Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Defining art

Yawning leopard, Tanzania, January 2009

Following on from this post, Paul Butzi has got a good conversation going on the subject.

I need to clarify a particular issue that I was grappling with.

There is the Establishment (that is, the galleries, curators, critics) view of Art which implies that only Artists (the careerists) can produce it. Whatever the masses are doing, it's not art. Somewhat by inference is the idea that what is put forward as Art can be the only good art, and as a result of that logic only Artists ever produce good art (not that all they do is seen as good). Or at least, that seems to be the way things go these days. In the foregoing, one could replace Photography and Photographer for Art and Artist with much the same effect.

And I think that's bunkum. Specific to photography: if you're taking photographs with any seriousness - with purpose - then you're a photographer (some might say that you don't even need the purpose). As Paul says, if you're making art, you get to call yourself an artist, although I may not agree on your definition of art, nor agree whether it's any good.

It was somewhat my response to some of the work presented in the camera club exercise. Here was work that I was supposed to know or recognise as Art, good at that, and I just wasn't buying it in all cases.

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