Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Good Art Vs. Bad Art*

*To listen to this podcast, click on the title of this post or go to

How do we view art? Are we conditioned to appreciate certain things and not others?

For instance, when looking at a Picasso, are we admiring the art or the reputation of the artist? Do we even understand what we're looking at all the time or are we just trained to be in awe of the pieces that have shocked and amazed generations before us without knowing why?

Have you met someone who said he or she hated the Mona Lisa? or didn't appreciate the mystery of The Last Supper?

What makes art good or bad?
I asked my sister that very same question before deciding to talk about this. She said that art is something that she can understand. "I don't know what art is but I know what I like," she said citing the most famous and if I may say very honest refrain.

I decided to push it further. I asked her what was the last piece of art that surprised or touched her. Knowing that she lives in London and that she's a regular at the Tate Modern and the National Gallery, I expected to hear a famous name. She didn't pause to think. "It was a series of graffiti sprayed on a white divider cordoning off a construction site".

She said, "It was the best piece of art I've seen lately. It's avant-garde and it's non-commercial. The creator just wanted people to see it, just wanted to vent, to create. You can't transcend beyond that. It simply spoke to me."

Indeed, the first thing I think about when critiquing a piece of art is what it does to me. Is it shocking, pleasing, does it make me think, and how does it make me feel? The second thing that I notice is how the idea was communicated and this has to do with the concept and skills of the artist. Good art to me has to evoke a thought, memory or an idea.

Bad art on the other hand is simply a piece that doesn’t get to me in any way. If I don’t understand it and if I don’t know what I’m looking at, it would fail to evoke any feelings in me because there’s nothing there to relate to. It’s not personal.

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