I’ve been pondering the question of “What is Art?” and consequently, what makes an artist?
and what is the purpose of art?
and who decides all of these things?
and what is the meaning of life?
Oh, wait. Nix that last one. I quit pondering that a long time ago.
I’ll be exploring these questions in future posts. Probably…
But today, the Daily Post weekly photo challenge is based on the theme “Express Yourself,” which has led me to musing about art as a means of expressing oneself.
Maybe that’s a basic parameter of art: the artist is creating/performing/producing art as a means of self-expression.
But if an artist creates something in order to express him- or herself, does it matter whether the viewer understands what it is that the artist is trying to express? Or is it the act of expressing oneself all that really matters?
I share photos of my newly completed stained glass panels on FaceBook, a practice which is primarily undertaken because I like to get positive feedback on my work. And since they’re all my “friends” on FB, I can be fairly confident that I won’t get flamed. I’m kind of a coward that way.
I got a FB comment once that did rankle me for a while, though. In response to a photo of one of my pieces, someone wrote, “Cool. But what is it?” It didn’t bother me that this woman couldn’t recognize what I was trying to portray. My intent was more to convey an emotion – or a mood – than to depict a literal object.
What bugged me was that she felt the need to ask. My response to her was along the lines of, “It’s whatever you want it to be.” I know what it means to me, and it’s irrelevant to me as to what it meant to her. Not that I don’t care; it’s always interesting to know what others see in your work. And someone else’s interpretation might give me new insight as well. But whatever her interpretation is, it’s neither good nor bad, neither right nor wrong.
So another thought… does it matter whether the artist him- or herself knows what they are trying to convey? Does art have to have any meaning at all?
Jackson Pollock’s paintings are about as abstract as art can get. A Wikipedia article about him states that, “[In] continuing to evade the viewer’s search for figurative elements in his paintings, Pollock abandoned titles and started numbering his works.”
Pollock’s wife, Lee Krasner, is quoted as explaining the numbering of his works thusly: “Numbers are neutral. They make people look at a picture for what it is—pure painting.”
Pure painting… Does that mean that it is not meant to be interpreted at all? Did Pollock have his own interpretations for the pieces, or was he simply practicing “pure painting?”
And if there is meant to be no interpretation on the part of the artist or the viewer, is it in fact art?
So many questions…
My title for the panel pictured above is “Hammer Shattering Glass Shattering Hammer.” (Or No. 11, if you prefer.) I’d be curious to know how others interpret the piece.