Techniques and skills Essay
Techniques and skills
Can a work of art have value regardless of who creates it? Can, and should, we look past the character of the artist – however immoral we consider them to be – and simply experience and esteem the work itself? Art is such a simple word, consisting of just three letters, and yet it takes ceaseless flows of discussions, arguments, debates and theories just on the very definition of it. So what is just so important about this creative field? We have to acknowledge that life would be infinitely dull without art and that we would possibly live solely on cerebral methods.
Therefore, art is something that develops us to be more thoughtful and well-rounded humans. The value of an art is difficult to be determined. A mother may see the doodles and drawings of her little son as art of very high value, but a stranger who has no connections with the family might view them as mere childish scribbles with a value equivalent to rubbish. Therefore, can a work of art have value regardless of who creates it? Possibly, but the values vary.
We can see from the situation mentioned earlier that emotion plays a role in determining a work of art. The mother thinks that the ‘artworks’ by her child are of great value and treasures them since there are sentimental attachments in them. And so if a work of art is to be judged by its sentimental value, the emotion that one feels toward the creator of the artwork would influence how valuable it is. There are several criteria which determines the value of an artwork. Apart from sentimental value, there is also the monetary value as well.
There are cases where an artwork, although not that sentimentally or aesthetically valuable nor is it original, has been sold for huge sums of money, sometimes to an incredulous amount. Tracey Emmin’s work, My Bed, is one of these cases. Her artwork which consists of an unmade bed with packets of condoms and a bottle of vodka next to it was exhibited at the Turner Prize exhibition in London in 1999; and her masterpiece was sold for ? 150,000 to the collector Charles Saatchi. Is her art valuable because it was worth a lot of money?
Is it worth that much of money because it was admitted into the exhibition? Or was it because of Emmin being recognized as an artist? The word ‘artist’ itself states the profession as well as the fact that she is acknowledged as one experienced enough in the ways of art to be called an artist. Does the value of an art get higher if it is created by a veteran artist than the value of art produced by a novice, or even, one who does not opt art as profession at all? Maybe so, but there have been those who make a lot of money through the ‘art’ that they produce even though they were not originally artists.
For example, there is this one Aboriginal woman, who generally never before produced art, and is a stranger to art and its many techniques and skills. That is until the time when she is quite over the age of seventy and happened to eventually produce a culturally influenced artwork, and it so happened that the artwork was seen to be of high value until it was sold for an amount up to six digits. She certainly did not have any degree whatsoever to certify her as an expert in art, yet the masterpiece that she created sold for a high sum of money.
Some of us might look at an artwork and say that it is not of high value, therefore it is not good art, but later on it baffles us when the artwork turns out to be critically acclaimed as an outstanding art by the qualified judges of art. You will come to wonder how is the piece of art seen through the judges’ eyes and why they see it as ‘good art’. How do you judge art then? What makes a person qualified as a proclaimed judge of the arts? This is where aesthetics play a role in determining the ‘beauty’, or value, of an artwork.
Since the world is made up of so many cultures rich with their own traditions and beliefs, perspectives between people differ. Each of us has our own personal tastes and styles, therefore an artwork seen as beautiful by one person might not be seen as such by another. If we say that judging an artwork is all about matters of taste, and that ‘expert opinions’ are not needed, it is quite untrue. Tastes and styles are learnt, developed and changed over time, and good critics by qualified judges of art are needed in helping you to decide which of the millions artworks available are worth your attention.
A good critic might comprehend the meaning of a work of art better than the artist who made the work, for the critic has background knowledge of the field and its aesthetics. Some artworks of high aesthetic value are not beautiful visually. ‘Beauty’ in aesthetics does not revolve only on the physical (on what we see). It also involves our understanding of the artwork, our perception of the meaning interpreted in it as well as our comprehension of what the artist is trying to convey. Acknowledged judges of art’s reviews of artworks can serve as a guide of understanding what makes ‘good art’ and what qualities it possesses.
These good critics and judgements will help your perspective to change and see things in a work of art that you might otherwise failed to notice before. Your opinion of the artwork might even change after you have gotten this new knowledge of viewing art, and you might now see it as one of high value when you previously thought that it was not that good of an art. Summing up the discussions and examples of artworks having values but of different kinds of values (sentimental, monetary, aesthetics), it leads to the confirmation of art having value regardless of who creates it.
