Blog: What Is Art? – Part 3

Christine Alfery

Posted on July 16 2018

Soulful Jazz Singer by Christine Alfery

Featured image: Soulful Jazz Singer

“…the earth, and compel men entranced by the sight of distant goals to glance for a moment at the surrounding vision of form and color, of sunshine and shadows: to make them pause for a look, for a sigh, for a smile—such is the aim, difficult and evanescent, and reserved only for a few to achieve. This applies to my goal to make people stop and not just glance at my work but really see it and the world it conveys.” Kay Lorbecki

“All art appears primarily to the senses, …. All art must make its appear through the senses, if its high desire is to reach the secret spring of responsive emotions.”  Joseph Conrad. Preface to, “The …. of the Narcissus.” This preface was written in 1957.  Back then in order for something to be called “art”  it needed a purity, to it, a notion of originality, the senses it was believed was one way of finding and expressing that purity.  Since then this notion of purity through the senses has transformed, morphed into art can be anything and everything and anyone can be an artist. And I don’t need to understand it because it’s art.

If art is anything and everything then it is nothing.  If art is only related to the senses and it is the individuals personal senses and every individuals sense of art is right – then there is nothing right in art.  And again art is nothing.

Art needs to be sensed, but that is not the only thing that makes art art – the notion of originality hasn’t changed.  The dictionary defines originality as “the ability to think “– note the word think here – “independently and creatively.  The quality of being novel or unusual.  Inventiveness, ingenuity, creativeness, creativity, innovation, novelty, freshness, imaginations, individuality, unconventionality, uniqueness, distinctiveness.”

This, uniqueness,  includes the senses.  Your senses my senses are one of a kind, unique – so then how do we know a work is a work of art if the concept of art is dependent on originality and the senses.  So when one looks at a work of art – one can sense it is a a horse say, but how is that horse rendered.  If the life of the artist and the horse evident in the work.  If the viewer only sees what is recognizable, then that sense is not unique – the viewer and the artist need to move beyond, discover what is the uniqueness of the form and how the artist uniquely rendered it.

Does this mean anything uniquely rendered is art?  No because then all unique things could be called art.  It takes more and I do believe that Conrad captured that sense of moreness with his comment, “To arrest, for the space of a breath, …and compel men entranced by the sight of distant goals to glance for a moment at the surrounding vision of form and colour, of sunshine and shadows; to make them pause for a look, for a sigh, for a smile – such is the aim, difficult and evanescent and reserved only for a few to achieve.  But sometimes, by the deserving and the fortunate, even that task is accomplished.  And when it is accomplished – behold! – all the truth of life is there: a moment of vision, a sign, a smile – and the return to an eternal rest.” Joseph Conrad. Preface to, “The …. of the Narcissus,”

So dear friend Kay Lorbecki I come to the same conclusion that you have re the question what is art and I have returned to the quote you like from Conrad “

To arrest, for the space of a breath, the hands busy about the work of

Just wha

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