You know it when you ‘see’ it. Subjective. What appeals to one may leave another ‘cold’. But are there generalizations … what art is that most will agree upon? Are there universal prescripts ‘bout determining “is it art?” For all people in ‘all times’? Perhaps.

Questions first: What motivates an individual to sing, dance, draw, paint or otherwise ‘vent’ cerebral stirrings?

Sentiment? Reliving childhood experiences? Connecting to fond memories of loved ones? Emulating the ‘moving’ expressions of others? Yielding to emotions thus provoked? Playing a lute like grandpa? Twirling gaily in a jig? Quilting a sunset? So many influences.

Observations? Being ‘stimulated’ by colors, shapes, nature’s profusions, the antics of people? Photographing and preserving captivating views? Personal interpretations of sensory impressions? Unique designs filtered through a lively imagination? No end to what can be ‘expressed’ in various media.

Practical applications? Responding to the demands of an editor for appealing renditions of product or an event. Reproducing or reinterpreting theatrical productions and musical scores? Obsessing a commitment to influence others and formulating an ‘attractive’ way to ‘communicate’ it? What should one do? … must one do? To entertain … to make a ‘difference’.

For millennia individuals have been ‘externalizing’ a plethora of visual and auditory ‘constructs’. Have these been art? Perhaps. That word again. Or are there qualities that ‘elevate’ … garnering praise and societal recognition that particular artistic renderings are superior? … true art … obfuscating the ‘lesser’ offerings. This becomes confusing when obscure ‘pieces’ are ‘discovered’ and regaled or conversely ‘masterpieces’ denigrated … or labeled copies … profanations … horrors!! What recourse is there in considerations of what is art?

The only solution: Agreement and acceptance of terminology by a majority in a particular society. What is art? Perhaps: All creative manifestations in whatever form that captivates some with its beauty, cohesion or purpose. Youthful depictions of family, home and hearth. Sketches, portraits and ‘paintings’. Songs, dances, comedies and dramas. Engineering and architectural designs. What is exemplary art? ‘High’ art.? ‘Creations’ that display unique or outstanding skills and alter consciousnesses of many, slightly or profoundly, by provoking emotional stirrings or gradations of ecstasy. These emanate during ‘unassailable’ ‘genius’ moments.

Masterful novels, plays, musical scores and paintings are a cherished legacy that inspires … lifts ‘spirits’ by ‘harnessing’ the power of imaginations to glimpse the Ultimate Profound, Eternal Beauty. A rather lofty sentiment. But either there is a pervasive Source for inspiration which transcends mere molecular structures or … we are heirs to habits of preposterous self-deceptions … existing in a void without purpose. What do you think?

A FINAL NOTE: To the haughty ‘art’ ‘expert’ and collector. ‘Works’ by famous artists are NOT all ‘masterful’. Crescendos of heightened spiritual ‘connectedness’ are rare. Try to temper your hyperbole about an artist by acknowledging the true merits or shortcomings of each ‘work’. Nice to invest in or profit from what is in vogue. But you might want to be honest and sincere in your appraisals.



©2007-2008 Edwin O'Shea and All or part of only one topic, including all definitions and essay, may be used without written permission. Please see full copyright notice on home page.