Field Theory by Hadyn Green

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Field Theory: A post about art (sort of)

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  • 81stcolumn,

    “Art is identified by the Art World; that is not circular. The Art World is everybody involved in art: curators, critics, dealers, the interested public.”

    Art is identified by the Art World.

    Art = Art world.

    Circular, as Art appears on both sides of the equation.

    The Art world as you put it, has a presumed knowledge of what Art is, where has this come from ?

    Who gets to define; curators, critics, dealers, the interested public ? And does this require community agreement ?

    For example if I decide I am interested and decide I am an Artist does that make what I produce Art ?

    If my wife is interested in my drawings does that make them Art ?

    If the Art world changes does the definition of Art change with it ?

    Oh, and then there’s this guy

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 727 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Bet this blowtorched beauty by Wacko Giaco would give the Tripod a run for its money...

    A run for our money you mean surely?

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7386 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    A run for our money you mean surely?

    Ha, not "our" money, we live in Auckland ha ha ha... ooops. yes our money is. your money down in Wellington. Thanks Rodders.
    ;-)

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4875 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    Art = Art world.

    Circular, as Art appears on both sides of the equation.

    Your equation, not mine: Art and the Art World are not the same thing.

    The Art world as you put it, has a presumed knowledge of what Art is, where has this come from ?

    Art is not a substance, like gin or couscous. It is a term given to artistic practices. The 'first instance' argument mentioned by Lyndon also falls on this part. The practices we regard as art (painting, dancing, acting, etc) existed long before they were recognised as art

    Who gets to define; curators, critics, dealers, the interested public ? And does this require community agreement ?

    Everyone; it requires consensus, but not agreement.

    For example if I decide I am interested and decide I am an Artist does that make what I produce Art ?

    If my wife is interested in my drawings does that make them Art ?

    No: you need to be accepted, by people more disinterested than your wife.

    If the Art world changes does the definition of Art change with it ?

    It is all in flux.

    Oh, and then there’s this guy

    Mine, I think: Vetriano is admired by many but not by the Art World. He is not represented in public musuems. He is an artist - what else could he be? He is just not a very good artist.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    He claims that one of the failures of Dickey's theory is...

    (iii) its failure to distinguish good from bad art;

    Aye, there's the rub. It is not the business of philosophical aesthetics to make that distinction.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    I keep hearing these judgement calls , good Art V bad Art. I can't agree.
    If something is done as a form of expression and fails to express that expression it is not bad Art it is merely a failure of expression. I would go as far as to say attempt of expression and its failure in itself classifies as Art, not so much a large tent as a marquee. Art for Arts sake, on the other hand is but an interpretation of expression rather than an expression in and of itself.
    One of the arguments I'm hearing is like "If you wear a beret and a smock all you need is a canvas and a brush then you are an artist".

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4875 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Everyone; it requires consensus, but not agreement.

    If there is consensus, surely everyone agrees?

    Since Nov 2006 • 6205 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    Should have put that better: general agreement, but with room to disagree on specifics.

    Aesthetic conservatives often claim that non-representational works are not art. But what else can they be? Some may dislike them, but as works of art. If they were anything else, the question would not arise.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4875 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    For example if I decide I am interested and decide I am an Artist does that make what I produce Art ?

    If my wife is interested in my drawings does that make them Art ?

    No: you need to be accepted, by people more disinterested than your wife.

    I don't think this 'small-tent' interpretation is Dickie's. I seem to recall his position being wider: pretty much anyone can be a member of the 'art-world'. And as a 'member' can confer the status/role of art on what they produce.
    But maybe that was the intrepretation of my lecturer... who was a paid-up subscriber :)
    The institutional theory of art seemed a little like democracy: y'know- the worst possible theory of art, except for all the others :)

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 1574 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    You mean the paradox that it is not on Wikipedia, unlike the Abilene Paradox?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    seem to recall his position being wider: pretty much anyone can be a member of the 'art-world'. And as a 'member' can confer the status/role of art on what they produce.

    An awful lot of people can belong to the Art World, but most are not artists. Danto finesses the argument to say that a work of art must be presented as art to the Art World. It is not that anything an artist produces is art; there must be a conscious act of declaring an object to be art by its creator.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    there must be a conscious act of declaring an object to be art by its creator

    Yeah, I remember that. But I think it also allowed for confering the 'status' (and I don't mean that as high or low!) of art on artifacts later by the art-world (eg: Cheval's castle; or cave-paintings).
    And it also 'allows' an art-work that no-one but the creator ever sees to be art: let's say a painting, created conciously as art, but burnt by accident or design.
    Dickie is deliberately 'big-tent' in that respect. As well as deliberately being agnostic on any artifact being 'good' or 'bad' art. (Defining art is hard enough: a definition which- as many people want or expect- also confers some notion of quality is way harder :)

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 1574 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    You mean the paradox that it is not on Wikipedia, unlike the Abilene Paradox?

