What Is Good Art

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September 3, 2010
ARTH 300

Good and Bad Art

While many people disagree about the aspects of good versus bad art, famous art historians and critics agree that good art is classified very simply, if the viewer experiences a strong emotion, whether it is positive or negative, it can be considered good art. To really appreciate good art it should draw the viewer in. Art in and of itself is very subjective. People in today’s society are sometimes afraid to express their own opinion of good and bad art in fear of being criticized. The truth is that good merely means “I like” and bad means “I dislike.” The art world requires the concepts of subjective good and bad, because that is what drives the desire for improvement and the hard work that goes into it. Without judgments, we would be surrounded by mediocrity,” writes artist Giff Constable.

The definition of good or bad art has changed over the centuries. Imagine showing sixteenth century artists, the painting by Sarah Irani titled Mama and Babe. This painting would have appalled them with its grotesque lines and very unrealistic facial coloring, but in today’s society it can, and is, considered so bad it’s good. In earlier times when the mass majority of people could neither read nor write, art was used to document historical facts, occurrences, or to send an unwritten message. If we take a look at the painting of Queen Elizabeth I, titled Rainbow Portrait, the artist was subtly tying to send a message to the Queen. When looked upon by a casual viewer this portrait is very well done and quite beautiful, but to a trained eye a message is clearly visible. Often when we look at a piece of art, we associate it with the artist. For instance, when you look at the Mona Lisa most times you will think or say “that’s a Da Vinci,” because you subscribe to the adage that the artist and the work are one. We focus on the artist, the age of the painting and its value and often times stop there. Works of art completed by...
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