WHAT IS ART?
Art has so many aspects, takes so many directions, serves so many purposes in such a variety of ways, that the question is almost as big as the biggest question of all, What is Life? Art’s first function is to be “pleasing to the eye,” to clarify, intensify, or otherwise enlarge our experience of life. Painting, sculpture, and architecture are the truest forms of art, witnessing the nature of the times and places that produced them. The simplest answer: Art is a topical record describing how things, places, and people have looked, (a function now preempted by the camera). A painting is a triple experience – visual, emotional, and intellectual.
Art helps us to see. How we “see” determines how we live. Developing awareness and becoming personally involved in shaping our surroundings can lead to an improved quality of life.
Quality in art is relative, as concepts of what is valuable in art or anything else changes from person to person, from age to age, and from culture to culture. Ideally, each person viewing a work of art will determine his or her own idea of its quality.
WHY IS ART IMPORTANT?
Whether it is for lack of funding or lack of priority, more and more schools are cutting art classes out of their curriculum.
How many talented artists have been lost in the river of history, occasionally but rarely resurfacing further downstream. One can witness today’s artists’ names in current art magazines or read historical letters and journals and learn of the artists who were friends or enemies, respected or disdained, by the historically ordained. Would we know of Charles Camoin if Cezanne had not written him?
It is a basic human condition that, while we may wage our artistic battles in solitude, at the end of the day we crave recognition from our fellow man. Art has a stronger memory than most human endeavors. Art is powerful because it persists long after the artist is gone, even forgotten.
An artist’s work may or may not ever be entered into our survey tomes, but the legacy of his work exists. An artist remains in every house and every gallery where someone stares at his work with wonder. The joy of art does not reside in fame or value appreciation, but in inspiration and the subtle human condition that happens between the artists’ art and the viewer.
The genuine artist’s challenge is two-fold. First is the immense, life-long effort to develop and evolve a significant vision that expresses both his feelings and those of his era in the context of timeless human experience. Then once the work has been created, begins the task of getting it out into the world, trying to make gallery people and collectors understand what has been achieved. Artists do not, cannot, could not, live by bread alone. They seek a oneness with the greatness of life, of nature and of man through forms and images in paint and stone as true as the world itself. What a compelling, rewarding, and dangerous task this is.