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    Default Straw Poll: Is there an objective difference between good art and bad art?

    As the title says - is there an objective difference between good art and bad art? Or to put it in concrete terms, is there something that makes the Mona Lisa good art and random scribblings bad art? Brief explanations helpful but not required.
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    Default Re: Straw Poll: Is there an objective difference between good art and bad art?

    Yes because while art is somewhat subjective there is objectivity in pretty much everything. That objectivity can change however because of factors such as culture thus pinning it down in any concrete fashion is probably difficult.

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    Default Re: Straw Poll: Is there an objective difference between good art and bad art?

    IMO, good art has the effect the artist wanted it to have. Bad art does not. This is a separate question to whether or not the art is pleasing, which is inherently subjective.

    Which raises the question of whether something can be art if it was created without intent. Of course, creating something to ask that is paradoxical.
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    Default Re: Straw Poll: Is there an objective difference between good art and bad art?

    No because you can't even get an objective definition of the criteria.
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    Default Re: Straw Poll: Is there an objective difference between good art and bad art?

    Quote Originally Posted by Siosilvar View Post
    IMO, good art has the effect the artist wanted it to have. Bad art does not. This is a separate question to whether or not the art is pleasing, which is inherently subjective.
    This is pretty much it. In art criticism, personal taste is (or should be, anyway) completely irrelevant and it's all about judging whether the artist's goals were met successfully or not. There is very little judgment of whether or not the goals themselves are "good."

    A Pollock is judged by much different criteria than a Monet or a Mondrian or indeed Leonardo's Mona Lisa.
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    Default Re: Straw Poll: Is there an objective difference between good art and bad art?

    Good to see you, Warkitty. Great question, if I understand it correctly: you're asking where people fall between aesthetic objectivism and aesthetic subjectivism, right? Probing their intuitions, as it were.

    My first intuition is to say that I don't know, since I've never studied the field of aesthetics before.

    My second intuition is to suggest that very few respondents will have studied aesthetics before, either, and so very few will have a rational basis for their answer - but if you're looking for intuitions anyway, that's perfect.

    Anyway, I look forward to the arguments ahead.

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    Default Re: Straw Poll: Is there an objective difference between good art and bad art?

    Quote Originally Posted by Siosilvar View Post
    IMO, good art has the effect the artist wanted it to have. Bad art does not. This is a separate question to whether or not the art is pleasing, which is inherently subjective.

    Which raises the question of whether something can be art if it was created without intent. Of course, creating something to ask that is paradoxical.
    My question here is what sort of intent are we looking at when we ask what sort of effect the artist wants us to have. For example, it seems one could create a picture for no more reason than to create a pretty picture. One could even create a picture that was never designed to be seen by anyone other than the artist. In that case, how can we judge what effect the artist wants the art to have?
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    Default Re: Straw Poll: Is there an objective difference between good art and bad art?

    Quote Originally Posted by WarKitty View Post
    My question here is what sort of intent are we looking at when we ask what sort of effect the artist wants us to have. For example, it seems one could create a picture for no more reason than to create a pretty picture. One could even create a picture that was never designed to be seen by anyone other than the artist. In that case, how can we judge what effect the artist wants the art to have?
    "Pretty" implies intent. Even something as mundane as documentation qualifies. Wedding pictures, for instance.

    But... if we don't know the artist's intent, all we can do is infer. I intentionally did not give a solid answer to your question for this reason (though I implied a "yes"). Occasionally the difference is undecidable.
    Last edited by Siosilvar; 2016-01-08 at 05:39 PM.
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    Default Re: Straw Poll: Is there an objective difference between good art and bad art?

    It depends entirely what you mean by "Good". Do you mean, as Sio says, that it has the intended effect? Do you mean that it looks good? That it shows technical skill? That it's realistic, or verisimilar? Is it bad if it has its intended effect but that effect is a negative one? "Good" is too nebulous a term for a straight answer.
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    Default Re: Straw Poll: Is there an objective difference between good art and bad art?

