it. Furthermore there is significance to the object - keys.

I just saw some keys, I see keys like that every day; when I open my door.

What is ridiculous is the agnosticism in this thread.

I am not being agnostic, I'm not asking you to be 'fairer' to MissLemon, to like her art, or even to say her art has any value. I saw what I think is a flaw in your definition of art, and I was tired of it going unchallenged in this thread. My post does not suggest a compromise between you and MissLemon, nor do I suggest widening the definition of art to include anybody. I don't really think anyone else has either.

Also, I appreciate the comprehensive and polite response to my post. Thank you. :)

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And my point is, your definitions of art are subjective:

With 1: The artist paints a random street scene, in it he is demonstrating the drive of human beings to get where they need to go. Some are going to work, some are going to play,

No, what you're describing is an IDEA behind a painting, essentially - productiveness, which *would* make it art. I deliberately talked about a RANDOM street scene.

With 4: The painter displays a loaf of bread. It is simple, with no obvious meaning, however there is some meaning to what he painted. He did not paint a can of soup, or a glass of wine, or some grapes, he painted bread. Perhaps he painted it sitting on a dark wood table, in a dark room, where the only light shines on this piece of bread. What is bread? It is the civilization food. It is made of grains, a nearly infinitely renewable food source.

I meant a painting of a bread, nothing more. As in, white canvas, and in it a painting of bread, no special stylization. If you want to add a golden light shining on the bread, some golden wheat next to it and a dark wood table, you have an idea going on. Otherwise (without special emphasis on anything), you don't.

To throw in some examples: if the bread is painted sliced, and the slices look crisp and fresh - he emphasizes the value of bread as food. If he shows bread next to wheat, he emphasizes bread as a creation of man because he links it to its origin. Adding a dark wood table adds the settings of a home, which emphasizes security, a safe home with the simplest food. If the artist adds abundance of ingredients that could go with bread he is looking at it from the eyes of a chef, celebrating the diversity of creating wonderful tastes.

But just a piece of bread without stylization communicated no idea. It is exactly you who is subjective by forcing your connotations on a painting that does not communicate them.

Not that this is wrong to do - I think it's a natural thing to think of one's connotations and ideas relating to different objects (people, or scenes), but so long as it is clear that that's what they are, and you don't present it as something that is objectively actually there.

Second point here, is that I did not provide any definitions.

You can apply such meanings to any art, and indeed, that is the best method of enjoying art,

Maybe you can enjoy it, but it is not an objective interpretation. You essentially project your associations on a painting that does not communicate that idea.

however you claimed that your definition of art is objective and self evident. I do not see how. Your definition seems to be completely subjective.

I did not define anything, I was describing

I just saw some keys, I see keys like that every day; when I open my door.

No, you don't. Keys don't normally look like she showed them.

Also, I appreciate the comprehensive and polite response to my post. Thank you. :)

You were not as polite to me when you told me "please learn to distinguish between "I don't like it" and "this is bad" ", before you asked me to demonstrate why it is objectively not art. But please, let's leave it behind, I don't see any value in talking about that.

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I spent some time thinking about this issue a couple of weeks ago. But I haven't had time to edit properly what I wrote. I will say that it is clear by Ayn Rand's definition that art has to criteria--all art: "re-creation of reality" and "selected according to an Artist's metaphysical value-judgments". So the bread as something re-created does meet the first criteria of art. The second one is more tricky: what does a picture of bread express metaphysically? What are metaphysical value-judgments? They deal with issues related to the nature of existence and man's RELATIONSHIP to existence. For example, it is not quite clear, according to this criteria, how a mountaineous landscape is art, though re-created, if there is no single man in the picture?

Hmm. [gotta go this instant, sorry].

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Also - In the Romantic Manifesto Ayn Rand discusses specifically what is art, in "Art and cognition". She explains it better than I do, she understands the subject completely (unlike me). I recommend reading it.

I'll put some quotes from there later on.

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I spent some time thinking about this issue a couple of weeks ago. But I haven't had time to edit properly what I wrote. I will say that it is clear by Ayn Rand's definition that art has to criteria--all art: "re-creation of reality" and "selected according to an Artist's metaphysical value-judgments". So the bread as something re-created does meet the first criteria of art.

Not if the bread is simply copied. *Selective* RE-creation means that the object is stylized, emphasized in a certain meaningful way. Meaningful, like, say, a golden light shining on the part the artist wishes to emphasize - not blue background with purple dots, because it reminds me of the dress I had when I was 5.

The second one is more tricky: what does a picture of bread express metaphysically?

