Blog: Authenticity in Visual Art

Christine Alfery

Posted on June 22 2020

Blog: Authenticity in Visual Art

I remember taking an entire art history class on the murals created as a visual records of their times. These images can be moving, they can be popular, they can tell a story. But does that make them art?

Perhaps some of these visual histories have artistic merit. But what do they show? Do they show the true history, documenting equal sides of the story, a full documentation of the event? My art history class showed that generally historical visual records often glorify one side. Is a one-sided history a true history of the time?

We still see this often one-sided portrayal in today’s visual history – photographs go viral, the power of an image makes it popular. But does popularity mean that it is art?

The key to true art is authenticity. Visual portrayal that shows the heart, the hand, the soul of the artist. We see this type of authenticity in famous historic visual records such at Guernica by Picasso or The Third of May, 1808 by Goya.

Today we must remember that popularity is not the same as authenticity. A viral sensation, an emotion evoking image, a shocking portrayal means the image has had an impact – but an impactful image is just that – an image. Art is more than composition, more than capturing a moment. An image can be powerful, but that does not make it the same as true creative authentic artwork.

Authenticity in art is more than just an emotional response, more than just popularity. Authenticity in art is an idea not thought of before. Authenticity means the artist has put themselves into the image. You sense them – their genuine unhidden uniqueness. Regardless if the images was painted or captured with a camera, authentic art is created or composed to please the viewer, rather the artist/creator created the work because the idea belonged soley to the individual – if not expressed by that artist the idea would never exist. 

Visual history is often moving, it is vital, it will endure. But it is not always art.

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