Art -- is there good / bad art, is there right / wrong in art?

As someone who's going to an Art Major, yes, technically speaking, there is no such thing as bad art. However, as an Art student, there is some work that must be judged at a professional level. When I do art, my teacher looks at several things to make sure its right:
Physics: Does the light fall down on the object in a logical way.
Values: Did you put a lot of values to give the object a sense of depth?
Unity: Does everything go together, or is it random?
Contrast: Do the colors contrast to show off well? Do they fit.
These are just some of the questions.
To answer your question, its a lot more difficult for studio artists to sell their work. For starters, there are degrees available now so, places where studio artists want to sell their work such as museums are more selective. non-professional People can't often sell their work because they don't follow the steps listed above and Moree reasons.
 

Hulavuta

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Also, to the people who invoke Pollock and the like in discussions like this: Postmodernist art is not "good" art in and of itself. It's an aberration and won't even get so much as a footnote in the annals of art history 200 years down the line. Its only function is being a half-baked philosophical rejection of modernity, not something that seriously pushes any medium forward.
But isn't the point of it that there really is no forward? I can get behind this to an extent (maybe if you refer simply to aesthetics, but again that's so radically subjective) but art from any era will always criticize or affirm something about the milieu it's created in. I think there is something to be said about the idea that art is not "progressing" but is simply "changing", even if I don't think I necessarily agree with it.


Cresselia~~ it seems to me, and correct me if I'm wrong, that you are judging how good art is by how technically realistic it is. But more realistic only means better insofar as you are going for a realistic style. There can be simple art and difficult art, but more difficult does not necessarily mean better. Some forms will be simple by necessity and there's nothing you can really do to make it more difficult.

Now there is definitely something to be said about, let's say, narcissistic or cynical art. Someone maybe thinking they can "game the system" just by dumping shit and taking advantage of the fact that art is so subjective. Even this gets a little dicey though, as there are lots of art movements that intentionally do this as their meaning.

I think there are multiple factors that go into judging art, only one of which is the actual technical skill of it. Meaning is a whole separate thing. Just like how you could enjoy a song just because it's uptempo and exciting or you could also enjoy it because you find that the lyrics are very poetic and meaningful. Spoken word is a good example of this as it bucks the rhythm and pitch to a good extent; it's definitely less technical but that does not mean it's less meaningful.

Since I don't wanna just make this post vague and inconclusive, I will say it depends on how you define "good". If you define it as technical proficiency, then yes some art can be better than others and that can be measured fairly objectively. If you define good as in how personally meaningful it is, then no there is no objective good or bad.
 

Chou Toshio

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Yes.



I don't understand why people say that there's no right or wrong in art? And that there's no good / bad art?
These people say that art is purely subjective, with no objective rules??
And that you think something is bad art is solely due to you not liking it.

What about proportions, perspective, and shading then?
Why would stuff like color theory exist?

If there's no good/ bad art, then why don't they start calling themselves professional artists and start making money this way?
By their logic, everyone can create good art?

I mean, can someone tell me where this belief come from?
Is it being taught in schools or anything?
Postmodernism.
[Half-ironically] All bad things come from postmodernism.[/irony]
 
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You actually expected people to take your ludicrous post seriously?

It's okay to be scared to engage in a debate with me, just don't reply.
Just because people don't want to waste their time to debate with someone who thought that writing something while putting the n word like, every other 5 words,a nd calling that somehow art and thought provoking doesn't make them scared. It actually means they think your points are fucking garbage and not worth the time to debate
 
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Chou Toshio

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wait, which one is supposed to be good?
And that right there is the source of very very very much of modern society's ills. Policy is best progressive and enabling of peoples-- but my seeing that universal healthcare and higher estate taxes are good policies does not change the fact that individuals and communities do better if they are culturally conservative--not at social memes (pick your social justice cause), but at a fundamental level. If they believe in hierarchies, achievement, hard work, objective excellence. I want people to flourish, and those attitudes still help holders of them flourish more than the progressive policies I would perscribe (though the policies only help...).

Excellence is real in that excellence is more fit.

