Thursday, August 2, 2012
What Makes Great Art Great?
I stumbled across this particularly fine two-pronged answer to the eternal question: What Makes Great Art Great? at artist Brandon Long's blog. It's worth sharing and thinking about.
I do agree with his simple take, though I disagree with his view of Da Vinci's Mona Lisa. My reasons: The brow, the smile and the hands. (Also: a tech point: Can you appreciate how extraordinarily difficult it is to paint eyes looking in a sideways direction without making the sitter look slightly cross-eyed?)
At any rate, most art is quicksilver. Great art is bedrock. Don't you think?
The artist only needs creative genius. The viewer only needs to be receptive and able to recognize genius, talent and craft even if he or she doesn't completely understand the object. On some level there should be a kind of mutual reciprocity. Minus that, pass it by.
Emotionally, great art should make you gasp or at least, hold your breath. Something about it should dazzle you. It should stop you dead in your tracks. The first time I saw a Jackson Pollock splatter painting at the Museum of Modern Art, I knew my life had been changed forever. Why? Because the painting altered my view of the world. I wanted to genuflect. But wisely, a friend led me from the room - I was practically in a daze.
Here is Brandon Long's take:
"What makes a great work of art? Monetary value? The "brand name" of the artist who created it? The technical precision? A lot of factors come to mind when considering the great masterpieces of the past. In the current wave of art and the internet - the constant deluge of images and content with each voice crying "look at me," it could be said that there are no "masterpieces" of the 21st century.
It seems that anyone can promote anything anywhere and that the filters of content - the "tastemakers," if you will have been removed from the equation. With that being said, what makes a great work of art great? I like to consider two main factors:
1. Is the work of art greater than its absence? This can apply to music, painting, sculpture, dance - any form of art. I know that I have heard many songs on the radio that could not compete with the value of the silence given by pushing the off button. I have see a lot of paintings that are far less preferable than a blank wall.
2. If you were the last man [or woman] on earth, would you put the work of art in your collection? You've got no one to impress, no intrinsic value, no brand name, no art history or art future - just you and the art. Would you still want it?
I'd have to say that my post-apocalyptic gallery would contain a lot of things, and the Mona Lisa would not be one of them."
What do you think?