Citing the next question of the topic: Can, and should, we look past the character of the artist – however immoral we consider them to be – and simply experience and esteem the work itself? This matter falls heavily under ethical concerns as well as perceptions of different people. Some are fine with and accept artworks which have been produced using animal blood, human blood or even dead human bodies, but some do not and look down at the artworks in disgust and even disdain.
I have read about an artist who cuts off one of her breasts in the process of making herself as ‘a beautiful piece of art’, but I didn’t find her ‘artwork’ beautiful at all. The immoral practices done by a number of artists are totally unacceptable by some religions as well, and the artworks done by these artists are even banned from being displayed in certain countries, particularly countries with the Islam religion as the religion of the majority of their people. In fact, art is seen as something ‘immoral’ itself as it interferes with us leading ideal lives, according to Plato.
He claimed that art is seen as the ‘language of emotions’ which weakens our ability to lead rational lives. In his famous work, The Republic, he had excluded artists from the ideal society. If we think about it, we of course can look past an artist’s immorality and concentrate solely on the work itself. This could happen probably only when the personality and character of the artist himself, and what he has done to achieve his finished art, are not known to us when we are viewing the artwork.
Suppose that there’s an aesthetically pleasing painting which consists of shades of red, and we agree that it is a very good artwork with a high value. Would our perception of the artwork change when we find out later that the shades of red actually came from smears of different kinds of blood? The ethical responses of a person plays an important part in the perception of the artwork. To most people, especially the very ethical ones, their perceptions would definitely change, and they will feel repulsed by it, especially the immorality of the artist.
These people would automatically convert the once good art as ‘bad art’. Others, some being amoral, simply acknowledged this immoral behaviour of the artist and still marvel at the artworks that had been produced. In spite of that, it is not wise either to say that we should look past the character of the artist to enjoy a piece of art. Sometimes we need to know of the procedures done by the artists, no matter how immoral they seem to be, to create their artworks. Paradoxically these behaviours are sometimes able to reveal deep truths about the human condition.
The arts have moral and educative roles, as they have a way to provoke emotions that influence our behaviour. Either ethical or unethical behaviour of the artists can sometimes serve as a measure for us to shape our attitudes by offering a range of role-models. The immorality of an artist can broaden our awareness, develop empathy as well as sharpen our intuitions. We would strive to not be immoral like the artist and to be more ethical if we are aware of the artist’s immorality. During the time of the ancient Greeks, Homer’s Illiad was the key role in a young man’s education.
In the current modern time, Hollywood and the movies influence our attitudes about good and bad, right and wrong. Our assumptions are challenged by great art as it gives us a different perspective on things. This is not to say that we should always not look past a character’s immorality. There are certain works of art which should be judged purely on its aesthetics rather than its ethical merits. When an artist starts to sermonise and tries teaching morality through his art, there is the risk that he will end up being both a bad artist and a bad preacher.
In conclusion, an artwork does have value but the values vary with each aspect of determining it. There are many criteria which could be used to determine the value of an artwork, including sentimental, monetary and aesthetic values. The value of an artwork varies from one to another, but usually if you are looking at it aesthetically people tend to agree whether an artwork is ‘good art’ (making it of high value) or ‘bad art’ (making it of low value, but it still has a value nonetheless) despite its physical beauty or ugliness.
We can look past the immorality of some artists to experience and esteem a work of art, and judge it purely on its aesthetics, but it is not necessarily that we should look past it. The knowledge that we obtain from the immorality or morality of an artist might bring us closer to the truth of humankind. If two scientific theories contradict one another, and one of them is true, then we must conclude that the other is false. However, when it comes to the arts, two quite different artworks can be revealing the truth because of the questions that rise in us when we view the artwork.
Sometime it can be more illuminating to not ask “Is it true? ” but rather “What has the artist seen? “. Therefore, the arts can be said to contribute richness and depth to our experience of the world.
Shelly Esaak, What Is Art? , Wikipedia, Aesthetic judgement, 2003, Julian Manriquez, Guide to determining the value of a work of art Robert Bear, Introduction to Determining the Value of Art, December 06 2006, Richard van de Lagemaat, Theory of Knowledge for the IB Diploma, 2005
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 3 June 2017
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