Blog: Is art a cultural object? Is art an object?

Christine Alfery

Posted on April 05 2021

Blog: Is art a cultural object? Is art an object?

Featured image: At Peace

The statement that “this is a good piece of art and this is a bad piece of art,” this statement is one of the biggest cultural objectifications I can think of. When an object becomes associated with good and bad it becomes a thing, an object of, a possession of whomever is making the association. "Good and bad" reinforce the ideas that there actually is good art and bad art. Well, perhaps there is, but I would prefer to think about art, not as something that becomes objectified, but as something that allows uniqueness and inventiveness as having authentic qualities. Authentic being understood by me as the “real.” Also, understood by me as something that learns from failures, or badness – and moves on. Example: The other night I was watching something on the science channel about flight and learning to fly. There were many failures done by many men trying to figure out how to create a flying machine. Without those failures, without those crashes the Wright brothers, who also knew of failures would never have succeeded.

Once you know in your heart that a creation is “authentic” or real, full of inventiveness, and the courageousness of making something that does not fit the norm, you will know whether it is a cultural object that objectifies art or if it is authentic art.

When looking at an object that was created, perhaps there are parts of it that do not work, and parts that do. Fix the parts that do and move on. The same goes for making art – not because it is an object and will sell because it has blue in it - but because it is authentic and touches the heart, the human soul. We know of many folks who have tried and failed. I, for example, try to paint a transparent watercolor every time I start a painting. To date, I have been unsuccessful. Personally, I have concluded that it is not important for my wellbeing, and sense of creative living to follow the rules of transparent watercolors. Perhaps, the reason I fail is because the rules to make the work qualify for being transparent overpower the concept of art and painting for me.

Also, for me, art – and judging if a work is good or bad – like following the rules that qualify a work as transparent or not, creates an improper perspective regarding the work. It sets the wrong set of beliefs as to what art is and should be. I prefer to think of art as something that has long-term growth or, as they used to say, timelessness. I prefer art that has not been objectified.

I have been writing about objectified art for some time now: objectified anything, including art, but also such things as women, self, soul, winning, loosing, good and bad ,to list a few. When an object becomes objectified it loses its power. Objects that lose their power are corrosive and hold no value except by those who are empowered by the object. Owning objects has become so powerful within our culture that it is impossible to escape and is full of materialism. It reduces the object to labels such as she is beautiful, it is beautiful, she is orange, she is an outsider, she is rich, or she is poor. Objects place high value on thingness, appearance, worth, possessions and status.

For the most part, art has become an object to possess and not something to treasure like an aged wine. Art today has become objectified.

Remove objectification and have art be valued for its creativity, and authenticity.
Not all work that is called art is authentic –not all work that a culture calls art is authentic – which is why I say, if everything we create can be called art, then there is no art, art needs value not objectification value, but authentic value. The value of art should be in:

1. In its authenticity:
2. In its uniqueness.
3.In its independence from objectification
4. In its One-of - A Kindness
5. in its individualized properties, which are actualized by the self of the artist. Not every apple that is painted or sculpted is art, some apples are merely cultural objects.
6. Does art have failure and success as part of the process of it’s being created.
7. Is it created?

Good and bad art – let's substitute those values with the words authentic and real, original.

More Posts