The value and definition of Art is something that I have written about a few times over the past several weeks. When I look at a work of art I feel that a determination of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ art CAN be made through evaluating several aspects of the piece.
First, in my own way of defining art, in order to be considered a work of art there must be a conceptual theory behind the work, as well as an intention to elicit an emotional or intellectual response from the viewer. If those criteria are met, then a valuation can be made based on the overall aesthetic of the piece, the technical methods of execution, and how the underlying conceptual theory is being communicated to the viewer.
I believe that the valuation is a universal and trans-historical determination. To a certain extent, when looking at the strength in which the piece communicates the artist’s concept, aspects of the culture, society, and history will be applicable in the analysis. Overall, it’s the formal aspects of the piece that play the largest role in determining value.
Additionally, I don’t believe that the value determination changes based on the culture and context that the work was developed in or being evaluated in. However, I think that the value determination is subjective based on the ideas, theories, culture, and background of the evaluator. I could look at a piece and determine that it is great, and another person could look at the same aspects of the piece that I looked at and determine that it is bad. And, that’s ok. Ultimately, every work of art will appeal to some, and not to others.
In my own work this is very evident. I have worked as a graphic designer for the past 15 years, and every client and colleague of mine has their own opinions as to what is good design. Sometimes those opinions differ from my own opinion… It’s all subjective. For my own professional work, I have gotten used to that, and in my studio I teach this to my staff. I know when I am working on a design that I get to a point where my vision for the piece has been met and I call the work ‘done.’ At that moment, before critique and changes, the work is in its purest form, the way that I as the artist saw that it should be. In the end, 99% of clients will ask for changes to the work to have input in the piece, which creates a sense of ownership for them. The end result is a collaboration between designer and client, and the best work happens when a designer understands this and knows how to ‘sell’ their work to the client. There’s a bit of psychology that plays into that… a designer has to learn what the client wants to hear and then present the work that way. It’s a game without rules and they don’t teach you how to play it in school. Good design is not just the creative work done on the computer, but also the client work done in the boardroom.