What About Art?

Updated: Apr 30

Personal Experience

I think that we've all looked at a painting, sculpture, or even dance, and wondered what is art. Even more importantly, what is not art.

My wife and I visited the Eli and Edyth Broad Art Museum, at Michigan State University, some years ago. We were excited, as when we were dating, we would visit the Detroit Institute of Art regularly. To make a long story short, the photographer who was presenting at the time seemed obsessed with taking photos of his penis. There were hundreds of his photos of his penis throughout the main room. Suffice to say, we have not been back, which isn't fair but I started thinking about whether taking pictures of penis' was actually art, and what is the difference between art and pornography?

Differences Between Art and Pornography

It may not seem like an obvious task. There does exist some important differences. The classic differences supported by academics like Ann Eaton. The most notable difference is that pornography is explicit and objectifies people while art is subjective and relies on opinions from the viewer. You cannot focus on body parts while at the same time contemplating the artistic value of the art.

My own opinion is that this is a great starting point. This also introduces a couple of key points; that art is subjective and should rely on opinions from the viewer. An example would be viewers of pornography typically focus on body parts, while those viewing art will take the whole work into account.

Obviously, there are many gray areas here. Personal experience, the quality of the work and the different elements contained. Generally speaking, we can say that pornography is not art, in the classical sense.

So What is Art?

We have typically looked at art as paintings or drawings of various types. We may have even looked at ceramics and pottery as examples of art. But have you really considered that activities like dancing, singing, architecture and design, are all under this header of art.

Not all examples of these would be considered art. Take for example writing, which is considered and art, however, would you also consider the instructions for your new blender artistic? Probably, not.

The Principles of Art: