Blog: Where Is The Truth In Art? What Is The Truth In Art?

Christine Alfery

Posted on August 10 2017

Blog: Where Is The Truth In Art? What Is The Truth In Art?

Featured image: Leap of Faith


Could the truth in art be the identification of the facts of what art is? If we don’t identify what art is … is there no truth in art? Does art need a truth? If it needs identification, what is art, then it needs a truth.

There is a constant question, yes but is it art? Does it qualify as art? What qualifies art? An artist I was just reviewing. Damien Hurst has taken his foundational history, saw a rupture in it, followed the rupture and developed it from an abstraction to a full conceptual idea about art, life, death and the in-between – his work begs that question – yes but is it art? If there is no truth in art, if there is no accepted value system as to what art is or isn’t then because he calls his work art, and because others of authority call his work art – it must be art.

Damien Hurst, a very provocative creator of something, is it art? At first glance, his conceptual ideas were innovative. Few artists talk about life and death and the in-between, so in that respect it introduces a new way to think about life and death. Hurst’s portrayal of death is shocking as compared to the work by artist Jacques-Louis David, “The Death of Marat. But Hurst did not shift the historical discourse regarding art and what qualifies as art and what is the truth about art, why?

It is only when artists create a work to break rules of the past, done in the 60’s and accepted as a value works that qualify as art should have, did the question arise, is the new, the shocking what art is? For the most part after the big hurrah of breaking the rules people in the art arena began looking for different values for art. People who love art, who collect art, who create art began to abandon the traditional historical “critical” theological framework of the next differently new work, mainly shocking work qualified as a value for deciding whether the work was art or not.

For me I am problematizing the artwork as I am finding it, I have found the only way to do this is to abandon this theological framework. And thinking of art mainly as an ethos or attitude about art’s relationship to the present, the birth of art that is presently being created. How do we value this new work, through difference, the shock of the new, through bliss and trying to find art’s holistic truth?

Those conceptual ideas don’t seem to be working anymore. Notice what is emerging today, what seems to draw in many today is an artist’s sense of life. Yes, we, those of us involved in the arts, were drawn into Damien Hurst’s formaldehyde works. These works did give us his sense of life and death, but was it art? Was it art because it was shocking? Was it not art because it didn’t make us feel good and happy about life, it did not inspire us? Is it art because his work shattered the world record for an auction sale dedicated to a single artist? Is it important for a collective body of values to determine what is art today and what isn’t?

If it is important that a collective body of values determine what art is or isn’t today, will always change, always be a bumpy right for all we need to do is read the reviews on the current Damien Hurst current exhibition where the collective values are yelling a resounding no – I do not value this work as art.

So, what is the truth in art today? Is there any truth, or are we left in a post-modern funk where everything and anything can be art? Oh, I hope we are not in that place because then art can be anything and everything. Could it be that we have returned to where the art-admiring public needs to start looking for art, and what they value in art somewhere else other than allowing the theological order of things determine it.


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