    I mostly agree with Siosilvar, though I judge good and bad as 'society functions if everyone does this' and 'society does not function if everyone does this', which doesn't really apply here.
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    Default Re: Straw Poll: Is there an objective difference between good art and bad art?

    Since you can probably point out actual, existing elements in any given work, you may very well say there is an objective difference between things you consider good and things you consider bad.
    If you can make a set of criteria for 'good' and 'bad' that don't overlap and consistently work for differentiating works you consider good/bad, you can pat yourself on your back.

    If you are looking for a set of criteria that are universal to humans, good luck. There will probably be some overlap from one person to the next but I doubt you can find anything universal.

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    Default Re: Straw Poll: Is there an objective difference between good art and bad art?

    Quote Originally Posted by Flickerdart View Post
    A Pollock is judged by much different criteria than a Monet or a Mondrian or indeed Leonardo's Mona Lisa.
    Yeah, but that's mostly because a Pollock is not art.

    For me, art is readily identifiable as art by most people. Whether they like or dislike, they recognize as art. For instance, most things by Andy Warhol I hate, but I do not deny they are art. Jackson Pollock's work, however, is not recognizable as art without being told it is art. It is as noise is to music, in paint form.

    And yes, i have rather strong opinions about modernistic "music" as well, which hinges on the same crux of "readily identifiable by the average person as X."
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    Default Re: Straw Poll: Is there an objective difference between good art and bad art?

    Well, on the one hand, there are some things with are objectively true, false, better, or worse than other equivalent things. There is a way to draw something so that it resembles a human head, and a way to draw something so that it doesn't. Colors like red, yellow, and blue contrast strongly against each other, while multiple similar shades of grey will blend together. These are fairly objective statements, and if they point is to make a particular section of a painting stand out, then painting it in similar shades as the background is obviously a poor choice.

    On the other hand, there is a subjective aspect of art as well. Just because a background detail is painted similar to nearby objects is not necessarily a poor decision - perhaps it was a choice to have it blend into the background. Not all drawings of human heads are intended to have an appearance or shape similar to one. Sometimes, the subjective aspect isn't directly tied to the piece at all: historical or contextual matters can have a subjective aspect more important than objective parts. I'm fairly certain that there are structures of greater aesthetic appeal and artistic merit than the Statue of Liberty, but because it is the Statue of Liberty, it has a subjective appeal outside the context of its artistic merit.


    Consider the case of, say, pottery recovered from some ancient Greek dig site. The pottery certainly has an objective appeal (comparing ancient Greek claywork with modern techniques) and it has subjective appeal (historical context). Even if it had no value compared to some modern work it could still possess its historical context, and even if its historical context became irrelevant it could still serve as an objective comparison to other works.
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    Default Re: Straw Poll: Is there an objective difference between good art and bad art?

    I think the only thing that can be objectively measured in a work of art is the skill level of the artist. Whether it looks good is pure opinion. There's plenty of art out there that I find creepy or even ugly, and so not to my taste, but I can't deny the skill put into it. I've also seen art that required little or no technical skill from the artist. An example I recall from working in my university's art gallery was simply a label on a wall which we, the gallery, put in place on instructions from the artist. So that required almost zero work from him. I found I could not respect that.
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    Default Re: Straw Poll: Is there an objective difference between good art and bad art?

    After thinking about this for a while and coming up to several answers that were largely unsatisfactory, I think that my best opinion on it is this. Good art is art that the artist is satisfied with. If an artist can't take some measure of satisfaction in their own accomplishment, then it's not good enough. From a societal standpoint, there is great art, art that inspires discussion and imitation, that becomes part of our cultural histories for any number of reasons as we try to reverse engineer authorial intent and find our own meanings in what we see (and for the purposes of non-static or non-visual forms of art, hear and experience) much in the way that old philosophy is taught to inspire more generations into critical thought.

    But that is where I consider pieces of art a subjective, if entirely necessary, medium of thought. As an answer to "is there objectively good art" I have to stick by my first. It's good if it satisfies its creator. Or in the case of commissioned works, you could say they're good if they fulfill the purpose for which they were commissioned, whether that's satisfying the patron or doing something for them, perhaps commercially. *shrugs*

    In any case, thanks for the question! I had fun mulling it over.
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    Default Re: Straw Poll: Is there an objective difference between good art and bad art?

    Quote Originally Posted by Slii Arhem View Post
    After thinking about this for a while and coming up to several answers that were largely unsatisfactory, I think that my best opinion on it is this. Good art is art that the artist is satisfied with.
    But doesn't that imply that the random scrawl of a five-year-old is objectively good art if said five-year-old is satisfied with it?

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    Default Re: Straw Poll: Is there an objective difference between good art and bad art?

    Quote Originally Posted by Peelee View Post
    Yeah, but that's mostly because a Pollock is not art.

    For me, art is readily identifiable as art by most people. Whether they like or dislike, they recognize as art. For instance, most things by Andy Warhol I hate, but I do not deny they are art. Jackson Pollock's work, however, is not recognizable as art without being told it is art. It is as noise is to music, in paint form.

    And yes, i have rather strong opinions about modernistic "music" as well, which hinges on the same crux of "readily identifiable by the average person as X."
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    Default Re: Straw Poll: Is there an objective difference between good art and bad art?

    I will throw in an element of time spent – both in the artist’s developing their skills and time spent on the piece. I appreciate a picture more where the artist spent hours creating it than a 10 minute sketch. Now a 10 minute sketch by Rembrandt, for example, would qualify as better art than a 10-hour painting by me but he spent many, many more hours perfecting his talents. I would still more readily term his paintings good art as opposed to any of his sketches. The same goes for musicians which is why aspiring professionals practice, practice, practice. Time spent creating art is objective and quantifiable.

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    Default Re: Straw Poll: Is there an objective difference between good art and bad art?

    I do think that there's such a thing as objective difference between good and bad art, but clarifying that is difficult since it's hard to define such an abstract concept. I tend to use a two part test.

    First, a good rule of thumb to cut through the subjectivity is if you have to ask "What does this represent?", "what does this depict?", or "what does this mean?" because it isn't self-evident, what you are evaluating is not art, it's a Rorschach Test masquerading as art. This has unfortunate ramifications for abstract impressionists and modern artists, since their work can be pleasant in places, but I consider the friendly fire acceptable if it keeps art galleries from accepting literal Rubbish, urine, and feces as "art".

    Since that by itself isn't enough, a good primary barometer of good vs bad art is Technique. Technique can be objectively measured independent of stylistic preferences, and it is something that's fairly easy to measure since we have all sorts of things to quantify it- The Golden ratio, color theory, light balance, sense of motion, blending, animation weighting, etc.

    Combine the two and you arrive at a reasonably good means to evaluate good from bad art.

    Quote Originally Posted by factotum View Post
    But doesn't that imply that the random scrawl of a five-year-old is objectively good art if said five-year-old is satisfied with it?
    It also overlooks that the vast majority of artists see only their mistakes, which makes it hard for them to be satisfied with their art. By that barometer, only five year olds create art!
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    Default Re: Straw Poll: Is there an objective difference between good art and bad art?

    I don't think there's an objective difference between good and bad art, since art is so subjective to begin with. While there are some works that are more or less universally perceived as good art (and in some cases I believe that this also has to do with how we're trained to find them good), there are many others that some perceive as good and others as horrible, depending on what each person subjectively sees / feels / understands when exposed to them. Possibly art can also be art regardless of the author's intention (as in, someone designs a trash can, I see it on the street and am so impressed by it that I consider it to be art), so it's not only difficult to objectively distinguish between good art and bad art, but also between art and not art.

    So yeah, I think art's quality is in the eye of the viewer. We could try to say that a work is 'better' if it manages to make a lot of people find it good, but that's quite tricky, not very objective, and also fails to take into consideration the 'novelty' factor that is often associated with good modern art... This is a difficult question xD

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    Default Re: Straw Poll: Is there an objective difference between good art and bad art?

    Good art communicates on its own, bad art has to be explained.
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    Default Re: Straw Poll: Is there an objective difference between good art and bad art?

    Quote Originally Posted by Norren View Post
    Since that by itself isn't enough, a good primary barometer of good vs bad art is Technique. Technique can be objectively measured independent of stylistic preferences, and it is something that's fairly easy to measure since we have all sorts of things to quantify it- The Golden ratio, color theory, light balance, sense of motion, blending, animation weighting, etc.
    Quote Originally Posted by factotum View Post
    But doesn't that imply that the random scrawl of a five-year-old is objectively good art if said five-year-old is satisfied with it?
    A five-year-old is unlikely to have the technical skill to create art skillfully, but I don't consider skill a requirement for "good art". There's a difference between "good" art and "good art".

    Granted, technical skill is usually correlated with "good art", since lacking skill makes it difficult to get anything useful on the canvas/in the frame/etc, but I don't think it's a requirement. I will point to Monet as my example - many of his later paintings are quite unimpressive technically, due to his cataracts, but are still good art. Conversely, most portraits (Mona Lisa included) are often very skillful... but don't do a thing for me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kalmageddon View Post
    Good art communicates on its own, bad art has to be explained.
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    Default Re: Straw Poll: Is there an objective difference between good art and bad art?

    Quote Originally Posted by WarKitty View Post
    As the title says - is there an objective difference between good art and bad art? Or to put it in concrete terms, is there something that makes the Mona Lisa good art and random scribblings bad art? Brief explanations helpful but not required.
    Differentiate Art, Expression and Technique. (Terms being translated from german to english here. Exact meaning could be a bit different based on language. Please go by context here.)

    The former is a meaningless term and changes with time and sensibilities of the viewers, that later two you can always qualify and quantify. In essence, that is the main difference between "art" and "craft".

    The "craft" part is a bit disconnected from "art" but plays a major role here. It means that you can work with your tools, have a grasp on colors, know your typography/Photography/whatever, basically know how stuff interacts with the eyes and mind of the viewer, know what "composition" means.

    As a person, I am very indifferent to certain kinds of "art", but I can still rate and value the "craft" behind it, even when I donīt care about it an it doesnīt touch me on any level.

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    Default Re: Straw Poll: Is there an objective difference between good art and bad art?

    Quote Originally Posted by Siosilvar View Post
    Conversely, most portraits (Mona Lisa included) are often very skillful... but don't do a thing for me.
    This is actually easy to explain- portraits usually are intentionally static composition, without any sense of interaction, gesture, or any other motion in general. So what you're seeing is strong on detailing and brushwork, but lacking in other techniques because when drawing a portrait, you typically say "sit right here, like this". (There's very little composition to portraits at all, actually.)

    My art tutor painted a few portraits entirely from imagination to demonstrate how musculature affects the face and they were simply amazing. On one, he captured a mid chuckle motion, and it was like the portrait was alive. The sense of motion was incredible.
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    Default Re: Straw Poll: Is there an objective difference between good art and bad art?

    The trouble is, art is much fashion as anything. We might elevate it to some grand pedestal, but, really, it's fashion. Artists are discovered and rediscovered because of changing whims and desires. El Greco fits modern tastes and can be considered 'before his time', but he certainly wasn't appreciated as a master until literally hundreds of years after his demise. Van Gogh didn't sell a painting in his life, and now his works sell for many millions. Pieter Bruegel the Elder was criticized in his time for painting peasants and now is praised for it. His son was very popular in his day, but he now is considered a kitschy hack.
    I would even disagree with 'IMO, good art has the effect the artist wanted it to have. Bad art does not. This is a separate question to whether or not the art is pleasing, which is inherently subjective.'
    There's examples where some limitation meant things had to be changed and that change is what made the art great. For an example from cinema, Jaws. Originally, the shark was meant to be much more visible, but 'Bruce' didn't work right, so they they were forced to not use it much. And with this loss of their intention came a much more tense movie than they would have made with the shark front and centre. It would probably have been an enjoyable movie, but I doubt it would have held up as well as it does.
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    Default Re: Straw Poll: Is there an objective difference between good art and bad art?

    Quote Originally Posted by Norren View Post
    This is actually easy to explain- portraits usually are intentionally static composition, without any sense of interaction, gesture, or any other motion in general. So what you're seeing is strong on detailing and brushwork, but lacking in other techniques because when drawing a portrait, you typically say "sit right here, like this". (There's very little composition to portraits at all, actually.)

    My art tutor painted a few portraits entirely from imagination to demonstrate how musculature affects the face and they were simply amazing. On one, he captured a mid chuckle motion, and it was like the portrait was alive. The sense of motion was incredible.
    Sorry, I had to break my previous post in mid-thought as Iīm hosting tomorrows session and had to prepare some regional food for the game.

    Letīs put it this way: "Art" is akin to language as it transport information. That can be either "actual" and/or "emotional". "Craft" is akin to the works themselves and their how they managed that. "Poetry" is a good base to work on here if you want to have examples.

    Now DaVinci managed to "tell" us anything about the Mona Lisa, Rubens, Vanmeer and many other managed a similar feet.
    On the other hand, a Munk managed to convey the emotional meaning, "tell" us stuff there, as did a Boys, or any other artist of a modern medium.

    Therefore there is "bad" art, akin to bad poetry, and it mostly means that it canīt transport anything, neither a realistic copy nor an emotion.

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    Default Re: Straw Poll: Is there an objective difference between good art and bad art?

    The definition for good and bad art isn't so solid or easy to figure out that one can then define objective differences between them. It seems a lot of the time one thing or another just falls a little short.

    So, my answer to your poll is neither yes or no.


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    Default Re: Straw Poll: Is there an objective difference between good art and bad art?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kalmageddon View Post
    Good art communicates on its own, bad art has to be explained.
    On this note...

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Straw Poll: Is there an objective difference between good art and bad art?

    There is only one objective measure between good and bad art: the price it can be sold for.

    Even monetary value is subjective to time but at least it gives us a measurement at a specific time.

    Van Gogh's paintings did not change when he died. Yet their value changed enormously. Did it suddenly stop being bad art? Yes, because art has a connection with the viewer. No one liked it while he lived.

    Sadly it also means that many talentless hacks can claim that their art is genius, but our generation is too stupid to recognize it.

    I detest Picasso cubism, but who am I to say what's right when there are millionaires willing to pay so much for them.
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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Straw Poll: Is there an objective difference between good art and bad art?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scarlet Knight View Post
    There is only one objective measure between good and bad art: the price it can be sold for.
    The price an object, whether useful, aesthetic or even just a trade good, isn't the same as its value.

    For example, suppose person A sells something to person B for a price that is higher than the minimum that A would sell it for and lower than the maximum that B would buy it for. Or, A sells something to B, each of them feeling as though they're being ripped off but unwilling to look for a buyer/seller elsewhere, or A sells something to B but B is only buying it because she thinks she can sell it on for more, but is wrong. In all of these situations, the price that the item was sold for isn't what it's worth to A, isn't what it's worth to B, and isn't what it's worth to anyone else either.

    Plus the value something sells for is entirely people-based anyway, so I would rule that as being effectively subjective.
    Last edited by Jormengand; 2016-01-09 at 05:14 PM.
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