Welcome to the Cooper studio, where the question has been posed: What is art?
Is it easier to define what art ISN’T? Perhaps. Actually, probably.
1. Art isn’t the thing you hang on your wall to match your sofa.
2. Art isn’t the thing you hang on your wall because you know your friends will approve
of it, because they all have a copy hanging on their walls.
3. And on that note, art isn’t a copy or reproduction of an original piece of art.
4. Art isn’t something featuring the year’s top five “decorator colors”
5. Art isn’t something made because you think somebody will buy it.
Actually, this is one of those times when I wish I was one of those people who made a file of all the inspirational quotes from great artists of the past and what they’ve said art is. You know they knew because of what they left behind: ART
And THAT makes me think of the time I saw VanGogh’s Starry Night at the Art Institute in Chicago. The place was packed with other people all trying to see the paintings as well. You were supposed to be polite, look at the painting, and move on. Nope. I was rude and I stopped. For a long time I stopped, because the painting required me to look at it for a long time. Art, Starry Night, most definitely is. It makes your eyes not want to leave. It makes you not want to leave.
But realistically, it doesn’t have to be Starry Night, or Luncheon Of The Boating Party, or Young Girl Writing to be art. Feature this: even you or I can make something “art”. But it has to have at least a smidgeon of something that all three of those paintings I just mentioned have---it has to be INTERESTING.
Sure, maybe it matches your sofa and if it’s interesting then you can call it art. It makes your eyes want to look because it’s interesting, not because it matches your sofa.
And maybe it does have five of the year’s top decorator colors, but it’s so interesting that you want to look at it all the time. You walk out of your way to go see it, again, because it's so interesting. Yea! You get to call it art!
Sorry, I can’t stop without one more qualifier: to be interesting, it’s got to be real. And that’s two kinds of real to you. Real as in honest-created-from-the-heart-real. Something must inspire. Yup, that rules out #5 on the list. AND real as in original, not-a-copy, not-a-reproduction. A poster of Starry Night I can leave. Starry Night, the original made me want to stay. And look some more. Now that’s art.