You're taking a subjective approach. you don't start with a picture and then attach your own connotations to it - that's not an objective way to analyze art.

If you see a pair of keys and they remind you of the time your brother scratched your leg with them to teach you a lesson, and you say "oh, this painting represents the evil of mankind" - that is not objective. If you look at the nature of keys - an object that keeps safe, and gives access to a valued property, and you use this fact to interpret a piece, then it is objective.

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Not if the bread is simply copied. *Selective* RE-creation means that the object is stylized, emphasized in a certain meaningful way. Meaningful, like, say, a golden light shining on the part the artist wishes to emphasize - not blue background with purple dots, because it reminds me of the dress I had when I was 5.

You're taking a subjective approach. you don't start with a picture and then attach your own connotations to it - that's not an objective way to analyze art.

If you see a pair of keys and they remind you of the time your brother scratched your leg with them to teach you a lesson, and you say "oh, this painting represents the evil of mankind" - that is not objective. If you look at the nature of keys - an object that keeps safe, and gives access to a valued property, and you use this fact to interpret a piece, then it is objective.

[i'm back for the writing of this post merely]. I spoke not of any dress. So you don't agree that all art has the two criteria I named, which I got from the definition of Miss Rand? If you can name the metaphysical value-judgments an artist manages to express, and if he re-creates something real, is it not art? My statment may be rationalistic but it certainly is not subjective, and I doubt it is the former either.

So an object such as bread is only art if the style implies something metaphysical, but not if it is there as merely copied as if it were on the painter's table? I'm not a painter so I don't know. I would say that the simplistic bread copied from the table is still art, though bad art. Let's say he takes a picture and then just copies the photograph. The style can still be spectacular--but what does the subject say? Wouldn't it have to say something metaphysical to be considered art? When I use 'metaphsyical value-judgments' it is synonymous with 'sense of life' in my mind: both are metaphysical expressions.

In literature this is all much easier to observe. I must say I find this painting a little difficult.

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[i'm back for the writing of this post merely]. I spoke not of any dress. So you don't agree that all art has the two criteria I named, which I got from the definition of Miss Rand?

Wow, my eyes must be deceiving me; I thought I saw something about keys and a dress--but still, I said nothing about 'legs' either ...

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... The style can still be spectacular--but what does the subject say? Wouldn't it have to say something metaphysical to be considered art? When I use 'metaphsyical value-judgments' it is synonymous with 'sense of life' in my mind: both are metaphysical expressions ...

So if in the case when the subject and composition is not good enough to be considered art in the context of expressing metaphysical value-judgments, can style alone be sufficient when it is able to express something fundamental about perception? It seems that it is possible for the subject to be dull, but the style brilliant and expressive. And also the style to be brilliant yet elusive or distracting (impressionism), and yet the subject and the painter's strange success in using an unnatural style of painting to give the metaphysical effect he desires. For example, I cannot escape the delight in Monet's painting of sun over a body of water; it expresses a certain mood that, for me, is not at all malevolent. There is the uneasiness to my perception, but with enough effort, there is a nice mood it evokes. Moods are not standards, of course. But is there something objective in such a painting that makes it objectively good? [i'm thinking specifically of the painting Thomas Crown (P. Brosnan) stole in the movie The Thomas Crown Affair]. I am certainly an amateur in the realm of painting appreciation. So please help guide me.

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I think that the painting of a loaf of bread and a streetscene are indeed art. Regardless of how dedicated he is to depicting reality truly and accurately, the painter will inevitably have to make choices about what to include, how to represent the objects he perceives, etc. More importantly, as Jackethan pointed out, the artist is making a choice by deciding what scene to represent in the first place. This cannot be totally random, as if the artist spun a wheel and landed on a streetscene or a loaf of bread rather than a sea otter. Instead, the artist must have paused on the relevant street/intersection at one point in time, pondered it, considered it interesting, and then decided to portray it as accurately as possible in a painting. This is a selective judgment of reality according to the artist's values. Lastly, it is crucial to note that the artist will not be able to portray reality exactly as it is, without any sort of embellishment. He necessarily has to make some sort of selective value judgment about reality, because his palette and brushwork will never properly match the color and texture of the objects he is painting.

As a pedagogical example of the content of this post, take a look at Rene Magritte's Treachery of Images here. Read about the painting here. I think that Magritte's picture illustrates one of the most important lessons in the study of art.

