13 October 2005

High art, Low art, and Not art

This is one of my all time favorite Calvin and Hobbes cartoons. It was originally published on 20 July 1993--a good 30 years after the whole high/low thing really got cooking during the Pop art movement. Here's a thought I've had about the whole "is it art?" question.

Sometimes it is a question of whether a thing is fine art or something else (design, folk art, craft) and sometimes it is a question of being art or just being nothing. In other words, there are examples of many thing that are not typically considered art that really seem to qualify. These things might be created as something else, as fashion, as handicraft, as decoration and so on, yet they function well in the capacity of art. Or maybe they are created as art, yet remind the viewer powerfully of design or craft. Quite apart from this are those things created as art that don't really function as anything else . . . and I think these are two different questions. "Is it art or is it something else?" and "Is it art, or just nothing at all?" are the two questions that relate to the following works.

This is a picture of Warhol's Brillo Boxes, Corn Flakes Boxes, etc. from 1964. If this isn't art, it's plagiarized, "reappropriated" graphic design.

This is Carl Andre's 1966 piece called Equivalent VIII. If this isn't art, its a pile of bricks.

I see a big difference between these two pieces and the boundaries of art they address. Sometimes there is something else for "art" to be, and sometimes there isn't.

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