Is It Art?

How do you view art? For some art must have a message, be it socially relevant or relevant only to the creator and viewer. For others it must be visually appealing. Some critics view these requisites as being mutually exclusive. Both groups mostly agree the work should be well made – a phrase that is not always, itself, well defined.

By virtue of the limitations of the materials, works of art on paper are short lived without special care and even seemingly sturdy and durable oils paints deteriorate in ways that are often slow enough that it goes mostly unnoticed. Of course conditions matter as is the case with pre-historic cave art. Often these have gone unseen, hidden in dark places only to begin immediate and rapid deterioration when revealed to the light of day – and human beings’ carelessness.

Who defines “art” varies with era. Historically, it is those with power over others who defines what art is and how much or how little it and its creators should be valued. In our own age we are at once torn between traditional definitions and our own particular viewpoints. The terms craft and art begin to blur with the distinction shifting to functional art versus decorative art.

Of course taste varies by individual despite the prevalence of replicas of some arbiter-of-style’s declarations. It takes a bit of independent determination to show off one’s personal style, be it in the home or on one’s body. I like to think that distinctiveness of style is one of the more interesting aspects of being human.

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