One of these aquarists gets flown around the world constantly with countless adoring fans. The other is not an artist.
 
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Blazade

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In my years studying math one of the most interesting side topics I got to explore was the game theoretic understanding of convention. And for me this theory highlights the relative objectivity of a collective subjective evaluation; you don't need rules, traditions, or hierarchies to be able to say something is "good" and have it mean something.

I am a firm believer that art is in the eye of the beholder, and that collective opinion is measurable and carries a significant amount of information. Sometimes, a person's technique or hard work is apparent, and the gravitas of that effort propels them into recognition. Other times, an artist works within estabished convention or pokes at it in specific ways to draw attention from the art community by speaking their language. When we go to museums, we are taught the historical significance of pieces on display , which also creates a convention.

I'm not trying to say popularity is everything, quite the contrary. Convention can be and has been wrong from a God's eye perspective and to say the better art is the one with more support misses the point. But mutual observation and mutual recognition is a vechicle by which ideas can become tangible. Good art has strong ideas which connect with people in apparent, observable ways.
 

Soul Fly

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And that right there is the source of very very very much of modern society's ills. Policy is best progressive and enabling of peoples-- but my seeing that universal healthcare and higher estate taxes are good policies does not change the fact that individuals and communities do better if they are culturally conservative--not at social memes (pick your social justice cause), but at a fundamental level. If they believe in hierarchies, achievement, hard work, objective excellence. I want people to flourish, and those attitudes still help holders of them flourish more than the progressive policies I would perscribe (though the policies only help...).

Excellence is real in that excellence is more fit.

One of these aquarists gets flown around the world constantly with countless adoring fans. The other is not an artist.
All I see is aggressive virtue signalling and something something about cultural conservatism and policymaking (?).....

What I unfortunately cannot see is an argument.

Please tell me which one is better. Please also preferably tell me why the other is not an artist, if you can manage.
 
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dice

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the hegemonic 'objective' parameters of any art form will have exceptions that break down the perceived hierarchy. cultural context, message, novelty, boundaries, and a litany of other factors are at play when you're determining what is 'good' and 'bad' art. we can uphold certain art as beautiful, sure, but 'objectivity' fails to account for so many forms and realities.

my favorite artist is emma magenta, a very lowkey poet & artist who draws very child-like with her left hand. she went to art school, but felt as though her right hand became colonized by institutionalized learning. as such, she began refinding her inner child and emotions by using her non-dominant hand. her characters are reminiscent of her psyche, and eek out parts of her that she never really knew prior to her paintings. i think they're incredibly impactful, despite not meeting the 'objective' parameters of what is 'good' art.

drawing parallels between policies that impact people vs. expressions of one self that are upheld by inefficient frameworks is so dangerous & silly. cultural decay happens when you're unable to be self-reflexive: to shy away from, critique, and uphold basic standards of thought; not when you're working to making this mode of freedom a reality. understanding the epistemology of art isn't disregarding how a picasso piece is on a level playing field with a baby splashing paint on a canvas, and these kinds of conclusions are reminiscent of the very fragile reality that you're existing in.

here are some of her drawings.

1526237935122.png
1526237962444.png
 
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tcr

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And that right there is the source of very very very much of modern society's ills. Policy is best progressive and enabling of peoples-- but my seeing that universal healthcare and higher estate taxes are good policies does not change the fact that individuals and communities do better if they are culturally conservative--not at social memes (pick your social justice cause), but at a fundamental level. If they believe in hierarchies, achievement, hard work, objective excellence. I want people to flourish, and those attitudes still help holders of them flourish more than the progressive policies I would perscribe (though the policies only help...).

Excellence is real in that excellence is more fit.

One of these aquarists gets flown around the world constantly with countless adoring fans. The other is not an artist.
what the fuck does this have to do with art
 

TheValkyries

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I think my favorite part of Chou’s aquarium post is he thinks the art being extremely contrasted is the making of aquariums and not photography. “Ceci n’est pas un pipe”

Of course my second favorite part is his brief reminder of his immense fascination with Social Darwinism.
 

