As debates go, the art debate is perhaps one that will never truly satisfy both sides – but art will always be about whatever people perceive it to be. Not even the powers that be or the so-called art system that designates what art is, successfully manages to answer questions such as What is Art? Is it any good? and Why should some art forms be considered art, and others not?
Some artists are more comfortable with video, then they are with canvas or marble. It doesn’t mean that their chosen art form is silly, and it shouldn’t be dismissed as art just because it doesn’t resemble a Gainsborough, a Michelangelo, or a Jackson Pollock. The setting shouldn’t be a factor either or if the art is exhibited in a Gallery or Museum. It is not necessarily a work of art because of where it is. It is not necessarily art because it was written about in an art magazine or because it was shown on an art documentary on TV.
There are some of us that get irritated by what is art or if its any good. It can be hard for some of us to look at a piece of art and be expected to understand it. So we just have to continue to be irritated. It seems that when art takes a particular form that we don’t recognize, we ask “Is this art?”. A group of people in a room trying to agree on what is art? may never reach a consensus on what is good art or bad art. Not even when they try to put themselves in the artist’s shoes. All you can do is to try and understand their work, to discover the artist’s hand, to try to relate to the artwork if you can. If we can’t relate to it, then is it art? Does art even have a consensus? Do we need to change the way we define art? or do we dare to? Perhaps there does have to be some sort of consensus from knowledgeable art people (whoever they are), to let us know if something they deem as art is good or bad, to give us something that we can appreciate, something that can act as a flagship for what is art, and what is good art. The problem is that when you do that and there is nothing to see, then it may no longer exist as art in some people’s eyes.
Being knowledgeable about art or having a good eye, might not be enough to convince people if something is art or if its any good. The way art is evolving, anything might end up being considered as art. You have to ask yourself what it’s about, what does it mean (if anything), when was it made, how was it made, does it make any social contribution, what range of emotions does it provoke to the viewer. By asking good questions as to what art is, this can help us to determine what is or isn’t art.
Art has become more important to us, judging by the number of people that visit galleries and museums, the numbers are up, and people have become and are becoming more ‘art aware’. We are comfortably becoming our own art critics, while still listening to the art elite and to their knowledgeable opinions of what art is. As we become more art aware, we will be able to make more subjective determinations on what art is, and we will know art when we see it. As art becomes more ubiquitous, it might not matter where art is exhibited, or if museums decide not to show it because they don’t think its good enough, it will be more about if we believe it is and when we just get it, regardless of whatever its art form is.