    I might do... I might not.
    Contrair?
    Mio?

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4875 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    The practices we regard as art (painting, dancing, acting, etc) existed long before they were recognised as art

    So - re the historical events - they weren't art then but they are now?

    And the art world is temporally prior to art? Actually I'm imagining some co-evolutionary thing invloving thresholds, which is quite possible.

    And I don't really want to perpetuate my part in the argument, except to note that I disagree that (what I'll call) the academy is necessary to a definition.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1096 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    One of the things that has amused me over the years, is the, um, transfiguration of a lot of Maori artefacts from being reguarded as anthropological material to being recognised as works of art. Which they are.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    there must be a conscious act of declaring an object to be art by its creator

    I never understood that. The paintings that my children make are art. What else could they be? They're not painted or drawn by numbers. They're terrible and nobody but us would want to pin them to their fridge, but that's beside the point. In fact, one of the best artists I've seen at work was a woman with a severe intellectual disability who painted and drew with the same attitude as a child, and certainly didn't declare any of the final products to be art. But everybody else thought they were, and they fetched in fact quite a bit of money on the market.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7386 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    So - re the historical events - they weren't art then but they are now?

    I think there was a time before art. Larry Shiner argues that art was invented in the 18th Century, a part of the great enlightenment project of classification. I think the invention is a result of the Renaissance. Certainly, before the 14th Century, there were few individuals noted for their skills and no theories of art. There was creative practice, but it was more a communal, anonymous activity.

    I too think the art world and art co-evolved.

    The appropriation of historic work and of that of other societies is an activity which I omitted to mention. I have my reservations about this, but the art world appropriates wherever it goes. If you imagine a big cube travelling through space, assimilating any beings with which it came in contact, it would be a bit like that.

    I don't think children's drawings or the crafts of indigenous peoples are art as such, but I don't think that diminishes their value. We are captivated by the idea of art, at least a romantic notion of it, and desire all forms of creativity to be regarded as art. Things don't need to be art to have value.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Ah - at last -craft v. art.
    I do not think a jade-carver in China would fail to recognise the art of the many (frequently but not always) non-functional items in poenamu here. I know there isnt a jade connessieur who doesnt esteem all these items as art.

    The people who carved these things, wove these things, reguarded them as both practical/useful AND as artworks. That was the way we were. And are getting back to being.

    However, I do understand that a lot of academics have trouble in recognising "women's crafts" (knitting, tatting, embroidery et al) as "art." Or "the crafts of indigenous peoples" as art.To my mind, this is a false dichotomy.

    "Things dont need to be art to have value." Indeed. Except the value tends to be sentimental, historic rather then monetary-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Ah - at last -craft v. art.

    The Etruscans had what we call "artigianato artistico" - artistic craft? - centred around their funerary customs. Sculptors would design and fashion amazing sarcophagi and urns which would then be mass produced by artisans. Fascinating stuff.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7386 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    There is a big difference between an object that is made mostly for aesthetic appreciation and one which has another primary purpose but is also beautifully decorated. I think one would struggle to find similar purposes in their making. A beautifully carved bowl has to fulfill the primary purpose of a container; its beauty is secondary. A painting is primarily of aesthetic value, any other values being secondary and usually incidental.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Paul Litterick - I dont think there was that dichotomy between aesthetic appreciation and utility: if a thing didnt work, it wasnt beautiful. If a thing wasnt beautiful, it didnt work (that is a kind of ill-translation, of "He ataahua,he ora, he ora, he ataahua".)

    I think you arguing from a very recent European perspective. And that isnt necessarily productive in looking at a vast corpus of art/craft (which just happens to made in former times- while there is speculation about what drove our ancestors to create 'cave-art' in Africa & Europe & China, we have no idea
    whether it was a mystical/druggy compulsion - or family feasting. Or some other unfathomable cause.)

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    Stephen Davies has a very useful theory of functional beauty which encompasses the idea. But art is not of that kind, because works of art do not work. By work of art, I mean an object made primarily for aesthetic appreciation, a kind of object which is a European invention. The European perspective in this matter is unavoidable.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    The problem with that idea is that a plain spade works as a spade whereas a beautiful carved spade still works as a spade but also as an object of aesthetic appreciation. It totally beats me why the work of the person who carved this spade shouldn't be considered art. Perhaps because it was the only art that poor people could afford?

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7386 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    Sculptors would design and fashion amazing sarcophagi and urns which would then be mass produced by artisans. Fascinating stuff.

    But is it Art?

    The Etruscans had what we call "artigianato artistico"

    Who is this We, I never called it that.

    Perhaps because it was the only art that poor people could afford?

    To hit the nail on the head you don't necessarily need a hammer let alone a decorative one.

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4875 posts Report Reply

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