Chou Toshio

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All I see is aggressive virtue signalling and something something about cultural conservatism and policymaking (?).....

What I unfortunately cannot see is an argument.
I was just making a troll post, not actually expecting any bites but here we are. The vast majority of people— including those who care only about progressive causes and not ugly ideology— do not care about defending postmodernism. I care about social democracy, but definitely not post modernism, and worry about those who do.
Please tell me which one is better. Please also preferably tell me why the other is not an artist, if you can manage.
Excellence is real in that excellence is more fit.
I already answered your question. Anyone can put water in a jar and call it an aquarium, but learning how to care for fish and plants, engineer for both husbandry and design, and learn the skills from the basics of stone arrangement and composition and up through advanced concepts like emotion journey and reflection manipulation; not to mention abilities not based on skills but instead in intuition and experience like nature study, planting with sense of wabi-sabi and fish selection— those might be things you want or need to garner respect or recognition. At the very least, you're most likely to lose to people who choose to understand and care about those topics.

There are different dimensions that come into making great art and sometimes someone discovers a new dimension or changes the paradigm—

But there is such a thing as excellence because there is such a thing as achievement. Excellence is real in that excellence is more fit. Hierarchies are things we share with lobsters, they’re older than the trees.

And whether you’re a craft master or paradigm changer, the fact that your achievement is based on tramendous effort and self-sacrifice is most definitely near universal.

Oh, and talent. We are not blank slates.
 
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Chou Toshio

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I think my favorite part of Chou’s aquarium post is he thinks the art being extremely contrasted is the making of aquariums and not photography. “Ceci n’est pas un pipe”

Of course my second favorite part is his brief reminder of his immense fascination with Social Darwinism.
Not so much social Darwinism, more like evolutionary biology. All things evolve, including societies and memes. Caring about the mechanism of evolution is hardly something to be embarrassed of— whether it’s in biology, computers, or design, evolution is a powerful mechanism humans should care about.

The people who deny evolution, we laugh at them and call them backwards.

It’s also natural that an artist like myself devoted to nature’s beauty should also be fascinated by evolution.

Also photography is also an extremely high skill art form. You really can't be a great planted aquarium designer without caring to study photography, at least to a certain degree.
 
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Soul Fly

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dude feel free to go back and quote my passionate defence of "postmodernism" or maybe stop putting words in my mouth.

If you are making a case for effort that's all well and good. Effort is a good thing. But then you are conflating to it a relationship with popularity and appeal which literally makes zero sense and is never argued.
If you are making case for art in terms of audience response and fame (Like say juxtaposing two pictures and implying one is just better, or saying things like: "One of these aquarists gets flown around the world constantly with countless adoring fans. The other is not an artist.") then I'll just politely point out that, that's a godawful metric to judge anything, especially art.

I still don't understand all that spiel on fitness and evolution, but I'll disengage because (a) it sounds like irrelevant agenda mongering, and (b) I am not sure if I'm speaking with you or a parody of r/JordanPeterson
 
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Blazade

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Regardless of everything else, purely from a "beauty of art" perspective, genetic algorithms are total bullshit.

They basically take all the bad parts of starting with a training data set and combine it with the bad parts of a random sampling algorithm. They aren't guaranteed to converge to a global optimum, they're very dependent on what kind of crossover and mutation method you decide to use, and they do even less when you try to optimize for multidimensional output. The best it can do is guarantee you've got something better than you already have, and we don't have mathematical rigor supporting its ability to do better than that. They're the kind of thing we copy from nature because we understand the process, not something we'd design or use on our own without a baseline.

And if you think I'm a bit off base talking about mathematical beauty in an art thread, I'll remind you that when you go deep enough into theoretical physics or pure math, you're essentially in a creative discipline.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2018/04/lost-in-math-beauty-truth/

My Dad sent me a review of a book about the pursuit of beauty in theoretical physics, and while i think it falls short in describing how "beautiful" theories are given life and support without evidence, it captures the romanticism and artistic process behind this scientific pursuit.
 

Hipmonlee

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If there's a thing out there, that is somebody's favourite of that type of thing and you dont like it, that's a failure of empathy/understanding on your part.

