Lunching with a friend yesterday, we revisited a theme which never ceases to intrigue…what is art? We have this continuing dialogue in our never ending contemplation of art as our passion and our love of sharing our artistic process with each other. But admittedly I know no more now that I did when I began this artistic journey a decade ago, although some issues become clearer as the journey unfolds. We agreed that the actual artistic results, the painting, drawing, sculpture, photographic image etc., or what he refers to as “artifacts” are merely by products, and that it is the ‘process’ which reigns supreme! It is in the discovery of that, the ‘process’, where the real satisfaction comes, the exploration of a subject, a theme, an idea…it is in the pursuit of that idea and all it’s attendant ‘stuff’ that we ‘solve’ some mystery which intrigues us, which compels us to consider and investigate.
So the question remains…what is art? Who decides what it is? My friend asks, is it art only if the artist is ‘collected’, as so many folks popularly agree? Is it art if the work is critiqued only by a recognized critic or revered by a group? Does that mean if you continue your artistic process and never show your art, exhibit in galleries, and produce in a vacuum, then it isn’t art?
We arrive at few possibilities and no conclusions, but what is inspirational for me is that we continue to have the discussion at all; the pondering of “defining art” and our agreed upon irrelevance of the final “product” or “artifacts” is what compels.
Can’t wait until our next time together to pry into the qualities of art, and travel again to explore what we think it is….