Edited by adrock3215
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I think that the painting of a loaf of bread and a streetscene are indeed art. Regardless of how dedicated he is to depicting reality truly and accurately, the painter will inevitably have to make choices about what to include, how to represent the objects he perceives, etc. More importantly, as Jackethan pointed out, the artist is making a choice by deciding what scene to represent in the first place. This cannot be totally random, as if the artist spun a wheel and landed on a streetscene or a loaf of bread rather than a sea otter. Instead, the artist must have paused on the relevant street/intersection at one point in time, pondered it, considered it interesting, and then decided to portray it as accurately as possible in a painting. This is a selective judgment of reality according to the artist's values. Lastly, it is crucial to note that the artist will not be able to portray reality exactly as it is, without any sort of embellishment. He necessarily has to make some sort of selective value judgment about reality, because his palette and brushwork will never properly match the color and texture of the objects he is painting.

As a pedagogical example of the content of this post, take a look at Rene Magritte's Treachery of Images here. Read about the painting here. I think that Magritte's picture illustrates one of the most important lessons in the study of art.

Just because an artist selects something for a subject and presents it in some way which is not the same as in reality does not make it art.

A painter can choose to paint a smashed can of beans, because he has no idea what he likes and he wants to paint something. He cannot make it fully realistic, so therefore it is art. Would you say this also follows from your description of what is art? If not, where did I get it wrong?

I also don't think the pipe is art. It is definitely stylized but it communicates no fundamental idea, nothing meaningful to human life or cognition. I'm not fully sure about this one, though.

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Here is another example I thought of to illustrate what makes something art or not...

I like the human figure. Suppose I decide to draw it for the purpose of studying anatomy. It looks like nothing more that a lifeless body, since my purpose was study of anatomy. Is it art? I would say no.

It is only when I communicate something meaningful about the human figure that it becomes art. Like a facial expression or position communicating something central to human beings.

For example: This is a stylized presentation of the human body, undoubtedly chosen by the artist as something valuable to him. But it has no distinctive meaning, and I would not call it art. This is a stylized drawing of a man that expresses a moment of observation, or inquiry, which is an essential cognitive and emotional state. This is art, because it concretizes something meaningful for human life.

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It is only when I communicate something meaningful about the human figure that it becomes art. Like a facial expression or position communicating something central to human beings.

Communicate to whom? Meaningful to whom? Your position appears to be that a work of art doesn't become art until someone other than the artist views it and identifies the artist's intended meaning. Or, more precisely, that it doesn't become art until you believe that you have identified the artist's intended meaning. It sounds as if you're proposing the idea that your own tastes and sensitivities are the universal standard for determining what is and is not art.

What if people who are viewing the art are fairly inept at finding meaning in art? What if they're the type of people who aren't very sensitive to understanding subtleties of the expressiveness of form and body language, and they generally only find meaning in art which spells things out for them in an obvious manner? Should their tastes be the standard by which others, who don't have the same aesthetic insensitivities, determine what is or is not art?

J

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It is unavoidable: when a person draws something the result is art.

"Drawing something" means, drawing a world of objects "out there."

Living in reality and having to act, there is no choice about it: every man operates on the basis of SOME ideas about it. The only choice he has is: which ideas?

So, as soon as somebody chooses to draw something, he automatically expresses his ideas about what is important. This comes to bear from the first moment his pencil touches the paper: what does he NOTICE about the object he selected? That is ALWAYS a value judgment, whether the artist acknowledges it or not.

Further, there will always be SOME integration, some level of abstraction that binds the elements into a composition. By default, the highest level of abstraction that the artist had in his subconscious mind--this is the highest meaning of the piece of art. (Even a drawing that was done by someone who does not believe he has choice, expresses an idea. If it is good art, it will probably express Determinism.)

Further, the artist does not need to know explicitly, in words, what the abstraction is, for it to be a GOOD, integrated piece of art. Knowing meaning explicitly helps an artist develop his art. But at the moment of creation, the artist should FEEL, not think. This level of consciousness is what allows the artist to create art that is really ALIVE. When you are in the thick of creating, you should FEEL, and think later. The feeling is what IN FACT integrates the elements. If the artist only had the THOUGHT (and did not feel it), the idea will not be registered and won't be FELT when looking at the artwork.

The abstraction in a work of art should reach the viewer's consciousness THROUGH feeling.

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As a pedagogical example of the content of this post, take a look at Rene Magritte's Treachery of Images here. Read about the painting here. I think that Magritte's picture illustrates one of the most important lessons in the study of art.

I think the pipe is art and GOOD art for that matter.

I also don't think the pipe is art. It is definitely stylized but it communicates no fundamental idea, nothing meaningful to human life or cognition. I'm not fully sure about this one, though.

