Labels That Define Art

Christine Alfery

Posted on November 07 2021

Labels That Define Art

Featured image: Absolutely Delicious

I am pretty sure that there are many architectural buildings that could be defined/labeled as “art.” The Opera House in Sydney Australia, by Jorn Utzon, the Milwaukee Art Museum by Santiago Calatrava, and many of the innovative houses by Frank Lloyd Wright to list a few.

And I am pretty sure there are many scores of music which are also understood as “art.” For me, it is the artistic sounds that the Three Tenors create with very classical and contemporary musical scores. I am sure that they wouldn’t be the choice of many people out there, but for me, the Three Tenors hit the spot.

What makes these things art? That is a question, that hasn’t been answered to anyone’s satisfaction. As long as this question can’t be answered and as long as what is and isn’t art changes and moves artistic venues forward, then I am ok with art’s definition being illusive.

I used to have a friend, I say used to because he doesn’t debate me anymore, and doesn’t correspond like he used to. When we discussed art, and debated upon what was art, we never settled on what art is. He kept thinking that I was excluding his media, which was digital, as not a proper media for art. I always took the position that media does not define art, which is why I began this blog with architecture and music.

I did, however, take the position that not all architecture or music or what ever is being called “art” today should be called art. For example anything about art that defines itself as “the art of” say hair, cigars, etc isn’t art. It is a technique that requires talent to create. However, that doesn’t make it art.

What makes one thing art and another not is easier to identify than to define what “art” is. For example, I do believe that there are different levels and classifications of art objects.Historians and our culture have made sure of that. When I speak of "our culture," I am speaking of the Western/American culture that seems to like to classify and label things. So, why not classify and label art?

I am quite sure that if art is to remain illusive, it is not a good idea to label and classify it. Classifying and labeling art seems to destroy the concept of art all together. What are we destroying when we label and classify? We destroy the entire power of the word, and the freedom and authenticity it embodies.

Many use the word art to attempt to use its power to give themselves power. Sort of like when others use another three letter word “God” to imply their power is God like. There are many gods out there, but to my knowledge there is only one who had a Son who died for all mankind's sins and that set us free.

How I understand the concept of “art” is how I understand the person Jesus Christ. Art sets me free, and there is an enormous power in that. To give it up would destroy the very concept of “art.” It would no longer be free.

More Posts