Value of Art
One is likely to come across people who do not have the slightest interest in art. Whether the painter used water-based or oil-based paint is not of their concern. To them, the nice picture or drawing of a lady in the 1800 could have as well been of another woman drawn naked (could have made it more interesting), or a woman in the year 2010. The nature or details of the piece of art are of least concern to such people. Well, we might argue that they do not have an ‘artistic eye’ or that they were simply born without the interest in art. However, with all these put into consideration, art should be both simple and complex. A good picture should tell a story of a thousand words, they say. A good piece of art should communicate a message at first glance and after reviewing it deeper whether certain or uncertain.
Life is complicated enough. Complicating further will not make it any easier or get heroes out of us. It is important that one should enjoy a piece of art whether they have the so-called ‘artistic eye’ or not. Since art has been there for quite a number of centuries, there must b a specific reason why people keep on doing it century after century, some pieces being auctioned at millions of dollars. Is it the uncertainty that Allison says should come with a good piece of art (Allison 594), or is it just the mare satisfaction and the intrigue that it brings to the audience.
If one decides to carry out some artistic research, one is likely to come across a painting done by a Dutch citizen by the name Jan Weenix. It was done in the 17th century in the year 1685 (Liedtke 50). The name of the painting is Still Life. It is a painting of dead game. Of course, at a first glance, one only notices the dead swan, hare and a bird. Apart from the dead game, there is a restless bird, a barking dog, a few flowers on the ground, where there a few were trampled upon, rose thorns and a calendula plant. A further review into the painting reveals a stone relief that has an image of a woman holding a child. There is also a flying white bird in the scene. There are four human statutes seen in the middle background.
As in many other paintings, the use of the oil paints and the painter’s handwork made the painting look so real. Allison’s claim that an artwork should bring uncertainty so that it qualifies to be successful is not fair at all. There are people who prefer direct things so that they do not to have to take forever to figure out what the painter was trying to communicate when they were making the painting. The message should be clear and precise. If a painting has such kinds of qualities, why should it be termed as unsuccessful? If a painting or a drawing of shows a dog barking, can that just be it? Why try to figure out all other meanings that are so farfetched with the idea that successful pieces of art should be uncertain?
Art is the creativity of an individual. It is not right to judge someone’s work by the work’s certainty or uncertainty of it. It is agreeable. People are different and so are they likely to do things. It is unlikely for there to be one single individual who is the same as the other. For example, Allison tells us that the picture he saw in a magazine of a man waiting to hold a child that was high up in the air brought her scary dreams and discomfort, which was not the aim of the insurance company that was put the advertisement there (Allison 594). This is a reaction that could come up in many cases but it should not necessarily have been originally been provoked by the artist. In the real world, it is unlikely that everybody will get the same interpretation of a particular thing. However, an artist’s work should not be judged by how provocative or uncertain his/her piece of work is. There is nothing wrong with making a direct self-explanatory piece of work.
In this still life painting, the painter was trying to communicate a certain meaning. There were both dead and alive animals. There was a mixture of all types of life: both plant and animal life. The painting brought sad-happy emotions. This is because of the dead game, and the life that was also present and conspicuous in the same piece of work. The people in the painting also signified a sense of what. The painting also communicated a little about the artist. One thing is that he was a Christian. The mother holding a baby on the relief stone signified the holy family of (Joseph, Mary and Jesus). The woman was not just dressed in any other way, but in the way that that the Jewish women dressed. It resembled most paintings of Mary holding Jesus. The dead game the trampled flowers and the dark atmosphere created in the piece of work signified death and doom. However, the beautiful flowers, the flying bird and the barking dog signified life. The Christian have a belief that there is life after death. The mother holding a child also signified new life, that life that is found in a newly born child (Meiger & Ashmolean Museum 166).
Every viewer and observer is entitled to an interpretation. The interpretations can differ greatly or have similar perspectives. This comes naturally rather that intentionally. It is unfair to put a certain rule that an artist must come up with a piece of work that is left to be judged by the audience rather than communicate an intended message. If one looks at the Still Life painting and only see death, cruelty, murder and darkness, then another looks at the same painting and see, life, hope and redemption, it should be completely up to the audience and not the painter. If a photographer decides to take of a photo of a child dying of hunger or malnutrition in order to communicate what some people are going through, it should not be his fault if a business man sees a business opportunity in the same picture (Liedtke 55).