Wrong! It conveys the message that images are not reality, is that not an idea? A very meaningful idea to life and cognition?

So, as soon as somebody chooses to draw something, he automatically expresses his ideas about what is important. This comes to bear from the first moment his pencil touches the paper: what does he NOTICE about the object he selected? That is ALWAYS a value judgment, whether the artist acknowledges it or not.

This seems like it should be obvious, but so many here seem to disagree.

How can any artist draw or paint anything without selecting a subject and making value judgments as they create the composition?

As so many have already pointed out, what the artist intends as the "meaning" of his art is not what all viewers of the art will see or understand.

Also, if someone paints a masterpiece, full of metaphysical meaning and puts it in a closet where no one else ever sees it...I say that painting is still a piece of ART in reality, even if it is never seen by anyone but the artist.

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For example: This is a stylized presentation of the human body, undoubtedly chosen by the artist as something valuable to him. But it has no distinctive meaning, and I would not call it art. This is a stylized drawing of a man that expresses a moment of observation, or inquiry, which is an essential cognitive and emotional state. This is art, because it concretizes something meaningful for human life.

Both examples are art. Both are representational recreations; both present an intelligible subject.

What you describe above is a measure of quality (the second is better).

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Both examples are art. Both are representational recreations; both present an intelligible subject.

That's not enough to make something art. If it was, every painted commercial poster would be art too.

Art concretizes concepts central to human life. A stylized presentation of a concrete is not art. It is a concrete, not concretization.

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Just because an artist selects something for a subject and presents it in some way which is not the same as in reality does not make it art.

Yes it does. I provided the reasons above. The painter is exercising judgment according to his values and expressing it through his representation of the "something" in "some" way.

A painter can choose to paint a smashed can of beans, because he has no idea what he likes and he wants to paint something. He cannot make it fully realistic, so therefore it is art. Would you say this also follows from your description of what is art? If not, where did I get it wrong?

Yes, it would be art. Whatever arbitrary distinction you are drawing between art and non-art in your head, you should move away from. The only line between art and non-art is representation. Art as representation (which has its philosophical roots in Aristotle's Poetics) is the only qualification. What is typically referred to as art as form (which has its philosophical roots mainly in Kant) is not art, because it is generally not concerned with the representation of reality. You can trace its development from the Realists of the 19th century through the Impressionist, Cubist, and Dada movements, to the Abstract Expressionism of Jackson Pollock.

I also don't think the pipe is art. It is definitely stylized but it communicates no fundamental idea, nothing meaningful to human life or cognition. I'm not fully sure about this one, though.

Actually, you're not seeing the fundamental idea behind the painting. The image is imbued with meaning. As I assume you read, the French text translates to "This is not a pipe." This is a somewhat profound statement, because there is quite obviously a pipe above the text. Magritte's point is that what he has portrayed is not actually a pipe, it is only an image of a pipe. Hence, even his still life image of a pipe involves some sort of process of selection on the part of the artist. In other words, some bias.

For more analysis of Magritte's meaning, check out Foucault's book on the subject. Foucault thought that Magritte also offered a profound thought on the nature of language. He talks about, for example, the use of the word "this" in Magritte's sentence. The term can be interpreted as referring to several things: 1.) the painting, 2.) the sentence, or 3.) the word itself.

Edited by adrock3215
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Ayn Rand explains that art serves the function of integrating man's mind - his conceptual faculty and emotional faculty with his senses.

Man’s profound need of art lies in the fact that his cognitive faculty is conceptual, i.e., that he acquires knowledge by means of abstractions, and needs the power to bring his widest metaphysical abstractions into his immediate, perceptual awareness. Art fulfills this need: by means of a selective re-creation, it concretizes man’s fundamental view of himself and of existence.

(bold emphasis added by me)

Art does exactly that - brings widest metaphysical abstractions into perceptual level. If it doesn't - it is not art.

Now maybe you folks would like to explain to me what metaphysical abstractions the first drawing of a man I linked concretizes? Please don't say "man", because then every stylized version of a man is art, even a stickman is a stylized presentation of the concept "man".

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What would be some examples of these widest metaphysical abstractions?
Think a happy Disney movie that says "life is a box of chocolates".

However, a rough sketch of the man that Ifat pointed too could definitely also be art.

Edited by softwareNerd
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I understand, but can't resist, besides the wide metaphysical abstraction, "life is a box of chocolates," what would be some others?

Of that question, I am sincere.

The phrase I've heard, "life sucks, then you die"?

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