Art is Undefinable

Even if a work of art isn’t created via renowned technique, it is still art

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  Picture this: You’re walking through an art museum, passing by the famous works of artists like Leonardo Da Vinci or Michelangelo, when suddenly, you encounter what seems to be a yellow canvas with arbitrarily placed lines of color. “Untitled,” the name card reads, “Oil Paint on Canvas, Robert Irwin.” How could this possibly be art when placed next to the likes of ‘Mona Lisa’ or ‘David’?

  “Robert Irwin: All the Rules Will Change,” a 2016 Hirshhorn Museum exhibition, was the first mass display of the paintings he created in the 1960s. The exhibition featured circles, lines, and rectangles, alongside an abundance of seemingly plain canvases of solid colors.

  Now picture ‘Levitated Mass’ by Michael Heizer, a recognizable piece at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art simply consisting of a rock placed over a walkway.

  Due to the composition of these relatively contemporary pieces, it has become common for people to write these works off as “ordinary,” “uninspiring,” or even go so far as to declare it to be something that shouldn’t be considered art at all.

  Yes, I will concede that this type of contemporary art is simple compared to the works of renowned artists such as Salvador Dali or Vincent Van Gogh, but there really is no basis of comparison between the two. I firmly believe that no one can truly place any objectifiable value on art — it’s all a matter of perception.

 For instance, it is generally agreed upon that the works of Pablo Picasso are respectable pieces of fine art. However, place his art next to that of a Renaissance artist (or slightly more recently, Edgar Degas), and one with the aforementioned negative mindset towards contemporary art may be surprised to see that when compared, Picasso’s work is far less technically perfect.

  In any case, lack of technical ability does not negate the fact that art is art. Regardless of the style or technique employed, art should not be discredited on the grounds that it doesn’t resemble the art of the “greats,” it’s just a big case of misunderstanding.

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