What is Art?

(original drawing, by FBC, “Los Pringaos” graphite and china ink on paper, 30×40 cm, Omnia Caelum Studios Valencia, image protected, All Rights Reserved)

I will begin by telling you what I think art is not?

Raw emotion is not art. I cannot ever get tired of repeating that phrase which I learned in Theatre School at Florida International University way back in time…so a painting must be contrived, created artistically and it must have a reference. Abstract art is not random or intuitive. Good abstract art is very difficult to make because the reference is internal and the results must be external to the artist…

Intuition is not art. A child paints, draws and makes things, cut-outs, collages et cetera, intuitively. A child is not conscious of what he is making or what he is drawing, therefore it is not art. Usually the parents think that whatever the child has made is lovely, and it may well be. I’ve seen drawings and paintings made by wee laddies that were quite interesting. But there was no intention behind them, therefore, lovely, perhaps, but not art…

Paintings made by animals is not art. Animals do not think or reason, therefore they cannot be conscious of creating art, or anything. Animals follow their instincts only. Lately there have been videos and articles about a pig that paints, an elephant that paints and other animals supposedly painting. But is it painting? Did they decide on the palette, the composition, the idea behind the painting? Or did the owner just simply put a brush with paint in their mouths and let them spread it on a canvas and when the owner thought the “painting” was done, took the brush away?

And finally…

Things that can be referred to as objets trouvés are not art. Found objects are not art. They may be well crafted, perhaps even beautiful but they are not art, they were not created as art or as representing ideas or anything else that art is supposed to do. A found object is just that, something that you found. Perhaps a work of art can be crafted from one of these but on their own, they are not art…

Things that everyone can do is not art. Those “artists” that exhibit a half filled (or half empty) glass of water, (Wilfredo Prieto, ARCO Madrid, 2015), Jeff Koons “Balloon Dog”, a banana taped to a wall, (Mauritzio Cattelan, Art Basel Miami Beach, 2019) or a shark inside a tank of formaldehyde, (Damien Hirst, 1991), are not creating art. They are demonstrating how little talent they have and how little imagination. The art world is now dependent on the business of art and rich patrons are sponsoring these so-called “artists” to “create” art like those examples…there are so many more…and then sell them at incredible prices so that their investment in these “artists” keeps gaining through the years. But in truth their work has absolutely no value. The materials used may be costly and those do have a value but artistically there is no value there…

“Art” that needs a manifesto or a tremendously long explanation filled with concepts and philosophical rubbish is most certainly not art. At least if some of these can be categorised as art, it is not good art. Art talks to you by itself, by what is on the canvas on the paper or sculpted. A good work of art needs no explanation…

So…

If art is none of the above, and of course, this is my opinion, not a fact, which you may or not be in agreement with, then what the hell is art?

I leave that up to you to reply…

And I would love to read them…

Please feel free, and encouraged, to comment. I would also appreciate it if you hit that like button and share…

If you would like to see most of my artwork (paintings and drawings), please follow this blog and also my Instagram @Francisco_Bravo_Cabrera

and check out my online Jazz Art gallery at http://www.ArtPal.com/rfbravo1155

THANKS!

66 comments

  1. Anya Abraham · April 9

    Please do not take offence.
    I completely agree with all of your points except one.
    Why do you think raw emotion isn’t art? Doesn’t art stem out of emoting raw feelings? I personally believe that your art really pierces through when it’s naked and raw and everything that the artist felt. I don’t know if i worded that quite right but I’d really like to know more about why you don’t think raw emotions aren’t art.

    • Hello Anya, and believe me, I never take offense, I like to engage in positive discussions…
      “Raw emotion is not art” is a quote from Konstantin Stanislavsky (“My Life in Art”, “Building a Character”) and a concept that is used by actors (mainly) in the theatre. Meaning that although an actor is supposed to feel the emotion that the script and the action demands, it is not raw. If an actor has to react to the death of his child, then he draws upon things, memories in his life that created in him that same grief and then represents them truthfully. But it is not raw, it is controlled, created artistically with the training and the talent of the actor. I like to apply this to painting, music and poetry as well. We craft our work, we re-write, re-paint, touch up, clean up, polish, re-work et cetera, in order to create a work of art that has that emotive power and that can evoke emotions in the viewer or listener, but it is not raw, it is created…
      I hope I was able to reply…and thank you so much! I think that artists should always discuss concepts, new trends and their work. I really appreciate your reply.
      All the best, and my greetings from Spain,
      Francisco

