What makes art, ‘art’: a family tour


I create a work of ‘art’ by tipping a box of junk upside-down in an art museum.
If I left it there and came back a day later, do you think it’d still be there?
Why not? Who would have taken it away? No, not the director, nor the curators… but the cleaners! The cleaners must decide whether it looks like it’s MEANT to be there.
So, to be seen as ‘art’, my work needs ‘meantness’.


A frame helps an artwork’s ‘meantness’: it contains it, and acts like a fence separating the special (art) from the ordinary (non-art). A label could also help. But an artwork really needs more, like: arrangement, selection and repetition.


One good way to give a work of art ‘meantness’ is symmetry (even if it’s not exact): the stuff on the left balances the stuff on the right.


Sometimes, to make a painting look energetic, it has to be painted in an energetic way, almost like a dance. Here I’m imagining how the painting “New reality” MIGHT have been painted.
But it’s very likely that the artist had to try a number of times, each time on a fresh board, before getting just the right effect. If that’s true of this painting, then how long did it take for the artist to paint it? A minute? A day? A month?

Posted in Art, Museum education.

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