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Art is Art Essay

What is considered art has been a controversial question for many years in history and today. There are various forms and types of art. Because art is very complex and diverse, it is viewed and conceptualized in many different ways. Nancy G. Heller states even though a type of artwork is hard to understand, it’s considered art, and artwork that people don’t understand shouldn’t be disregarded from other types of art. She feels as though people shouldn’t be intimidated by artwork that’s hard to understand and her main goal is to try to help people feel more comfortable around art they don’t understand. Picasso believes that all art needs to be an original in order to be considerably successful. He states that nature and art are completely different things. Picasso explains that art is a lie that allows us to realize the truth. And finally, John Berger speaks about publicity being a form of art, and how it uses art to manipulate people into buying what is publicized. Berger says publicity ads have a way of working because ads focus on the future, which people are attracted to more than the present. Each of these authors have different opinions on how art is viewed and conceived, however they unite from similar points in their views.

All art is art, and shouldn’t be dismissed. In “’Statement to Marius De Zayas,’ 1923,” Picasso states that art has to convince people of its truthfulness. In his article, Picasso defends the art of cubism.—because cubism, like many other types of art, is not understood yet by most people. However, cubism isn’t any different from a type of art someone likes and understands—it shares the same principles or elements as any/ all other types of art. Picasso elaborates on his claims by giving the reader an example of him reading an English book. He says that reading a book doesn’t make sense to him, yet it doesn’t mean that the English language doesn’t exist. He states that no one should be responsible for him not being able to understand what he doesn’t know much about. Picasso believes that an individual shouldn’t say a type of art isn’t art only because they don’t understand it.

The individual should, instead, try to understand it, and if he/ she still doesn’t consider it to be an art, the individual should claim to just dislike that specific type of art. Picasso and Heller both agree that art is art and that it shouldn’t be questioned. Nancy G. Heller’s book, “Why a Painting is Like a Pizza: a Guide to Understanding and Enjoying Modern Art” starts with the author’s experience making a pizza in Texas. From her experience, she concluded that painting is like a pizza. Just as many people have a variety of taste in pizza that they prefer, when people look at art, they have certain preferences in art as well. Some people usually completely dismiss certain groups of art, saying its not art at all. Heller defends artists who are victims of these cruel remarks by saying, “anything anyone says is art should be in fact be regarded as art” (Heller 10).

All art should not only be regarded as art, but art also is a lie that uncovers the truth. In Heller’s article, one of her examples shows Rosa Bonheur’s painting “’The Horse Fair’ (1853).” This painting is very realistic like a photograph. On the contrary, the painting is just very convincing. Bonheur’s painting of the galloping horses lie to the viewer, because the horses aren’t actually galloping in front of the viewer. However, it helps the viewer recognize the truth from the artist’s lies. All art lies, which help the viewer, uncover the truth. Nature and art aren’t the same. Only something real can be natural. Picasso agrees with Heller by saying, “nature and art, being two different things, cannot be the same thing. Through art, we express our conception of what nature is not” (Picasso par. 5). Picasso states that art needs to be an original idea—otherwise it is useless. An artwork being original allows the viewer to notice the truth. He suggests that art isn’t actually what the artwork portrays. “Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth” (Picasso par. 3). Although paintings aren’t real, it can symbolize something that is real. In “Ways of Seeing” by John Berger, the author talks about all art (publicity ads or paintings) must be convincing to the viewer. “Publicity begins by working on a natural appetite for pleasure. But it cannot offer the real object of pleasure and there is no convincing substituted for pleasure in that pleasure’s own terms.

The more convincingly publicity conveys the pleasure of bathing in a warm, distant sea, the more the spectator-buyer will become aware that he is hundreds of miles away from that sea and the more remote the chance of bathing in it will seem to him” (Berger 132). The author gives an example of how publicity ads work by suggesting if a publicity ad was to show the pleasures of bathing in a warm and distant sea, the viewer (or buyer) will realize that he is many miles away from the sea that the ad is portraying, and the chance of bathing in that sea will seem far to him. If the viewers aren’t convinced from art, whether it’s a publicity ad or a painting, that artwork is not successful. If a viewer thinks that the representation of whatever the ad is trying to sell is intangible, the viewer will be less convinced.

John Berger and Picasso share the same beliefs that art should live in the present. Since there is constant exposure of publicity ads, Berger believes that ads live in the present. Publicity ads are located almost anywhere in this world. From magazines and TVs to buses and billboards, ads are everywhere. Publicity ads are not only constantly around a person’s surroundings, but also are always updated and/ or renewed. Although Berger talks about publicity ads living in the moment, they never represent the present time. Picasso similarly states, if a painting is looked at and appreciated by the viewer, it’s alive, living in the present. Picasso’s work has been echoed in his own idea. All of his work “was made for the present and with the hope that it will always remain in the present” (Picasso par. 11). Picasso gives an example of the Greek and Egyptian art. He proclaims that Greek and Egyptian art is more alive today than it was when the artwork as created. People are intrigued about how the artwork was made back then, and that alone keeps the early Greek and Egyptian artwork alive in the present.

All authors have common beliefs on how art should be viewed and conceived. Art is art and it shouldn’t be questioned. If art is hard to understand, it shouldn’t be dismissed as not art… it should categorized as a type of art an individual dislikes. Furthermore, paintings don’t tell the truth; however it is filled with lies that help an individual recognize the truth through the painting being convincing. And lastly, an artwork lives in the present time—even if the artwork was made in the past.

Work Cited

Berger, John. Ways Of Seeing. London: Penguin Book, 1977. Print. Heller, Nancy G. Why a Painting is Like a Pizza: a Guide to Understanding and Enjoying Modern Art. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002. Print. Picasso, Pablo. “Statement to Marius de Zayas.” The Arts. NY, May 1923. Translation approved by Picasso. Web. 18 September 2012. .


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