Rebirth of Reason


Who Defines Art?
by Will Heath

So WHO will decide what is art, WHO will decide what is a bonsai?
Are we going to endow or delegate some privileged individuals with that task? Moderators or censors? Or are we have a committee to decide it? Are we going to award degrees or design tests? Universities already award BA in Art degrees.
Or are we going to say "I know art when I see it!" and by extension "I know bonsai when I see one!"

As much as many do not what to hear the truth, I will state it again anyhow. What is or isn't art is decided by those who make such decisions, call them the powers that be, the critics, the journalists, the curators, the gallery owners.....whatever you call them, they decide what is or isn't art. Period.

You may not like this, you may fight against it, you may pull out your hair, gnash your teeth, tear at your clothing, but in the end, this is the truth, it always has been, it always will be.

I have heard the cries that art is in the eyes of the beholder, that it is a personal thing, that one mans art may be another man's garbage, but these dogs don't hunt. One man's opinion means nothing in the world of art, who cares if Phillip the farmer or Joe the plumber doesn't think the Picasso piece shown here is not art? Do you think they will take it down and hide it in shame because of a commoners opinion? Do you think the value will drop because Mary the quilter doesn't get it?

Those that are in the position to decide what is relevant, what is important, what expresses the soul, are the ones who can promote the work and raise it to the level of art.

More important than these people are the big named artists, the great living artists of our time can dictate what direction art follows with there own creations.

Don't like it? So what, that is just the way it is. The common man has no say in the matter.

Awhile back I asked a renowned New York art critic if bonsai was art, linking him to the AoB galleries of Pall, Lenz, Zaoh, and others. Keep in mind that this guy had no past experience with bonsai, but has critiques and wrote about art over the last decade and is well versed in art and art history. Here is what he said....

It is certainly art, clearly one could argue a form of organic sculpture, where the artist shapes and forms a living entity into a particular presentation.

The postmodernists, in their zeal to make everything into art, curiously have a high degree of disdain for a lot of the established forms of art -- such... possibly as this one; tradition is not their forte.

And yet, say a big name in the art world, such as Damien Hirst, suddenly decided that he'd wanted to do a project and exhibition of bonsai sculptures... then suddenly it would be given the artsworld mafia seal of approval and it would become "high art" in an ironic sense.

Hope this helps...

Lenny Campello

So, to make a point, if a major art critic says it is art, if the top bonsaists of our time says its art, if museums are displaying it as art, if it is promoted as art, and if it is accepted as art, then bonsai is an art.

Disagreeing does not change it. Not accepting who decides such things does not change it. Just accept it and move forward.

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