Of course, there's lots of reasons you might not want to empathise with/understand some person. That's up to you.

Like how I dislike Choutoshio's ideal lobster society.

And that's why postmodernism is objectively better than everything else. Literally.
 
Chou's first picture is a betta in an aquarium with rainbow gravels and plastic plants. The betta is undoubtedly suffering and having a worse quality of life compared to fish in the second picture. I am an aquarist and speak from experience that environment obviously matters for the quality of life for fish. Now, the question is- does the moral consideration matter for the aesthetics considerations? Does it matter if betta is having a crappy life as long the owner gets a kick out of that unique aesthetic of aquarium? Especially when the second picture has a higher moral worth for the subjects of art with more popularity. Maybe there is a utilitarian argument somewhere here.

The suffering of viewers and subjects caused by art > Pleasure for people for that art = bad art?

Another extreme example is foot binding. Yes, it was done for aesthetics and can easily be considered as art. The real question, is it practical and desirable to consider any foot binding as "good art"?
 

TheValkyries

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Yeah that’s a good point actually. Art fundamentally is a style of communication so to me the ONLY way art can be bad is because the message being communicated is morally bad. Any measurement of “objective” quality however is still fundamentally useless since the rules are arbitrary and all art needs to do is communicate itself effectively. A man, tearful and shaking, recounting the story of how his daughter tragically died and the role of negligence he had in it is still emotionally affecting even if his grammar is poor. Art isn’t about being the best at following the rules it’s about communicating different perspectives and fostering understanding between people.
 
I don't agree that the morality of message is the point. A painting that depicts bad morality isn't amoral in my opinion. But, the painting made of murdered people's blood would be amoral. The medium itself would have to be amoral for me to be considered as bad art in order to maintain a healthy society and so on.
 

HeaLnDeaL

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I teach illustration and piano in real life, so I find people like you very difficult to understand.
I asked you whether it's your education that taught you that, because I've never seen an Asian saying that art is purely subjective.
This concept is entirely new to me.
I just spent a few weeks in Beijing for an art collaboration and I do think that there's a certain level of difference between how Asians and Americans/Europeans treat the making of art. Before I say anymore I just want to preface this by saying that much of my post here includes broad generalizations which are based on my experience through my artistic education and through the little time I had working with my Chinese collaborator(s) and that anything I say here shouldn't be taken as the end-all, be-all comparison (in fact, if you have experiences that contradict the ones I'm listing here, feel free to share!). I'm going to choose to frame my post based on "techniques" (and later on "concepts") as a way to more concretely explain some of the trends in art making to illustrate what I believe are some of the differences in thought between American/European and Asian art education, but also beware that framing things purely with technique doesn't allow some of the other nuances to show through...

I think both Western and Eastern artists (forgive me for even making such a binary divide) do have sets of criteria for "judging" art that both include technique, and we can loosely define a technique as any form of strategy that is meant to convey specific information. When making a realistic drawing or painting, many of the techniques you listed earlier such as perspective and modeling of depth are completely valid and can be praiseworthy across cultures. Other times, certain techniques are maybe slightly more culturally slanted in their appreciation, as I would hazard a guess that many Chinese ink or watercolor paintings and Japanese woodblock prints hold a "technique" of a balance of information between detailed painted areas, vague areas, and large empty spaces that might read similarly to a musical rhythm with resting periods (and we often don't see this level of detail/emptiness contrast in western art).

