What is art? Well, by definition, art is the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination typically in visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated for their beauty or emotional power. This is not to say that other forms, like writing or public speaking are not an art, or any other endeavor that elicits an emotional response in another person without having a tangible object to admire and touch but lets stay with the visual form for the purposes of this essay.
You will note, that the textbook definition of art did not include the words “good” or “bad”. Art is simply the application of skill and imagination. However, when discussing art on any level the question of good art versus bad art always rears its ugly head. What is good art… what is bad art… after all, isn’t one mans trash is another mans treasure?
Critics were tasked, so very long ago, by very busy people, to preview exhibits and determine whether or not it was worth the time to see based on the taste of the employer. The public was still left to go and judge for themselves. This then evolved into critics talking to other people on whether or not the show was suitable for their employers which in turn translated into the public following suit in an effort to solidify their own standing in a class society. Fast forward many centuries later and you have newspaper critics telling you, the public, what is good enough to see, and what is not worth seeing. Way too much power if you ask me.
To put it simply, good art is what appeals to the general masses and anything that does not fit into that tight little package is deemed as bad art. Following this logic, vanilla ice cream is good as it is clearly accepted by the majority as such, and all other ice cream is bad. I don’t know about you, but I like a good bubble gum ice cream once in a while… call me a rebel.
To make it even worse, politics has its boney little hand in the art world as well. Most national collections are owned by governments, and therefore have a vested interest in telling you that their collections are good, their shows are good, and they do this through government controlled media outlets… yes, hard to believe I know… that the media is corrupt… it’s blowing my mind as well.
So where does that leave us then? I think, now, more than ever in history, we actually have the voice to say… “hey, I like that.. I don’t like that”. I am pretty sure there have been no beheadings as of late for identifying our individual tastes. So lets go out and decide for ourselves what we like and what we don’t care for and leave the labels “good” and “bad” for describing hair cuts, not art. After all, art is the application of skill and imagination and how can a critic possibly tell you what you feel when you are in the presence of someone else’s skill and imagination.
Critics and art snobs are people who spell art with a capital “A” in an attempt to instill a sense of reverence in order to inflate their own feeling of worth, essentially living by being firmly perched on the backs of the working class. Artists spell art with a lower case “a” because they know where it came from.