Monday, February 1, 2010

Should Art Be Intentional and Representational? What is art?

Should art be intentional and representational to be considered art? That's a "chicken and egg" thought-inducing question. First, what is art? I've always thought of art as being something eye-catching and pleasing. Art can be presented in different forms such as a picture or sculpture. It can be permanent or temporary. Art can be created and destroyed. Is it art only when the object exists or can the memory of the piece in the minds of the viewers be art as well? Is this similar to digital art that is not tangible? If someone photographs the piece, is the resulting image considered art? Does art necessarily have to be decorative? Could the work of a fashion designer be considered art?

Most likely, I could ask myself these questions for an eternity. Now for the biggest question - do I have a definitive answer? Actually, as I attempt to determine an answer to these questions, I find myself in a mental debate! Considering this quandary, I think I'll go back to my original assessment - art is something that is eye-catching and pleasing. And of course, left open to the viewer to determine.

Should art be intentional? Not really. I can intend to paint a picture of a flower. Along the way, I may decided my flower looks more like a tree so now I am painting a tree. Considering my painting skills, this is entirely possible! I end up with a painting, which is what I intended but is it a work of art that is intentional? If I intended to evoke a certain emotion when my work is viewed but nobody experiences that emotion, is my piece considered to be intentional? I think art can be either intentional or not. If the creator has a goal for the piece and reaches that goal, then it is intentional art. If the result is something other than what was originally intended, it is still art.

Should art be representational? I don't think so! Representational art depicts a subject that is easily recognizable. When I see a fabulous photograph of a tree, I know it is a tree right off. It is art. I can also see a work that is simply a mix of different colors and shapes that I cannot recognized as anything known to me. The piece can still be pleasing. It is art. If the purpose of art is documentation, I believe it must be representational. An example would be photojournalism. Another would be a portrait. After all, would giving your aunt a face lift through manipulation be a true documentation of her? Of course, it could represent what she looks like in her own mind!

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