The word "postmodernism" has been thrown around this thread for quite some time, but in art one of the biggest implications of postmodernism that hasn't really been talked about here is the removal of "medium specificity" and the consequent blending together of the arts. This blend allowed different art forms to inform one another and allowed for the techniques of one art to be put into another. While often he's linked more with modernism than postmodernism, Pollock's techniques for painting were very kinetic and action-based if not outright performative, something that wasn't in the tool-set of painting techniques very often prior to him. In the wake of postmodernism, many of the famous artists of the 1960s and 1970s began really messing around with borrowing techniques from other art forms and the case has been made that even the boundaries between art and life had been blurred too (and in the 90s, the clear emergence of "social art" can be seen that makes this latter blurring even more obvious). Techniques used to be arguably medium specific, but when medium specificity collapsed a weird fusion of new material was available to be etched with new techniques, both literally as mark-making and more figuratively in terms of applying mental techniques from one art (or one field of life) to another. Writing, theater, painting, performance, sculpture, architecture, etc could be combined and re-articulated into new forms and in the modern art world we now have the term "installation" for works of art that combine objects (paintings, sculptures, furniture, etc) with space (architecture/rooms or other defined or undefined volumes). Within installations, there are still the techniques for making an object that are necessary for the work, but the techniques of how to display the object are very much needed as well. Technique cross-pollination greatly expanded or re-expanded the forms of art making and I think this is a very key point to make when discussing cultural attitudes towards art making.

The early stages of my personal art education was almost entirely based on learning techniques for a specific medium. However, as I moved through undergrad, there was a much greater room for experimentation and for the blending of techniques and mediums to occur. There might be the idea of a "traditional" American college having art programs that allow for a student to focus on one specific medium to learn and master the techniques that belong to it. My undergrad and definitely my current grad school do not follow this build and instead actively promote the cross pollination of the arts and their techniques, and from my understanding it is the current trend for art schools in America to operate more like this and it is rarer to find programs that are entirely medium specific (and those who teach at inter-medium schools tend to scoff at those who go to a single medium program and follow a list of techniques religiously).

At the same time, a school that has single medium classifications within their program also have a very clear and easy to understand structure throughout the education process; if you're a painting student, you learn how to paint and you learn painting techniques and you keep on painting and your education is to get better at painting. These educational goals obviously cannot transfer and remain intact within the inter-medium system and what usually ends up happening is that after teaching basic techniques across a number of media, the educational process shifts to teaching students how to develop artistic "concepts." A concept is sometimes a loose term but generally it means what the work of art is supposed to be about or the processes that are informing its creation. If you really boil it down, the concept is often the work of art minus any physical objects or spaces that eventually will be made; it is the idea that the artist works with to eventually make the work. Now, of course you can easily say that medium-specific artworks have ideas too! (And you'd be correct.) If you're painting a history painting of some sort of event, the event itself is often a huge part of the concept. But why are you painting the event? Say an artist is painting the bombing of Hiroshima; that's the theme but not the concept or the why. The concept in this instance could be an emotional reaction such as grief or anger or it could be an intellectual contemplation such as the analysis of political power. In any case, once an artist is armed with a concept, he/she can then start to engineer how to make their artwork and oftentimes the medium of choice has a connection with the concept itself (and so a single artist making multiple works and each work having a unique concept is often better off having preliminary introductions into the techniques of a wide variety of media rather than mastering one medium so that he/she can pick different materials the fit a concept and be able to work with them).

My personal experience is that my American (or Canadian) classmates are able to work with these concepts and can use them to create a wide array of social, personal, or aesthetic artworks. My personal experience with the recent 2+ weeks with my Chinese collaborators however found that they were more comfortable talking about techniques and were less comfortable talking about concepts (which is similar to my experience with my American friends who went through medium-specific art programs, which makes me think the educational process is an important element beyond just cultural differences, and my Chinese collaborators seem to have claimed that medium-specific programs are the norm in China). To some degree I think part of this just might be a cultural dissonance between some concepts fitting an American audience but not a Chinese audience. I also don't think that my Chinese collaborators were completely devoid of an understanding of concept. But more often than not, the concept-technique relationship seemed inversed in which my American classmates and I would want to start projects with ideas and concepts and figure out techniques later whereas our Chinese collaborators seemed to have a greater connection with using techniques and themes first and coming up with concepts later.

Now, how does this all loop back to "good art/bad art" and "right art/wrong art"? I think that phrases like "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" or "art is subjective and anyone is allowed to like any art they like" have a subtext that recognizes what an "artistic concept" is. We might hear phrases like "well the artist's intent was not to be realistic, so we shouldn't judge his/her painting on realism" but this only then begs the question of what the intent actually was. And in many cases, the intent is also synonymous with the concept. And I think in modern art criticism, there is a multi-step process for evaluation:

Can the viewer identify the concept? (probably the first question that a Westerner versed in arts/criticism would ask, but maybe not the first question people from other cultures or backgrounds would ask)
Is the concept personally relevant/interesting to the viewer?
Are the techniques sufficient / show skill / show "aesthetics"?
Are the techniques aligned with the concept?

