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Thursday, September 3, 2009

...but is it art?

Ever seen this before?

And no, I'm not asking if you've ever seen a urinal at any point in your life. I'm asking if you've ever seen/heard of Marcel Duchamp's "Fountain", which was one of his contributions to the Dada movement of art. As far as the rest of the world was concerned, he bought a urinal, turned it the wrong way, signed a fake name on it (R. Mutt) and submitted it to an artist's exhibition, where it was not displayed. As far as he was concerned, it was art.
Or was it?
I suppose the question is...what is art, anyways? Just type in "definition of art" in google and you'll get a multitude of answers. Here's just a few: "the products of human creativity," "the creation of beautiful or significant things," "the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance."
Come to think of it, what is "beautiful" or "significant" or "appealing"? I mean, personally, I think that the poems I wrote as a seven-year-old are significant. Does that make them art? Isn't significance in the eye of the beholder? Same thing with beautiful and appealing--what one person finds appealing may make another person feel sick to their stomach.
To return to Duchamp, then. Obviously, he found his "Fountain" significant. Whatever the rest of the world thought of his work, Duchamp had something he wanted to say, and he did so. Isn't that admirable, in its own right? Sure, I look at "Fountain" and think, "Hmmmm....that's a bit weird." But Duchamp thought it was beautiful. Isn't that sort of cool?
I like the first definition I found best, actually. I think that art is nothing more or less than "the products of human creativity." Art isn't necessarily something you do for outside approval--art is more often something you do for yourself, in my opinion. Maybe you share your art, but in the end, no one can put paintbrush to canvas or voice to notes quite the same way you do. Whatever the rest of the world thinks, if you let your creativity run rampant and make something special to you, then you've created art--no matter what it is.
...phew! That was quite wordy, wasn't it? My brother and I were debating the meaning of art the other day, and I decided it would make a good blog post. I swear I'll lay off the sermons and write something a little more lighthearted next--perhaps an update on my theatre endevaors. (I've got some great stuff coming up in that department.) :)
See you next time!