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Art V/s Criticism February 12, 2010

Posted by fredpereira in Uncategorized.

A visual object or experience consciously created through an expression of skill or imagination. The term art encompasses diverse media such as painting, sculpture, printmaking, drawing, decorative arts, photography, and installation. The various visual arts exist within a continuum that ranges from purely aesthetic purposes at one end to purely utilitarian purposes at the other. This should by no means be taken as a rigid scheme, however, particularly in cultures in which everyday objects are painstakingly constructed and imbued with meaning. Particularly in the 20th century, debates arose over the definition of art.

Art critics usually criticize art in the context of aesthetics or the theory of beauty. One of criticism’s goals is the pursuit of a rational basis for art appreciation.

The variety of artistic movements has resulted in a division of art criticism into different disciplines, each using vastly different criteria for their judgements. The most common division in the field of criticism is between historical criticism and evaluation, a form of art history, and contemporary criticism of work by living artists.

Despite perceptions that art criticism is a much lower risk activity than making art, opinions of current art are always liable to drastic corrections with the passage of time. Critics of the past are often ridiculed for either favoring artists now derided or dismissing artists now venerated. Some art movements themselves were named disparagingly by critics, with the name later adopted as a sort of badge of honor by the artists of the style (e.g. Impressionism, Cubism), the original negative meaning forgotten.

Artists have often had an uneasy relationship with their critics. Artists usually need positive opinions from critics for their work to be viewed and purchased; unfortunately for the artists, only later generations may understand it.

In the Middle Ages in Europe, the term ‘art’ was used, chiefly in the plural, to signify a branch of learning which was regarded as an instrument of knowledge. The seven liberal arts consisted of the trivium, that is grammar, logic, and rhetoric, and the quadrivium, that is arithmetic.

The visual arts are often interrelated with other disciplines, such as mathematics, music, or science. One obvious association is the use of a visual medium, such as painting, to translate information pertaining to another discipline – many of Leonardo da Vinci’s paintings, for example, were simply studies of indigenous flora. Another common association between art and other disciplines can be seen in the precise mathematics and scientific theories used to create the flickering visual effects of op art, or when a viewer ‘sees’ rhythm in a painting, linking the language and emotion of music and art. Although paintings, prints, or sculptures may function on aesthetics alone, the understanding of a work’s relationship with other subject matter will broaden and deepen its conveyed meaning.

Art reflects history and is an indispensable part of peoples’ culture. Art and culture are intricately connected, so that the art of a given place reflects not only the historical context in which it was made, but also the conditions under which it was produced. For example, in some cultures decorative tiles will be elaborately painted and glazed and fired in an electric kiln, while in others tiles may only be adorned with simple incised designs and then left in the sun to bake – the elementary process of the latter reflecting the available materials and environmental conditions of the surrounding geographical area. At the same time, art and culture tend to affect each other; cultural issues often play a major role in an artist’s work, while an artist’s work may influence an entire generation. For example, while pop art was a comment on consumerism, particularly that of the USA and UK, op art influenced ‘popular’ culture, as its basic concepts were used in areas such as fashion and contemporary design.

Content and idea come from a variety of sources, just as artists themselves are driven to create for many different reasons. The final synthesis of an idea and the subsequent work of art are usually the product of a long thoughtful process, in which the artist considers how to approach and execute a theme before even touching a creative medium. Although an artist may consider that an initial idea has been crystallized, this will often change as the work progresses – the medium, environment, and artistic intent all being mutable. Inspiration may be gathered from an endless range of sources; some artists create works based on their physical surroundings, some are politically or culturally motivated, or driven by pure aesthetics, while others explore visual or pictorial puzzles. Many artists synthesize ideas by looking at the art of other cultures.

Many types of work exist in the world of the visual arts. The most obvious career is that of the fine artist, including the traditional occupations of painter, sculptor, or printmaker, and work in the more modern fields of video, installation, or land art. Work may also be found in the applied arts, as a designer or decorator. The term designer is used broadly to cover the work of advertising artists, animators, book illustrators, graphic designers, fashion designers, interior designers, and all other areas of commerce that employ a visual medium. Architecture and art education also offer a variety of careers in the arts. Work in the arts is not necessarily bound to the production of works of art; art historians, art critics, art advisers, museum curators and workers, and art gallery owners encourage the understanding of art, and provide essential support and services to ensure the preservation of the arts.

There are numerous ways to find out about the arts, and many people have devoted their life’s work to research and write about the subject. Art institutions, such as museums, museum libraries, art institutes, universities and colleges, and galleries, house some of the best resources on art. Museums and galleries may only provide information on the pieces in their own collection, so specific queries should be addressed to the appropriate institution. Other useful sources include the public library. Knowledge gained through research can be used when creating or writing about art, or as a springboard for further enquiry.



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