Re: ART: What Art Is

From: Technotranscendence (
Date: Mon May 29 2000 - 21:08:22 MDT

On Sunday, May 28, 2000 5:07 PM Alex wrote:
> As a bit of an artist myself (i'm not sure which bit) I have always
> the "...I know what I like" train of thought.

Only curious: what art does Alex do? I dabble in poetry, drawing, painting,
and short stories. In the past, I tried music and still have the urge to
try that again.

While I'm not strictly against the "I know what I like" school of art
criticism, I don't think it's the end of esthetics. After all, the question
is still there of why one likes what one likes. Also, the question of why
all human societies have art while extant nonhumans appear not to have it
remains. Also, the major art forms -- literature, painting, sculpture, and
music -- seem universal in human cultures. Regardless of one's stand on
Rand's esthetics, these are still intriguing questions which she tried to
answer or, at least, provide a framework for further research on.

> IMHO Vangough couldn't paint
> for toffee, his pictures belong in a school corridor somewhere with a
> saying "1st year art class". On the other hand the work of Picasso amuzes
> greatly and I like it. This is my taste and I don't feel have to defend
> If someone thinks its worth hanging in a gallery and putting a
> price tag on it, thats fine by me and I respect their taste.

No arguing with that. No one really has to defend their taste. Personally,
I don't like and have never like Picasso, but I love van Gogh. I didn't
always feel this way about him, but the more I've looked at his works --
quite a number in the flesh -- the more I like them.

> Nothing winds me up more than some jumped up "insert expletive here"
> thinks they have the right to tell me what is and what isn't good art. I
> never read any of Rand's opinions and don't intend to. Like wise my view
> most critics is that can stick them, I have my own mind and my own

I don't think Rand was asking you to substitute her mind and opinion for
anyone's in her _The Romantic Manifesto_. Even by her explicit theory, she
distinguishes between personal tastes and esthetic evaluation/judgment. She
even gives examples of works she thinks are great but which did not like and
works she likes which are not great by her standards.

This is where the popular notion of "guilty pleasures" comes in. No doubt,
some of this is due to leftover cultural elitism, but I don't think this
makes it completely invalid. After all, sometimes our ideal of ourself is
out of line with the reality. Okay, most times our ideal is out of line
with it.:)

> As for modern art, I can take it or leave it. I know one thing, I
> have room for half a picked Cow in my front room.


Daniel Ust

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