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The Value of Art

By chuiyinlee Apr 27, 2013 1111 Words
People draw since ancient times, how do we determine the value of art? Art do not have any clear instruction, and we could never grade an artwork fairly as it depends on the viewer. Different people have different views and perspectives, I think that art can reflect feelings of artist, and to express the emotion of the artist, it also can be a mirror of the times, reflecting the situation of the age, or it might only be a kind art form, just presenting the technique of the artist. It is no doubt that famous artist artwork usually got more appreciation, but I believe that the value of art is the motive and sprits behind the artwork but not who drew it or how much it sold for, artist create artwork with their own belief, if the belief arouse the resonance of the audience, the value of the artwork would be raised.

Impressed by the dead man in the painting, I chose Manet’s painting the dead toreador to further explain what is the value of art.

Edouard Manet was the leader of impressionism; he was born in a wealthy family and his parent wanted him to be a lawyer but not an artist, however, Manet stood firm and eventually his dream came true, he followed Thomas Couture. Nevertheless, they had different views on art, so Manet copied the former masters’ painting and searching for his ideal art form.[1]

Manet paint the dead toreador in 1864, this painting is part of the other picture Incident in the Bull Ring, There is a toreador lying on the ground with a bleeding wound on the shoulder in this painting, his outfits and the flag he held in left hand shows he died when he was participating in the bullfight. The background of this painting is flat and in murky color, what’s more, though the body is lying on the ground, it has no shadow, and the perspectives of the it is a bit in correct, which giving me a sense that the corpse seems floating, and it’s creating an atmosphere that death is far away from us, even the death of the toreador seems happened in a unreal world.

Apart from the character, colors and tone of the painting is also worth to concern. Besides the background of the picture, the picture has a clear contrast; different from the traditional bullfighting costume that in the eye-catching color, Manet used black and white as the main color theme, which make the character of the painting more outstanding. Black and white also representing the texture of the clothes, colors on the toreador’s socks are showing the texture of silk, for the flag that the toreador holds, it more likely to be pink rather than red, making a sense that the red faded, just like the toreador’s life.

I feel that this painting presented a new perspective of death, although the toreador died in a incident, but his face is peaceful and without any pain; although his gesture look a bit wooden, it shows the dignity. This painting given different view on death, possibly death isn’t as scary as we thought, just like the toreador, do not have any painful expression on his face.

However, there are some criticisms, Linda Nochlin, an American art historian, criticized that the painting separated the viewer and the pale face of the toreador gave a sense of emotionless.[2]

As I mentioned before, the value of art is depends on one’s own belief. Linda Nochlin thought the feeling of isolation in this painting was a defect, but I have another view on the painting, I feel like the separation let the concept of death more clear, as death seems far away from us, but actually death is everywhere and happen at anytime, looking at the corpse of the toreador, I realize that many thing in our life could not be controlled, just like the toreador died in an incident. I do think that this paint make me think about life, and I’ve learn something from it, so I determined this painting is valuable.

Expect the belief behind the painting; the historical meaning also can be a judgment of art value. Camera wasn't popular in the old time, so the artists painted to record; they painted for emperor, or paint to record the special moment and this type of artwork reflect the situation of the age. This painting also is a tool for recording, Manet recorded the toreador death, the props and clothes clearly show the man died in the bullfight, and time seems stopped at the moment he died.

In addition, Manet presented the dead body with no shadow; I think that also might be a reflection of his own view on death. Death might be an impractical thing for us, but the main point is die with dignity, the toreador given his life on his career; I feel that might imply Manet himself, insisted his own belief of art, even his work had been criticized, he kept painting by his own way; just like the toreador works under danger, he died with respect.

In spite of the historical and expressional use, art could also only be a tool of presenting technique. Some of the artist use art to express their emotion, but not to tell story; art can be a form of presenting oneself, but not to be used for communication, it’s depends on the motive of the artist. Maybe Manet painted this work with no special meaning and just wanted to present the usage of the color and brush strokes, we could never known the original intention of his creation, but we read it by ourselves, and applied our interpretation, so I believe that the interpretation is the criteria of judging the value of an artwork.

All in all, the value of art is determined by one’s interpretation, different people have unlike concept of art, so art should not have a clearly criteria to determine its value. Prices of the art pieces are also interpretations of the traders, it’s still the same thing---not what you see, but what you think. -----------------------

[1]
|Brodskai︠a︡, N. V. (2007). Impressionism. New York: Parkstone Press. | | | | | |

[2]
Manet, E., Cachin, F., Melot, M., Moffett, C. S., Bareau, J. W., Galeries nationales du Grand Palais⠠牆湡散Ⱙ☠䴠瑥潲潰楬慴畍敳浵漠⁦牁⁴丨睥夠牯Ⱬ丠央⤮‮ㄨ㠹⤳‮慍敮ⱴㄠ㌸ⴲ㠱㌸›慇敬楲獥渠瑡潩慮敬⁳畤䜠慲摮倠污楡ⱳ倠牡獩‬灁楲㈲䄭杵獵⁴ⰸㄠ (France), & Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.). (1983).

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