Friday, 22 June 2007

Good art, bad art, fine art

"Stones, Tree", Avebury, January 2007

I've been reading quite a lot recently about views on art, critics, reviews, the nature of fine art photography etc. this got me thinking about the way I view these various ideas about art & photography (not mutually exclusive as that statement might imply). Here, then, my thoughts:

Good art: art has some sort of purpose to it, a reaction invoked in the viewer. The reaction invoked may, or may not, be what the artist intended but it is there. Good art, for me, is that which invokes the desired reaction in a positive manner - the "I get that, I know what the artist was about" sort of reaction. that doesn't mean that your reaction has to be positive ("I feel all warm and fuzzy"). Succeeding in invoking feelings of anger or disgust may be just as much good in this context. "I like it art" is only a sub-set of Good Art.

Bad art: by it's very nature, not good art. If the artist fails in intentions or the viewer is switched off on viewing, then the work, for that viewer, is bad. I highlight the viewer aspect because art really is in the eye of the beholder. George Barr gets to the nub of this issue talking about not liking art forms. I'll get back to this idea later.

Fine art: sometimes, good or bad, art is well executed and there is inherent quality merely in the presentation and execution of the work. this is Fine Art as I see it. Generally for photography we are talking about great prints with depth of tone, fine detail, broad contrast range. It's the mater of details, the individual brush strokes, seeing the chisel marks, whatever. Such works can be appreciated purely for the craftsmanship, independent of the Goodness demonstrated.

Critical appreciation is all about defining Good Art in ones own mind. I had initially thought that Good Art can stand by itself as an independent work but there is no such thing. all of our views on art are coloured by our experiences, culture, previous exposure to art. the same is true of reviewers: their judgements flow from the works that went before, internal comparisons with their own frame of reference. No one can truly say they are judging a work on its own merits. this is why Good Art and Bad Art must be personal judgements - while the success of a show or gallery may be dependent on the opinion of reviewers, they do not have exclusive insight into the nature of Good and Bad. One must decide for oneself.

1 comment:

  1. art has some sort of purpose to it - I probably go along with this,

    a reaction invoked in the viewer but not with this.

    Would the Mona Lisa (or name any artwork you like) be any less art because nobody had seen it?

    the viewer is switched off on viewing, then the work, for that viewer, is bad. - I agree with this,

    If the artist fails in intentions.... but this is more problematic. How can this be judged from the outside? What if the intention is just to produce an artwork to have the experience of production? What if the intention is independent of the artefact produced?

    Overall, I agree with your view about the individualness of the judgement, but I think that you over-emphasise art as an item of consumption rather than one of production.

    Oh, and I think that 'fine art' is meaningless. It is just a marketing term.

    Thanks for the comment on the related topic on 'photostream' btw.


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