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Evaulating Art

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Evaluating Art
Casandra Concepcion
AIU Online
Art Appreciation
Professor Kimberly Musial
April 29, 2012

Defining art is up to the interpretation of the writer and of the reader. Art in itself is also left up to interpretation, of the artist and of those viewing the work of art. There are many varieties of art, and all still have their own abilities to be changed and redesigned based on the artist. Viewing examples of art definitions along with review of several art varieties show the versatility that is the world of art.

Evaluating Art
In order to properly evaluate and understand art, one must start by understanding the definition of art. As different people see all works of art differently, so is the definition. That said, finding two definitions of art that makes sense to the writer would then allow further exploration of the eight types of art: painting, sculpture, architecture, photography, printmaking, conceptual art, installation art, and performance art. Appling the definitions to these eight types of art will allow for an evaluation of art in its many forms.
Art Defined According to Adajian, Plato defined art as “representational, or mimetic (sometimes translated as “imitative” (Traditional Definitions, para. 2). This implies that Plato believed all art was a representation of reality. This leads one to believe, that any work of art they are seeing was based on an object that once existed. This definition is considered a traditional definition of art and shows a limited interpretation of art and where artists manifest their artwork, if it is true that all art is representational or what already exists. A more broad sense of the word art is defined as anything that can be produced with human skill, imagination, or invention (art, 2010). This allows for a conceptual idea that anything imaginable by a human that they can produce for another to see, is art. This extends to include music and drama, which to many would not generally be considered forms of art. This also allows for a far greater creativity as to what is considered art and does not limit art to be defined by that which already exists.

Retrieved from (Van Gogh Gallery, n.d.)
(The Potatoe Eaters, 1885; Oil on canvas; Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam)

This painting was an early work done by Van Gogh in painting, in which he attempted to paint human figures that existed naturally and did not appear awkward (Van Gogh Gallery, n.d.). This painting was oil on canvas, in which Van Gogh captured the mixed emotions of the individuals as they sat around in a rather dark and desolate room eating potatoes. The fine details included in the painting create a realistic atmosphere, almost making the room a subject as well as the people he wished to portray. The desire to portray a realistic image, including the faint light of an oil lamp, follows the definition by Plato, as this painting represents reality.

Retrieved from (Michelangelo Gallery, n.d.)
(Michelangelo, Pieta, 1497-1500, St Peter's Basilica, Vatican, Rome) This sculpture by Michelangelo is depicting the Mary holding Jesus body after being removed from the cross (Michelangelo Gallery, n.d.). His creation of this event is spectacular in his ability to show a full-grown man being held by a woman, as she is completely covered in her clothing. Her face is so calm and serene given the situation and the fact that she is now cradling the body of her child, and the son of God. This sculpture has pieces of both definitions of art. As this is based on a historical event, it is not an event that was necessarily witnessed or described by others. Michelangelo has actually taken his interpretation of events in creating this sculpture, so the realism is there, but it is also left to his skill to make the final masterpiece.
Retrieved from (Great Buildings, n.d.)
(Vladimir G. Schuchov, Adziogol Lighthouse, 1911, Chersson, Ukraine) This is an example of architecture that is used to help ensure the safety of those on the water. This iron hyperboloid framework creates a fascinating lighthouse that can be seen for miles. The graceful structure serves a purpose and supports the local people. Most lighthouses are a solid structure and the use of the open support shows the use of imagination by the creator. This is an example of realism and imagination at work.
Retrieved from (Tripwire Magazine, 2011)
(Murray Becker, Hindenburg, 1937) This was a moment in time that was captured by Murray Becker. The Hindenburg disaster is one of the greatest known tragedies this is still talked about today. Thanks to the skill and abilities of Murray Becker, the final moments of the Hindenburg were forever frozen in photos. The collection of photos is a series of 15 photos that started from the first flare up to the rescue of the survivors (Tripwire Magazine, 2011). His ability to remain professional to capture this tragic event has allowed millions to experience the disaster first hand. As all photography is that of an actual event, Plato would be accurate in this being a recreation of reality. Unfortunately, reality is not always pleasant as these photos display.
Conceptual Art Retrieved from (Terminartors)
(Jacqueline Fraser; 2010; Conceptual Art-Body-Collage; New Museum, New York, NY) This is a color metallic photo of a woman’s body. The use of the mirror and the interpretation of the artist is intriguing. As conceptual art is a way of reflection rather than appearance, it is up to the individual to decide what the artist is trying to say. This is most certainly art based upon reality.
Installation Art Retrieved from (Studio International)
(Joseph Beuys; 1977; Honey Pump at the Workplace; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark. © DACS 2009.) Installation art is when an artist uses a room or large space in which to create their artistic design. This is an interesting example of a honey pump not yet assembled. It is an intriguing work of art and to some could be considered an erratic placement of equipment. Although this resembles reality, it most certainly was obtained by the imagination of the artist.
Performance Art Retrieved from (Perrotin)
(Mariko Mori; “Play with me”; 1994; courtesy of Galerie Perrotin, Paris) Performance art is a unique side of art where an artist uses either themselves or others to depict art in real life. The artist used the idea of cyborg phantasies from Japanese animes and traditional female roles (Volkart, n.d.). Mariko created several examples of performance art along this idea to create an entire series of photographs detailing her performance art. This is most certainly an example of an individual’s imagination and creativity to transform fiction into art.
Art is by far one of the most complex aspects of human’s lives. Defining art is an art in itself and it still subjected to that of the author. The varieties of art present are as broad spectrum as the definitions. Art is a unique opportunity for the artists and those who view the art to make their own interpretation of what is truly being depicted.

Adajian, Thomas. (2007). The Definition of Art. The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy (Fall 2008 Edition). Edward N. Zalta (ed.). Retrieved from art. (2010). In The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather guide. Retrieved from
Becker, M. (May 6, 1937). Hindenburg.[Photography]. Lakehurst, N.J. Retrieved from
Beuys, J. (1977). Honey Pump at the Workplace.[Installation Art]. Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark. © DACS 2009.
Colescott, W. (1978). The Last Printmaker. [Printmaking]. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C. Retrieved from
Fraser, J. (2010). Untitled. [Conceptual Art]. New Museum, New York, NY. Retrieved from
Michelangelo. (c. 1497-1500). Pieta. [Sculpture]. St Peter's Basilica, Vatican, Rome. Retrieved from
Mori, Mariko. (1994). “Play with me” [Performance Art]. Courtesy of Galerie Perrotin, Paris. Retrieved from
Schuchov, V. (1911). Adziogol Lighthouse.[Architecture]. Near Chersson, Ukraine. Retrieved from
Van Gogh, V. (1885). The Potatoe Eaters.[Painting]. Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam. Retrieved from
Van Gogh Gallery. (n.d.) Retrieved from
Volkart, Yvonne. (n.d.) Retrieved from

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