Art is not merely in the eye of the beholder. Also – we’ve come to conflate “high art” with art – and worse, “art” with things that are neither beautiful nor requiring skill, nor even comprehensible without referencing the world around them at the moment instead of a work in and of themselves.
Brian Niemeier in an epic set of tweets defines the responsibility of the artist, which Bradford Walker gathers up and adds some more insightful commentary.
A reality check for writers who may have been taken in by Chuck, The-Evil-That-Devours:
- The correct definition of “art”, universally known before Modernism muddied the waters, is “a work performed to a standard”.
- Painting a fence is no less an art than painting a still life.
- To qualify as art, a work must conform to an objective standard. Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder. The difference between good and bad art is real and independent of the observer.
- Consumers of art have a right to hold artisans to the professional standards of their field. A reader is no less justified in complaining about a badly written novel than a homeowner is in complaining to a contractor about a shoddily build garage.
- A product is indeed judged by how well it serves its purpose. The purpose of a novel is to entertain. You, the author, are indeed a monkey dancing and capering for the reader’s amusement. You are the servant, not the master.
You are a clown.
When a reader spends hard-earned money that could have paid for movies, video games, or beer on your clowning, you are to be grateful.
Every author secretly fears he is a fraud. He is right. Heed this advice, or be exposed for the big-shoed, red-nosed joke you are.
I’d mentioned before that the post-modern attitude of art having to be relevant, and getting meaning from the world around it, is not actually art. To restate it though:
A) it requires skill and craft. In other words, practice, not something a kindergartner could slap up. Making a violin sound like something other than a dying and out-of-tune cat requires weeks of practice, being good with it? Years.
B) Art is about communication. If you have to explain the artistic relevance of the thing that looks like an unmade bed in the middle of the room, you failed. Someone with less cultural background may not catch all the nuances but it should be obvious to anyone with a room temperature IQ that it is deliberate creation of intent and practice, and that it has beauty, in and of itself, even outside of a gallery, without a bunch of bullshit about its relationship to the outside world.
That aside – enjoy. Serge Marshennikov.