A number of things come automatically without being provoked. As mentioned earlier, we will all look at a particular thing and have very different interpretations. There are people who make the drawings of Jesus with a homogeneous intention. The last supper painting to communicates Jesus last minutes with His disciples and its significance. However, individual people may get many interpretations from the same painting. Let the artist be aloud to communicate whatever he/she feels like communicating. If the audience get a different meaning from what was intended, or other diverse meanings apart from the original intended by the artist, it should all be up to the audience.
A piece of art should tell of a story. There are people who sit down and make a sculpture in order to tell the culture story of a particular community. Others will make a painting in an attempt to describe what a certain author in a particular book or story wanted to put across or had in mind when telling that particular story. Pictures made after a story or a poem in a particular book have been written, tend to make the reader have a definite picture of what the author was talking about rather than an imagination left with a story without a picture. When this takes place, does this mean that the artwork is not successful? For example, many drawings and paintings have been done from Shakespeare’s poems and plays. In some recent research, I also came across some paintings and drawings done to describe Dante Alighieri’s poem: The Divine Comedy. If all these were taken to an exhibition or a competition, would they be described as unsuccessful?
It is only fair that every artist be judged on their quality of work and that is because in the real world, people have to judge and categorize works. However, if it were to be possible, there should be no judgment or categorizing. One should only look at a piece of work and just try to analyze what the artist had in mind when coming up with that particular work. If it is definite like in the case of a painting that had been inspired by an already existing written work, then it should be taken and appreciated as so. Sometimes people complicate things more than they already are. Maybe it is also good to look at something and just get the first simple interpretation that came into his/her mind. Maybe that was what the artist had in mind to begin with.
A pastor once told us that he was once astonished by his own work. This happened when a teacher gave a completely new interpretation of some work he had come up with. When he was still in high school, a teacher told them to write an essay like what is done at some point in school. He had given the students the liberty to choose a topic of their interest and then write an interesting essay about it. Once they were through and had handed in their essays, the waited to get a feedback. The pastor was particularly nervous about this work as he was not sure whether he had done something good enough to get a good grade. Before the teacher handed in the papers, he commented about a few essays. The pastor’s essay was one of them. The surprising thing is that he made a very positive comment. He later described about what it was all about. When the pastor listened to the explanation the teacher was giving, he almost stopped him because he thought that the teacher was not talking about his paper. The teacher had made out a completely different explanation from what the –pastor had in mind to begin with. In the pastor’s mind, he thought like “I only meant this…not all that jargon you are talking about…” if the pastor was doing a piece of art, and the teacher failed to interpret it the way he had done, would the pastor have failed.
If we have to judge, we should judge by the quality of work. How successful; was the artist in communicating a message? Which colors could he have used in order to bring out a better impression? Are there other details he could have added in order to bring out a better piece of art? What better angle could have the photo been shot from in order to get fuller details? And so on. Each artist tells of his or her own story. Although he/she is telling to a diverse audience, there is a that basic message that he /she intends to put across. Most artists talk of the real and the imagined world. Some draw pictures of hell while others draw the pictures of heaven. Most of them do it with a single intention. The rest if any is secondary. For example, paintings done with the inspired by Dante’s poem about hell, try to describe the different levels of hell talked about in Dante’s poem. A photo taken of the wildlife in Africa mostly talks about the beauty of Africa and its wildlife.
The Mona Lisa painting gains its fame mostly because of the woman’s eyes. They seem to be looking at the observer no matter which angle one stands in a room. It is highly unlikely that it got its fame because of its uncertainty. Most of Leonardo’s works were of the same nature. They did not come into fame because of the uncertainty but rather the contents. However, the painting on the last supper is one that brings controversy because of the presence of a woman as one of the disciples. This contradicted many Christians’ belief and what was written in the book they follow called the bible. According to the bible, Jesus had no female disciples. The females only listened to his teachings but Jesus did not appoint them as he did the other disciples.
Claiming that a piece of art should be uncertain in order to be successful is quite ambiguous. What is uncertainty? Who determines whether a piece of art is uncertain or not? Is the judgment not left to the observer alone? Let every artist do his/her work as he wishes. There should be no rules set. That is why it is art. It allows one to imagine and be creative then put his/her creativity across. It is important that we all try to communicate the message that is within us without necessarily being judged by hoe certain or uncertain our work is. All we have to is try and make our audience see our point of view of a particular work. Let one define art and bring forth what he/she feels is within but not let a set of rules define how art should be graded in order to term it successful.
Allison, Dorothy. This is our World. 1998. Web. 24 May 2011.
Liedtke, Walter. Dutch Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Vol 1-2. Copenhagen: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009. Print.
Meiger, Fred & Ashmolean Museum. Dutch and Flemish Still Life Paintings. New York: Waanders, 2003. Print.