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What is the difference between art and great art?

I think art can be divided into two categories. That in which the creation serves the creator, and that in which the creator serves the creation. Let me explain: Most artists are trying to express their feelings, ideas and views in their chosen media. That's fine, but since most of us have the same general feelings, then most art is similar. There is little originality or distinction between pieces. Maybe an art expert can tell the difference, but I doubt the general public can. When your art is serving you, you'll never come up with anything "bigger" than yourself. On the other hand, when your art serves the creation, then there is no limit to what may be expressed. When the "creation" takes over your hands and mind, when you're expressing eternal truths and objects outside yourself, then you're on the track to making great art. Compare Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel to someone who's throwing a bucket of paint in a stream of jet plane exhaust to make a splotch on a canvas, and you'll see what I mean. Nothing wrong with self-expression; I'm not proposing any kind of ban or censorship on these works. I just probably won't go to a museum to see them, and sure as hell won't pay $50,000 to have one hanging on my wall.

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    Apr 3 2012: maybe my profile is just a picture on a wall and it is either acknoledged or doesnt exist
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    Apr 3 2012: There is no accounting for taste. Art is either subjectively relative or relatively subjective, and it is always irrational. One personal opinion turns a thing into art. The difference between art and great art is one personal opinion.
    • Apr 4 2012: Yeah, I agree personal opinion plays a great part in what we want hanging on our walls. The issue here, though, I feel, is for the artist / creator himself / herself: how do you know when you've made great art? Is your work an expression of yourself, or is it an expression of something outside and possibly higher than yourself; beauty, life, the wonders of the Cosmos? As a writer, there have been precious few times in my writing when my fingers flew over the keyboard, and when the paragraph came to an end, I went back and read it over and over, and can still go back to it and read with wonder. I like to believe that particular patch of writing came from somewhere "outside" of me, and I, and my readers, were made better for it.
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    Apr 3 2012: I have viewed art in musems, galleries, in books, and on line. Some I liked and some I did not like. I do not understand modered impressionists .. just not my thing. But I know people who do. Someone may pay millions for a art piece that I would not have on my wall. I would consider great artists as those who have achieved appreciation over time. Having said that, the artist may not be great to me personally. My son paints and people say he captured the essence, it has life, that his soul lives in the work. I paint and someone says is that a tree? It was actually a painting of my dog. We each define greatness differently. So here is the deal I will take pleasure where I find it and rejoyce in your happiness in your choices. Long live the difference. For all of you who expressed a hate for money ... I will provide a address to send your money and relieve you of that pain. The least I can do for my fellow man. All the best. Bob.
    • Apr 3 2012: No quibbles, Bob; art is ultimately an individual thing, and freedom of personal taste is vital to the human spirit. However, for someone endeavoring to be an artist, I think the idea of having the creation take over the creator rather than serving the creator is the ultimate experience. We have to admit that there are things in the Cosmos that are bigger than us, and when we transcend our limited boundaries and connect with the infinite and express it, the experience can knock us on our butts.
  • Apr 2 2012: In a way, Nino, I see what you're saying; sometimes it takes a large cultural background to understand great art. Michelangelo's "Pieta" would be incomprehensible to an alien from outer space, for example. But, if we label everything we can't understand as "great art", we run the risk of having people just throw junk together, call it "art", charge $50,000 for it, and overwhelming the efforts of truly talented people who have something to say. In counterfeit money, it's said bad money drives out the good. I think the same is true with art; bad art, I think, is currently driving out the good in our world. Just my opinion; I'm not an artist, per se.
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    Apr 2 2012: in my opinion great art is that when everybody dont understand it, great art is like homeless. because understanding him is very difficult.
  • Apr 2 2012: Allan; yeah, money taints virtually every aspect of our society. My dad was an artist; representational oil paints with a palette knife. His great frustration was that he couldn't provide for his family from art sales alone, but he did enjoy teaching it, and he painted a lot just because he had to; something in him drove him to express what he felt was beauty or good design. One wonders, if the hope of making a sale could have been removed from him, and if he could have painted just for the sheer joy of expression, what works might he have produced? Will the need for making a living always be a factor in his art? (I know he occasionally tried "modern" simply because that was what he felt the public wanted. His "modern" paintings languish now in my garage.)

    Heather: love your definition about hair standing up. I've seen a few works that have done that to me. Beethoven's 5th piano concerto. The "Ave Maria" . . . and I'm not Catholic! Michelangelo's "Pieta".

    Thanks all for your comments. I hope this will be a profitable (not money!) exercise for all of us.
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    Apr 1 2012: 'Art' that overtly seeks monetary returns, status, or affirmations of reputation of artist and/or buyer, has little value in my opinion.

    If art can elicit something in me that appears to be greater than the sum of its painted or sculpted parts, then to me, it has very high value. I need to be emotionally and spiritually moved by art in order to appreciate it. (similarly with music).

    A blind assemblage of tired old junk masquerading pretentiously as something deep and meaningful does nothing at all for me, except perhaps as a mild comedic diversion.
  • Apr 1 2012: I think great art has to do with truth expression.
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    Apr 1 2012: Great art makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck.