What is Art?

Director of the Metropolitan Mueseum of Modern Art in New York, Phillipe de Monsello commented that “art has no consensus.” It cannot be translated nor explained. Art historian Robert Rossenblum stated, “The idea of defining art is so remote [that] anyone would dare to do it.” So if we cannot define art, do we at least know how to differentiate art from actual and just not?

In the 80’s Jackson Pollock did something different from what was then thought to be art. He created an art form or application of art that was not considered traditional. By using traditional mediums of paint and canvas, he created a transversal line: a painting of what my father would call “something a child could do.” But if you actually look closely at Pollock’s paintings, it is not just paint splashed allover a canvas, but what he explains to be all part of a ‘process.’ There are shards of glass under layers of paint, cigarette burns all throughout the canvas and the remnants of cigarette butts.

'Blue Poles' by Jackson Pollock

More specifically it is interesting to see that society has taken Pollock’s paintings and given the paintbrush over to you. Yes, there is a website that allows you to paint like Jackson Pollock (minus the cigarettes, glass and over all ‘process’). From his evolution of painting, we now have a new media and way of painting – digital painting. (See www.jacksonpollock.org to have a go)

Switching over to a more contemporary line of flight is the inclusion of media technologies in art. Looking specifically at Italian post-conceptual artist, Maurizio Bolognini who uses human interaction with media technologies to create art. His most recognizable work was his use of “computers to produce endless streams of random images.”

In 1988 Bolognini produced ‘Programmed Machines’, an installation where he uses computers that have been “programmed to produce limitless flows of random images and left to function indefinitely.”

'Programmed Machines' by Maurizio Bolognini

Funnily enough in attempts to define art and artists, we are left with Bolognini who comments, “I do not consider myself an artist who creates certain images, and I am not merely a conceptual artist.” He explains that his interests towards ‘Programmed Machines’ is “in their flow, their limitlessness in space and time, the possibility of creating parallel universes of information, made up of kilometres of images and infinite trajectories.” He continues, “My installations serve to generate out-of-control infinities.

Whether the art form or take be traditional, it remains close to or impossible to define art. As art historian, Thomas McEvilley confirms, “More or less anything can be designated as art.

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