Policing Other People’s Art

Art World News, Painting

Okay so I need to get this off my chest. It’s one of my biggest pet peeves in the art world and I’m getting kind of sick of it. Then again, I guess that’s what I get for reading the internet comments sections, regardless of the website. Of course now that I want to write about it, I can’t find the specific comment that set me off. It was either on Elle Decor or Decor8 or Domaine Home or something like that but I can’t find it for the life of me. It was in response to an article on Oliver Jeffers and his dipped paintings. (Which literally everyone is writing about right now. It’s hard to keep track.) These altered portraits are gorgeous and mysterious and completely innovative. They have also inspired a new DIY decor trend where bloggers and amateur artists all over the internet are trying their hand at his technique. I think this is pretty cool. But apparently a bunch of random people online feel the need to police what is and is not art.

The offending comment said something to the effect of, “this isn’t art because it doesn’t require any precise brushwork or because it wasn’t technically difficult to create.” This internet commenter, a self-proclaimed artist, seemed to feel that it was insulting to her work and her craft that someone who makes easy-to-produce art should be recognized as an artist. But art is not defined by the effort put in, but rather by the result. You do not judge art based on how hard the artist worked to create it. You judge the piece itself. And sometimes, the simplest brushstrokes have the most profound effect. Whether a piece takes three years or three minutes to create has nothing to do with its quality. Some of the most tremendously talented artists of our generation make art which doesn’t require this woman’s narrow-minded definition of artistry. In fact many of my absolute favorite artists are those that push the boundaries of what can and cannot be considered art.

I personally love Oliver Jeffers’ dipped paintings. I think the neon blue ads something incredible to an otherwise hum drum and traditional portrait. It’s brilliant. But that is just my opinion. Whether or not it is art; that’s not up to me. That is up to the artist. And I would advise anyone involved in the online arts community to recognize this difference. I may love a piece or I may hate it, and it is my right to share those opinions. But I do not get to chose what is art and what is merely craft. That is not my right.

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