What Is Artistic Creativity?

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Introduction

In order to answer the question – what is artistic creativity? – I find it significant to define the words art, creative and creative art. The meaning of a concept of art has changed dramatically over the past century. Traditionally the term was used to refer to any skill or mastery, a concept which altered during the Romanic period, when art became to be seen as “a special faculty of the human mind to be classified with religion and science” (Gombrich 2005). Today, however, the term has become more complicated and problematic. One could argue that anything can be art. Duchamp displayed a men’s urinal in the art exhibition, and that became one of the most famous, as well as controversial pieces of art works in the world. Italian artist Piero Manzoni put his own excrement in a can – and surprisingly that was accepted as art. Tracey Emin displayed her own unmade bed in an art gallery… Yves Klein, one of the forerunners of conceptual art, once held an exhibition in Paris consisting of an entirely empty gallery. So space can be art. Some theorists argue that even crime can be art, as they are intimately linked with both being protests against social norms (Carey 2005:4-6).

In my essay I am going to argue through the example of Duchamp’s Fountain, what could be considered as artistic creativity. I am also going to look at some theories by philosophers and critics such as Immanuel Kant and Arthur C. Danto.

The German philosopher Immanuel Kant, one of the most influential figures in Western philosophy, believes in absolute and universal beauty – that some things/objects simply are beautiful, irrespective of the viewer. For Kantians, the question ‘What is a work of art?’ makes sense and is answerable. “Works of art belong to a separate category of things, recognized and attested by certain highly gifted individuals who view them in a state of pure contemplation, and their status as works of art is absolute, universal and eternal.” (Carey 2005:14). This belief leads to the supposition that all true works of art must have something in common, that distinguishes them from things that are not works of art (Carey 2005:14).

For Danto, on the other hand, the exhibition of Andy Warhol’s Brillo Box sculptures in 1964 marked a watershed in the history of aesthetics. As he saw it, it ‘rendered almost worthless everything written by philosophers on art’. Andy Warhol’s ‘pop art’ showed that object’s status as a work of art does not depend on how it looks, or on any physical qualities whatsoever. Danto concludes that absolutely anything can be work of art – art is merely what is thought to be a work of art (Carey 2005: 16-19). However, people who think of an object as a work of art “must belong to the ‘art-world’. That is, they must be experts and critics with understanding of modern art. Only an opinion of such people can turn an object into a work of art, and they are qualified to do this because they can understand its meaning. For Danto works of art are distinguished by having a meaning, and not just any meaning, but a particular meaning. This correct meaning is the one that artist intended.” (Carey 2005:18-19). However, Danto’s point is losing its strength as no one apart from the ‘art-world’, believes that anymore. The art-world has lost its credibility. For Carey (2005:29) a work of art is “anything that has ever considered a work of art, though it maybe the work of art only for that one person.” From my point of view, Carey’s statement is even weaker than Danto’s. According to him, absolutely anything can be a work of art, whereas Danto’s view requires some sort of professional criticism.

So far I have drawn a connection between ‘art’ and ‘creative’. However, if anything can be art, can anything be creative too? When art is made, it means it has been created. Therefore art has to include some creativity. Hereby it would be necessary to draw a line between art (that could be anything) and creative art....
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