      • Anya Abraham · April 9

        Wow, you really put that so much into perspective for me and now, I completely agree with you. Thank you so much for taking time off to explain that so beautifully.
        Love from India.
        Hope you’re staying safe and healthy ;’)

      • Thank you Anya! I am so glad that you understood…I appreciate your words and also encourage you to continue to converse and to discuss art with all artists. You, as an artist, have thoughts to express as well as all of us…
        Thank you, here in Spain we are getting better, all the best to you and stay safe.
        Francisco

  2. Easymalc · April 9

    This post Francisco really hits home where my thoughts on art are concerned. Firstly, I can honestly say that your image here is exceptional. As you have probaly guessed I’m no artist myself which is why I can’t see the merits in Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons work either. That said, I do have some sympathy with Anya Abraham’s comment about raw feelings. I can only express my feelings through raw feelings because I don’t have the expertise in art that you have, but that doesn’t mean to say that it’s not worth having a go. My feeble attempt at a few words recently about the situation that we find ourselves in (https://www.easymalc.co.uk/coronavirus-spring/ ) was all your fault because you inspire me so much 🙂 Hope you’ve had a good day, and don’t forget to stay safe.

    • I’ll take the blame, Malc, for your beautiful words, which were from the heart and quite meaningful and timely. I loved your poem and now even more! I thank you for your reply and I am glad that you agree. I replied to Anya, trying to clarify what I had written reference raw emotion…not to say that art does not contain emotion, it most certainly does and it must evoke emotion as well but raw emotion is a response to a strong stimulus, almost biological that one cannot contain, like the reaction to the sudden death of a loved one, or the reaction to being shot or the despair after searching for a lost child in the store…what you have written is full of emotion and a product of your emotion but channeled and filtered through your thoughts. We are all artists, my friend…stay well and I am now off, officially and ready for me glass of red wine,
      Cheers!
      Francisco

      • Easymalc · April 9

        Even your reply is eloquent Francisco. Thank you. Enjoy your glass of red. Salud

  3. Blanca · April 9

    I think it’s extreemely difficult to draw a line that separates what is art and what is not. There are lots of perspectives, opinions and points of view to take into consideration. In my opinion, from prehistoric paintings up to most extravagant performances of today can be considered art. I like the idea of art as and extensive and inclusive concept.

    • Hello Blanca and thank you. I agree, there are some performances that are very artistic and well thought out as are some of what are called “happenings” where you know where and how it starts but now how it ends…art is extensive but not all that glitters is gold…great reply and I truly appreciate it

  4. ourcrossings · April 9

    For me art is a very skillful expression and communication of our thoughts and visions and desires. There are times when words aren’t enough to tell the story and that’s where creating paintings and sculptures come in. Your black and white artwork is superb, Francisco 😊

    • Thank you 😊 Aiva, those black & whites are my favourite mode of artistic expression…and I agree with you…good night my friend, getting late here on the continent. All the best 😊

  5. 轻艺术 慢生活 · April 10

    What is Art? equate to What is Love?

  6. Pingback: The Creation of Art – Katy Claire Creative
  7. Katy Claire · April 10

    This was a very thought-provoking write, Francisco. I will have to think more on what art is to me, but you inspired me to write a poem tonight about my thoughts on the creation of art: https://katyfunke.com/2020/04/09/the-creation-of-art/ I enjoyed this one and your art is always incredible!

    • Thank you Katy, I appreciate your reply and I hope you do think more on the subject, although it is seemingly academic it is also a way to promote growth as an artist. To be able to theorise is a part of being an artist and to be able to communicate our thoughts and promote solid, positive discussions is a way to enlarge our artist community and get to know each other better as artists and people. I have read the poem, it is beautiful. You have written very interesting thoughts in a most artistic manner and have added the visuals which were wonderful. You are very talented, and I know that you work hard on your creations. I truly admire your work. Stay well, and all the best,
      Francisco

  8. Brad Osborne · April 10

    Art is when an artist has an emotion, feeling, experience, or thought, and sits with it quietly until they develop an understanding and connection to that thought. Then by necessity they are compelled to verbalize or illustrate that idea to others through their chosen medium. Good art can evoke raw emotions, but it is not born of them. Arranging found items is creative, but not artistic. If the art requires an explanation, it is not truly art. You have posed a very interesting question, and I look forward to reading the responses from your readers. Great post, Francisco! Stay well and safe, my friend!