Now, these questions each individually allow for individual interpretation or subjectivity, but their collective "rubric" or thought process of arriving at the conclusion is fairly logical. This is to say that though art is subjective and up to the individual's interpretation, it does not mean that evaluation (by the individual) is a useless and illogical pursuit. Art is a form of communication and for the art to communicate its concept and appeal to a viewer shows a successful result to that viewer, and for an artwork not to convey these to one viewer doesn't mean it can't be successful with another.

There's also weird instances where a viewer might really like the techniques or overall aesthetics of an artwork but may dislike the concept (or not be able to identify the concept at all) or when a viewer really likes the concept but dislikes the overall look or composition of techniques. In such cases, these criteria could be used to point of "failings" of an artwork to critique it or justify an opinion.

Anyway sorry for my very long post and sorry if things don't make much sense but I could spend hours trying to say more or to edit more but at some point I just have to stop...

Cresselia~~ I know you started this thread by asking questions and though you've responded to other people's answers I oddly feel like I haven't heard a lot about your personal opinions regarding appropriate judgement (or lack thereof) in art. I'm curious to hear more from you : )
 

Cresselia~~

Junichi Masuda likes this!!
I just spent a few weeks in Beijing for an art collaboration and I do think that there's a certain level of difference between how Asians and Americans/Europeans treat the making of art. Before I say anymore I just want to preface this by saying that much of my post here includes broad generalizations which are based on my experience through my artistic education and through the little time I had working with my Chinese collaborator(s) and that anything I say here shouldn't be taken as the end-all, be-all comparison (in fact, if you have experiences that contradict the ones I'm listing here, feel free to share!). I'm going to choose to frame my post based on "techniques" (and later on "concepts") as a way to more concretely explain some of the trends in art making to illustrate what I believe are some of the differences in thought between American/European and Asian art education, but also beware that framing things purely with technique doesn't allow some of the other nuances to show through...

I think both Western and Eastern artists (forgive me for even making such a binary divide) do have sets of criteria for "judging" art that both include technique, and we can loosely define a technique as any form of strategy that is meant to convey specific information. When making a realistic drawing or painting, many of the techniques you listed earlier such as perspective and modeling of depth are completely valid and can be praiseworthy across cultures. Other times, certain techniques are maybe slightly more culturally slanted in their appreciation, as I would hazard a guess that many Chinese ink or watercolor paintings and Japanese woodblock prints hold a "technique" of a balance of information between detailed painted areas, vague areas, and large empty spaces that might read similarly to a musical rhythm with resting periods (and we often don't see this level of detail/emptiness contrast in western art).

The word "postmodernism" has been thrown around this thread for quite some time, but in art one of the biggest implications of postmodernism that hasn't really been talked about here is the removal of "medium specificity" and the consequent blending together of the arts. This blend allowed different art forms to inform one another and allowed for the techniques of one art to be put into another. While often he's linked more with modernism than postmodernism, Pollock's techniques for painting were very kinetic and action-based if not outright performative, something that wasn't in the tool-set of painting techniques very often prior to him. In the wake of postmodernism, many of the famous artists of the 1960s and 1970s began really messing around with borrowing techniques from other art forms and the case has been made that even the boundaries between art and life had been blurred too (and in the 90s, the clear emergence of "social art" can be seen that makes this latter blurring even more obvious). Techniques used to be arguably medium specific, but when medium specificity collapsed a weird fusion of new material was available to be etched with new techniques, both literally as mark-making and more figuratively in terms of applying mental techniques from one art (or one field of life) to another. Writing, theater, painting, performance, sculpture, architecture, etc could be combined and re-articulated into new forms and in the modern art world we now have the term "installation" for works of art that combine objects (paintings, sculptures, furniture, etc) with space (architecture/rooms or other defined or undefined volumes). Within installations, there are still the techniques for making an object that are necessary for the work, but the techniques of how to display the object are very much needed as well. Technique cross-pollination greatly expanded or re-expanded the forms of art making and I think this is a very key point to make when discussing cultural attitudes towards art making.

