What is Art?

What is Art?
Meghan Jacinto


Art: noun, the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

Seems simple.

Does that mean as I am writing this article, I am creating art? Technically.
Does that mean the sandwich I created earlier is art since it shows my creative skill of sandwich making? Possibly!

It is safe to say that what can be considered art is debatable, but it usually depends on the people who view the art itself. Recently in my Art History class, we have been studying a work titled, Fountain by Marcel Duchamp. For those unfamiliar with the piece, it is a porcelain urinal, signed “R.Mutt”. There have been seventeen replicas ordered by Duchamp, one even selling for a price of 1.7 million in November 1999. But questions arose, why would someone want to buy a urinal? Is this artwork considered a masterpiece? First, let’s start with some background.

Marcel Duchamp was a part of the Dada art movement, which began in the midst of World War I. The mass destruction and chaos that the conflict unleashed horrified many artists. It was unlike anything humanity had faced before. Soon, Dada emerged, a reaction to what many artists saw as an insane spectacle of collective homicide. They turned away from logic in favor of the irrational.

Now, in comes Duchamp with Fountain, made during a conservative era, which was ready to aggressively challenge artistic conventions. He had submitted the art as a sculpture to an exhibition, who rejected it, but it just further proved his point. The meaning lies with those who see it, Duchamp is asking the viewer to see the urinal in a new light. Overall, it raises the question whether art has to be made by the artist, or if it can be transformed out of ordinary materials into something wonderful.

Overall, art can be anything you want it to be whether you want to create a sandwich or design the next outfit for the fashion runway. Look around you, the concept of art is constantly changing and evolving. It’s advised not to dig too deep into the ambiguity of the actual definition of art itself because you may forget to appreciate the significance of the wide variety of artwork in our lives right now. In the wise words of Maya Angelou, “Find a beautiful piece of art. If you fall in love with Van Gogh or Matisse or John Oliver Killens, or if you fall love with the music of Coltrane, the music of Aretha Franklin, or the music of Chopin – find some beautiful art and admire it, and realize that that was created by human beings just like you, no more human, no less.”

So, I leave you with this question; What is art to you?


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