    • Thank you my friend. I find your thoughts to be very interesting and profound, the connection of emotion, feeling and thought that you have mentioned is something I quite agree with and a great way to explain this question of what is art…I find your reply to be very valuable in our quest for an answer…thank you Brad. And you too, stay safe!

  9. graham mcquade · April 16

    Dont waste your time analysing and catagorising, Francisco – you cant measure art. Just enjoy what you like and intrigues you. That should be enough to occupy your time – well it does for me..

  10. Pingback: What is Art? — Omnia Caelum… Poetry, Art, Music | Los Angeles feedback film festival
  11. Orca Flotta · April 22

    “If I need to explain you wouldn’t understand.”
    I don’t know who said it and it was said in a completely different context (Harley-Davidson motorcycles I guess) but for me it perfectly defines art, of any kind. If it doesn’t speak for itself, if it can’t stand on its own – it ain’t art! If artists are starting to talk about their oeuvre, telling me what I am supposed to feel, I respectfully walk away.
    An art-piece, any piece of art, really, must grab me by my imaginary balls!

    • Very well said! I will definitely quote you in the future because you have said what I believe reference art. Thank you so much for adding to the discussion. This is something very important for artists, to communicate and learn from each other. Take good care 🙂

  12. Michael Newberry · April 26

    Francisco, I enjoyed this post and made me smile! Thank you.

  13. guillergalo · April 30

    Me has puesto a pensar entre los limites donde las percepciones y los símbolos provocan sensaciones, más no el fluir y el sentir de la emoción, emociones que generan pensamientos y conmociones hacia el sentido de vivir o participar de la vida donde uno nos solo, es con otros y como parte de todos, y en si mismo. Quizá por eso comparto ese pensamiento que se niega a apreciar como arte esas instalaciones u objetos facilistas y efímeros. Los pondrá el supuesto artista o el actor para tocarse a si mismo, ¿Dónde está la misión, aquello que conmociona con el arte y descubre ciertas cosas invisibles de la vida o incluso impacta en lo cotidiano porque le pone un sello que lo impacta. ¡Caray! Si que haces pensar.

    • Eso es lo que busco, amigo mío, el propósito del arte, desde mi punto de vista, es comunicar ideas…no sabes cuanto agradezco tus comentarios y tu participación. Espero poder seguir ganándome tus replicas. Un saludo

  14. Pingback: What is Art? – Wilfredo Santa Gomez MD
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  16. Pingback: Bodo Art by FBC and Omnia Caelum Studios Valencia | Omnia Caelum… Poetry, Art, Music
  17. Interesting Ideas!
    Can you please give some suggestions to the arts made by my students! I have dedicated this blog for their art! They will be very happy!
    https://sharingcreativitytoday.wordpress.com/blog-2/

  18. Francina · May 9

    Interesting post, Francisco. Just putting my two pences in for what they are worth.
    Personally I think since art is a result of the creative imagination of the artist, art is not to be defined by rules. Art is also subject to the personal taste of those who look at the artwork and if the viewer can resonate from out her/his own imagination or just like the art work, or artist. In my humble opinion art without passion has no chance to become a masterpiece. Is some art overrated? Of course there will be always the famous in-crowd, the artist groupies. We only have to go to art shows, musea and listen to some of them. No offend intent. Does art only have to please our eyes, I don’t think so, it’s also a good thing that art provokes our mind and way of thinking, looking and are willing to pay for art. That was also the thought behind the banana taped on the wall, if I am not mistaken. If art or artists don’t provoke we might have not the different streaming in art over the ages , nor this discussion.
    There is also the difference between commercial art and non commercial art. Mass production versus an unique piece. Not that long ago I watched a documentary about how art has even become an investment article instead of appreciation for the art itself.
    It is up to the artist to become a crowd pleaser and sacrifice his artistic mind on the way, and of course it is up to us as well to become a crowd follower as well.