The early stages of my personal art education was almost entirely based on learning techniques for a specific medium. However, as I moved through undergrad, there was a much greater room for experimentation and for the blending of techniques and mediums to occur. There might be the idea of a "traditional" American college having art programs that allow for a student to focus on one specific medium to learn and master the techniques that belong to it. My undergrad and definitely my current grad school do not follow this build and instead actively promote the cross pollination of the arts and their techniques, and from my understanding it is the current trend for art schools in America to operate more like this and it is rarer to find programs that are entirely medium specific (and those who teach at inter-medium schools tend to scoff at those who go to a single medium program and follow a list of techniques religiously).

At the same time, a school that has single medium classifications within their program also have a very clear and easy to understand structure throughout the education process; if you're a painting student, you learn how to paint and you learn painting techniques and you keep on painting and your education is to get better at painting. These educational goals obviously cannot transfer and remain intact within the inter-medium system and what usually ends up happening is that after teaching basic techniques across a number of media, the educational process shifts to teaching students how to develop artistic "concepts." A concept is sometimes a loose term but generally it means what the work of art is supposed to be about or the processes that are informing its creation. If you really boil it down, the concept is often the work of art minus any physical objects or spaces that eventually will be made; it is the idea that the artist works with to eventually make the work. Now, of course you can easily say that medium-specific artworks have ideas too! (And you'd be correct.) If you're painting a history painting of some sort of event, the event itself is often a huge part of the concept. But why are you painting the event? Say an artist is painting the bombing of Hiroshima; that's the theme but not the concept or the why. The concept in this instance could be an emotional reaction such as grief or anger or it could be an intellectual contemplation such as the analysis of political power. In any case, once an artist is armed with a concept, he/she can then start to engineer how to make their artwork and oftentimes the medium of choice has a connection with the concept itself (and so a single artist making multiple works and each work having a unique concept is often better off having preliminary introductions into the techniques of a wide variety of media rather than mastering one medium so that he/she can pick different materials the fit a concept and be able to work with them).

My personal experience is that my American (or Canadian) classmates are able to work with these concepts and can use them to create a wide array of social, personal, or aesthetic artworks. My personal experience with the recent 2+ weeks with my Chinese collaborators however found that they were more comfortable talking about techniques and were less comfortable talking about concepts (which is similar to my experience with my American friends who went through medium-specific art programs, which makes me think the educational process is an important element beyond just cultural differences, and my Chinese collaborators seem to have claimed that medium-specific programs are the norm in China). To some degree I think part of this just might be a cultural dissonance between some concepts fitting an American audience but not a Chinese audience. I also don't think that my Chinese collaborators were completely devoid of an understanding of concept. But more often than not, the concept-technique relationship seemed inversed in which my American classmates and I would want to start projects with ideas and concepts and figure out techniques later whereas our Chinese collaborators seemed to have a greater connection with using techniques and themes first and coming up with concepts later.

Now, how does this all loop back to "good art/bad art" and "right art/wrong art"? I think that phrases like "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" or "art is subjective and anyone is allowed to like any art they like" have a subtext that recognizes what an "artistic concept" is. We might hear phrases like "well the artist's intent was not to be realistic, so we shouldn't judge his/her painting on realism" but this only then begs the question of what the intent actually was. And in many cases, the intent is also synonymous with the concept. And I think in modern art criticism, there is a multi-step process for evaluation:

Can the viewer identify the concept? (probably the first question that a Westerner versed in arts/criticism would ask, but maybe not the first question people from other cultures or backgrounds would ask)
Is the concept personally relevant/interesting to the viewer?
Are the techniques sufficient / show skill / show "aesthetics"?
Are the techniques aligned with the concept?

