It Might Be Art, But Art Isn’t Synonymous With Good

In our postmodern age, or post-postmodern age, however you attempt to term the pluralistic secularized times of our age, a word might be considered a poem, and a urinal considered an artwork, but just because it might be a poem doesn’t necessitate it is a good one, and likewise just because a urinal might be articulated as being a sculpture doesn’t mean it is a good artwork. White paint painted onto white canvas might be modern but that doesn’t equate true high-end art if high-end insinuates true goodness in craft, dynamism, and cultural relativity.

During the Abstract Expressionist Movement from the early through late 1900’s the idea of goodness was directly challenged, but actually this began during the Enlightenment of the late 17th century when philosophical influences propagated reason, origins of standards both in art and life, and purpose came from inside the individual instead of coming from outside the self. This idea of individual based purpose coincides in part with the philosophy advocated by Darwinism and the concept of survival of the fittest, but actually predates both Darwinism and the Enlightenment back to the early times of mankind when gods were made by mans hands. Gods that could not, and still cannot, speak, provide, or respond to humans initiations.

The concept of goodness in art is indeed cultural, at least in part, especially if we are saying art is both functional and/or aesthetic. If it is either-or every culture has the same basic criterion for art in this case. Does it meet a need via function? Will it hold together over time? Is it culturally relevant, I.e. serve a tangible purpose? Are the aesthetic qualities being influenced by the standard of beauty, i.e. nature? If so, done, art is made.


by: Kazimir Malevich, 1918, “White On White” 



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