I have been thinking alot about art recently. For a lot of reasons.
I know that I’ve talked/blogged about this before, but what is art? I actually looked up the word “ART” in the Websters, but no definition (there were 20) really satisfied me.
I have been working on a theatre piece about Ezra Pound. Pound had lots of very specific theories about good and bad art, art for the people, truth through art. He called bad art “immoral.”
My question is, how do you define “bad art?” By art I mean poetry, paintings, music, theatre, dance.
We were working on a Shakespearean piece for the Living Museum Company and one of the actors and the director got into a discussion about our portrayal of the Balcony Scene for R&J. The actor wanted to make sure that the 6th, 7th, and 8th graders heard every word. The director wanted the scene to elicit a response, even if they didn’t hear every word. (In truth when you put two people in a love scene infront of tweens there will be a response – maybe not the one you’d expect from adults, but it will effect them). Who is right? My inclination, even with a very deep respect for Shakespeare and his writing, is that the response (Director) is more important then the perfection/”good art” (Actor).
In graduate school I took a course in music criticism. The point of the course that stuck with me is, when someone is recreating something else (an actor playing a role, a speaker reading a poem, a musician playing a piece) who is the artist? The originator or the protrayer? What if one is “good” and one is “bad”?
Maybe in visual art it is more clearcut. Reproductions of paintings, photographs, sculpture generally are considered study – not for show necessarily. But still, does a painting provide the truth that the artist needed to express? If it does this successfully (and the artist is the only one who can know this) is it “good”? And if the artist is the only one who can judge, how can anyone else qualify something as good or bad?
Do we perhaps judge art based on the response it elicits within our selves? Our personal experience? I could certainly do without ever seeing another production of “Fiddler on the Roof”, but this classical American musical is considered by many a brilliant artistic piece. I recognize it as “good art”, but I still don’t like it, for personal reasons.
I recently had a conversation with a painter who was bursting to get his work out of his body, his brain. But there was also a sense of desperation for it to be good. (No, he didn’t say this, just my sense of it). I’ve never seen his work, but my thoughts were simply, if he believed in what he was saying that would be enough.
Funny, that is also basic acting technique: Believe in what you’re saying.
Philosophy of art will continue to swirl around my brain. More of this “stream of consciousness” to come I’m sure.