    Thank you for sharing, take care!
    Francina

    • Thank you so much Francina. I think you make very valid points and have expressed many truths regarding art. Reference shock value art, I disagree. I think provocation can come in many forms and it is most certainly valuable and necessary, but it must come with a little more work, a little more time and a little more respect for the people, the viewers and society on the whole. I am very glad to read your comments because I think that we all have things to say and it would be wonderful to establish a community of artists that can share their work, their thoughts and their feelings. I really thank you from the bottom of my heart and I look forward to more of your thoughts. I will be starting a series…every Saturday…where I will feature that work of an artist, provide some comment and some of their work as well and it should be a forum for all manner of discussion. I hope you participate. The first edition, today’s, is on a great French artist that died 10 years ago, Louise Bourgeois, I am sure you know her work…
      Cheers and all the best,
      Francisco

  19. Charlace · May 12

    I absolutely agree. Anyone can simply associate a deep meaning with something simple like a banana taped to a wall. Recently people have been creating cheap “art” and selling it on ebay for hundreds of dollars, just for gaining cash alone. It makes you think about how people easily purchase fake art or alternatively consider what real art is. I appreciate this post as it encapsulates the importance in separating real artists and what is considered art.
    Thank you for sharing!
    Charlotte from Australia 🙂

    • Charlotte! Thank you so much! I am so glad you liked the post! I truly appreciate your comments and your participation in this discussion. Take good care and my greetings from Spain,
      Francisco

  20. SO many inspirational words on Art!!
    Here is something you can just have a look and give some advice!
    https://sharingcreativitytoday.wordpress.com/2020/05/17/art-traction-by-denil-gurung/

  21. Aman K Phoenix · May 24

    wow you are such a master.

    • Thank you so much Aman. I just try to learn about some of the things that people do that I like and post them. I am so glad you liked it.
      All the best,
      Francisco

  22. Edgeworth · May 24

    great drawing

  23. I saw an exhibit that featured Damien Hirst. Most of it was absurd but certainly not art. Were the impressionists not artists? Because they went to a lot of effort to explain themselves. The often gathered in cabarets, bars and restaurants to discuss art. The public and the critics didn’t get it hence the Salon des Refusés.

    • Thank you! Art can and should create conversation and dialogue, and throughout art history different movements like the surrealists have published manifestos, the abstract movement did too, but that is all different from so called artists that have to theorise about their work for it to be even considered art. Good point my friend,
      Thank you

  24. fallofgogh · June 6

    You have a distorted idea of Art. We are all born artist, as one of the purest artist Picasso pointed out.

    When a child is placed in front of a blank canvas, given all the colours and a paint brush, the child sees it fit to apply the heart, the love and expression of the world onto the canvas. There is no reasoning, or logical thought but what remains is pure expression.

    Can you give me an account of your reasons for true love? Can you explain why a curve line is more beautiful than a straight one?

    No the child cannot explain why he/she has chosen to paint what he/she has painted. What you have missed is that some things cannot be explained. You do not have to explain why Mozarts symphonies are beautiful to the ear because if you do not feel the beauty you will never understand the explanation. A child does not need to explain to you why their painting is beautiful, if you can not see the beauty you too will be blind of the explanation- regardless of whether they have they do or do not have the words to tell you.

    Do you see?

    • Thank you…but no matter how beautiful or lovely it may be, it is not art. Art does not result from the intuitive efforts of a child. You do not become an artist that way, just as you do not become an engineer because you are able to remove, fix and replace your bicycle tire. Art requires training, it is not for everyone, nor does everyone have the inclination to explore their artistic abilities or artistic innate tendencies. Raw emotion, or anything raw and exclusively human, or a human response, IS NOT ART. Art comes from training, education, research and much work. That is how talent is developed. Talent is not a genetic trait, it is a human quality but one that requires much work to bring forth. You mention that a child does not need to explain his/her painting, well neither does any artist. Do you need an explanation of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? Beauty, is something natural, nature, the sea, the mountains are all beautiful but they are not art. Art does not need to be beautiful, art needs to be subterfuge as Picasso said, and he also said that he did not support the idea that art is for everything as an artist needs to be dedicated to his cause, which is to express ideas. Art is a language. Art is communication. A child may learn to be an artist but art is not intuitive. Thank you for your comment, I hope I have cleared up your confusion.

  25. spyderimage00 · June 17

    Art is in the eyes of the beholder?
    Everyone is on a journey. Like food we go towards some food more than others. We need to measure Art to oneself and except people’s opinion of our doings. What others say about our Art results in the direction we choose to gravitate, effects our journeys course and defines us as humans beings. I’m a middle age man, I’m alive now .. this is my time. So do what you feel is right and let the journey guide your Art.

  26. everythingtips · June 18

    very well written! thanks for sharing👍🏽

  27. janyasmagicalworld · June 29

    Interest perspective, keeps me thinking!

  28. artideascom · July 4

    Thanks .

  29. That Left Handed Artist · July 7

    So eloquantly written! I enjoyed reading this and agree with you. Lovely post!

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