Section 2: Art All Over

Section 1 should have given you some vocabulary and ideas to begin thinking about and talking about art.

You can now begin to discuss what you’re looking at, what it means, and – if you know it – the background of a work of art.  Learning to look is a skill, like any other.

Because I’m a painter, and museums are full paintings, we’ve primarily focused on painting  – but there is art all over.  Books, buildings, clothes, gardens, photos, jewelry, cars, dance, plays, food, pottery, metal work, textiles, wood work – the list of what people make meaningful and beautiful is almost endless.

It would take a lifetime or two to explore it all, but we only have about a month, so we’ll look at two uncommon arts (and artists) and one very common – maybe the most common – art:  movies.

Some questions to think about as we go over this section:

  • Is what I’m showing you art?
  • Could you argue that everything is art?
  • Then what makes something art?   What qualities separate it from the every day?
  • Does feeling have to be involved?
  • Does it have to be beautiful?
  • Does it have to be meaningful?
  • Does it have to be intriguing?
  • Is what we like completely relative, or are there standards that need to be met?
  • Are there different levels of art?  Is some more important than others?  Is none of it important?  After all, what real good is it?
  • Can art lose its importance over time?  Does it need to be renewed each generation or are there basic human ideas, needs, feelings that art always picks up on?
  • Why are our opinions often so different?  What goes into our opinions?  Can they change?
  • Why do people go to so much trouble to make art?  Buy it? Show it? Argue about it?
  • Are artists different?  If so, what qualities do they possess?  Is it just that they have more or less of something, or are they completely different?
  • Is everyone an artist in some way, however small?
  • What is style?  Why is it important?  Why does it change?  Do we change first, or does the style? What does it reflect?
  • What if there were no art – every car, every dress, every house, every hairstyle just did what it was designed to do?  That’s how it works it nature – so what’s with us?
  • Just for fun, here is a clip from The Colbert Report.   What changes the work from a silly photo to serious art?  Do you agree with Steve Martin’s judgment?