The 'What is Art?' debate is as old and cliched as it is fruitless. For that reason I've avoided it so far on this blog. After watching the incredible documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop from famed street artist Banksy I really can't help myself. If you haven't seen it you really should. Not only does it raise interesting questions about the nature of art, but it's funny as all hell. If you have Netflix you can stream it right now (click here to add it to your queue). If you rent movies the old fashioned way go head over to your local video store and hope they have this one in. Go watch it and come back. Don't worry, I'll wait.
Pretty good, huh?
No spoilers here, but how about that Mr. Brainwash? What a character! He really makes you wonder what the hell art is. Is it art if you just slap a Marilyn Monroe wig on Michael Jackson in photoshop? I tend to lean towards a more inclusive definition of what art is. I feel that anyone is capable of creating art if they work at it. Intuitively though it seems that the creation of art should be difficult; that it should be accompanied by a certain amount of suffering. The archetype of the starving artist is just so ingrained in my mind that it feels wrong for someone to pass something off as art that any graphic designer could pull off in 20 minutes.
To be an artist you have to create something, don't you? Mr. Brainwash only gave his ideas to designers, he didn't actually create them. If I come up with an idea for a brilliant painting and have someone else paint it, am I the artist and my employee merely a tradesmen? Or am I merely the muse in that situation?
Perhaps art is just something that is pleasing to the eye. You know, like a tomato soup can, or a painting of a tomato soup can. Then again you could just photograph the Grand Canyon and call it art then, couldn't you? Even though you aren't creating but merely recording, it would still be considered art, right? Is a photograph of art, art? Is a photograph of someone taking a photograph of art, art because it's making a statement about this very problem? I'm not sure, but it kind of sounds like art.
This is why I've never written a 'What is Art?' blog. It didn't come to anything, yet it was still fun to try. You have any ideas? A million bucks to whoever can adequately define art.