What is art?

In my last (and first- that's a weird combination of words) art post, I pointed out that all the art I love is of the "I could do that!" variety, and it got me thinking about how we define art. For so many people, it's about things that look aesthetically beautiful. The Mona Lisa, for example, is obviously painted extremely well. I get that. It's art, of course. But for me? It does nothing. It's a painting of a woman. Yawn.
Grayson Perry pots
For me, the important thing is that art has to make me think. Maybe it's something that I can relate to and makes me reflect on my own life, like Emin's Everyone I Ever Slept With 1963-1995 or Perry's The Vanity of Small Differences tapestries. Perhaps it's something that is so bizarrely repulsive that it becomes fascinating, such as Hirst's infamous Mother and Child (Divided) or, my favourite artwork of all time, Quinn's Self (Unfortunately, Self is no longer in its home of the National Portrait Gallery which is a huge shame as I used to love standing next to it and watching people's reactions when they realised what it was made out of). Sometimes I couldn't even explain what it is that I find so engaging about an artwork and that alone is enough to get my brain spinning.

Most of all, I want to feel something. Awe, shock, joy, repulsion, sorrow. I don't care. Just hand me an emotion and make it overwhelming. If you ask me, the real power of an artist is being able to stir a person and make them feel something without ever meeting them. Impressionist water lillies don't do that for me. Sorry, Monet. 

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  1. I always liked Nietzsche's view of art - Art is not merely an imitation of the reality of nature, but in truth a metaphysical supplement to the reality of nature, placed alongside thereof for its conquest."

  2. I meant to comment on your last post as Emin is my favourite artist. My favourite piece of hers is 'the tent' - it's so personal and most people misunderstand the meaning of it. I love it though! And I am loving your art posts!!!

  3. I'm totally with you on this. I am big believer that the best way to explore any art gallery is going 'off book', wandering around and approaching art that catches your eye rather than going straight for the classics. Art for me is supposed to make you feel something, and if you're spending half your time thinking 'I don't get it' then it's not the right kind of art for you :) Xx


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