Discovering Art – Introduction
I do not mean to mislead you with the title Discovering Art. You may think I know what art is and plan to say something new on the subject; I plan to do much less. If I were to say anything new about art, I would begin by answering the question, “What is Art?” But the truth is, I cannot answer that question, not with any confidence. There are already three books with that title, one authored by a prolific art critic, another by an “influential” artist, and one by Leo Tolstoy. So if you are looking to answer that question, I would ask them.
When we talk about art, we quickly become confused. This is partly due to language. Builders build. Writers write. Runners run. And artists, what? Art? Should we simply add a verb to the dictionary and rectify our quandary? That solution seems to bypass our problem, not resolve it. So what do we know about art before bewilderment arrives? We tend to describe artists or their artwork as creative, and reference the “creative process.” At a minimum, artists create art. So, for now, when I say art, what I mean is creation. And when I say artist, I mean creator.
Also, we will not skip the creator and rush to their product, that is, artwork. So before we start pushing kids over and setting off alarms trying to look at a painting on the wall, lets relax. The Sistine Chapel didn’t paint itself. The Great Sphinx didn’t saunter into the desert on its own. Neither did A Tale of Two Cities appear out of thin air. Where did they come from? Unless you believe in ghosts, art begins with the artist, and so it seems reasonable that we should too. In fact we will discuss quite a few topics before we get to the artist’s work.
We will take six snap-shots of the artist and their world. Along the way we will enlist the help of several famous creators and discuss some common problems that befall art. By the end of all this I hope you will have discovered something new. Again, nothing original from my mouth, as if I conjured Art from the primordial ooze or spoke it into being. I hope you simply turn over an old rock and discover a new patch of ground, one that’s been there all along.