Now, these questions each individually allow for individual interpretation or subjectivity, but their collective "rubric" or thought process of arriving at the conclusion is fairly logical. This is to say that though art is subjective and up to the individual's interpretation, it does not mean that evaluation (by the individual) is a useless and illogical pursuit. Art is a form of communication and for the art to communicate its concept and appeal to a viewer shows a successful result to that viewer, and for an artwork not to convey these to one viewer doesn't mean it can't be successful with another.

There's also weird instances where a viewer might really like the techniques or overall aesthetics of an artwork but may dislike the concept (or not be able to identify the concept at all) or when a viewer really likes the concept but dislikes the overall look or composition of techniques. In such cases, these criteria could be used to point of "failings" of an artwork to critique it or justify an opinion.

Anyway sorry for my very long post and sorry if things don't make much sense but I could spend hours trying to say more or to edit more but at some point I just have to stop...

Cresselia~~ I know you started this thread by asking questions and though you've responded to other people's answers I oddly feel like I haven't heard a lot about your personal opinions regarding appropriate judgement (or lack thereof) in art. I'm curious to hear more from you : )
I think mostly, how good an art piece is, is a matter of the amount of skills required to paint/ sculpt that piece, rather than how good it looks.
And that "bad art" is art that has wrong/ mistakes in them-- inaccurate perspective, wrong shading, etc.

As for how good something looks, I do believe that beauty is not purely subjective.
There are standardized things in beauty such as golden ratio, color theory, etc.
(But of course, you may still prefer a painting with your favorite colors)

But to be honest, I know nothing about postmodernism. I don't know what most of the modern art is all about.
(And I'm actually curious.)

The students I teach come to me because they want to draw "properly".
And we start by teaching how to draw semi-perfect circles as a foundation to accuracy.
Once they can draw good enough circles, they'd be taught how to make accurate ratios/ proportions.

Proportions and ratios , perspective, all of these do not necessarily be related to realistic art.
Manga art and cartoon art (to a certain extent) follows these rules too.
The Japanese manga industry is actually very very strict when it comes to proportions and perspective-- to the point where they'd just flat out reject people for not being accurate enough.
There are also rules towards cartoon art like Disney. You can watch Youtube videos of former Disney employees and they'd show you the rules of drawing cartoons.

I think it's a common misconception (to both Asians and Westerners) that Manga and cartoon doesn't have proportions.
That's simply not true.
They do have proper proportions. It's just that the proportions are slightly different from realistic art.
 
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Ok, you said you are curious about postmodernism and as someone who has explicitly defended postmodernism in this thread I kinda feel obliged to respond. Unfortunately my area of expertise is music, and postmodernist music isnt really a thing that people talk about much. In my experience at least.. I think basically because rock and roll kinda beat it to every punch. So I am a little bit out of my area.

Also because its postmodernism its really hard not to just respond with a joke. Like, honestly, I pretty much just use the term postmodernism only when arguing with fans of Jordan Peterson or libertarians.

So on that note, I get to be a NEOMARXIST for a bit.

In the good old days it was easy to tell how much better than you people are because better people will have more ability to afford better art and musical training and whatever else. But when the pesky middle-classes started to get wealthy, the aristocrats need ways to distinguish themselves from the people who really ought to be poor, but have the effrontery to have more money than the people who ought to be rich. So instead art becomes more and more unapproachable to the uninitiated, so that if you have to work for a living it becomes impossible for you to learn enough about the latest trends in chaise longues that you can decorate your sitting room without letting on that you dont really deserve to be living in the particular street that you just moved into. So then the goal of unapproachability kinda snowballed and we ended up with modernism.

But the point is that modernism tried to shake off preconceptions of what art is, but only did so by changing the art, and not actually challenging all the other nonsense that surrounds it. Modernism challenges artistic taste, whereas postmodernism is about saying "taste is for capitalist pig dogs so come check out my awesome spirographs".

Which I guess leaves me having defined Post-Modernism by what it isnt. Which is kinda what postmodernism is. Its not really a genre or a style, its more like a rejection of letting anyone ever telling you that something isnt real art. Of course I still tell people that, because sometimes its just fun to do.
 

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