Saturday, June 6, 2020

When is it Real Art?

When is it real ART? 
and not just decoration?
not just "ahhhhh"  which is probably what you cat lovers said to the above watercolor!

Well, Renoir said  real art was "inimitable and ineffable".
Since those are words rarely heard today, (alas, our language is often reduced to "whatever"!), I'll expand a little.  Inimitable means something that is so good or so unusual that it's impossible to copy it, it has its own unique presence.   Which of course cannot be said of yet another cat painting!

And ineffable means it's something that is so striking it's hard to find the right words to describe it.

I think many emotions are ineffable, words can't describe the feelings...maybe if one could sing and or dance marvelously, or play an could "describe" the feeling in that way.  In fact that's probably why people who are very skilled at those activities can do that.  But it does take a certain amount of skill I think - awkward clunky movements, off key whining and disconnected unrhythmic notes don't really convey anything much!!

And this is probably why so many people reply (when asked what kind of art they like) that they can't describe it but they know it when they see it.  And I think that's because, they primarily FEEL it when they see it...they feel the emotion - love, anger, desire, torment - that the artist put into the work.

Can you learn to produce work that is inimitable and ineffable?  There's some considerable argument about this - certainly some very famous artists/musicians etc showed immense talent from a very early age...Picasso for example, or Menuhin. And you cannot determine your genes!
But also it's important to have a solid knowledge of your craft...
Goethe: "The artist who is not also a craftsman is no good; but, alas, most of our artists are nothing else".

A good beginning, therefore, is to know your craft...know your techniques, know the art that is already "out there", learn to distinguish the Real from the decoration.  Then undertake the long slow but increasingly fascinating journey that is being an artist.

With a little nod to the odd cat painting here and there along the way of course!!
And, if you have been, thanks for reading!
And....please comment and tell me what YOU think!!   Elizabeth

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