Is there such a thing as "bad" art?

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Do you think art can be "good" or "bad"?

Yes
90
87%
No
14
13%
 
Total votes: 104

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Is there such a thing as "bad" art?

Postby chrispy1 » Sun Jul 15, 2007 10:46 am UTC

Do you think there is "bad" art? I orginally was pondering this concerning paintings/sculptures but let's open it up to all types (music, poetry, etc.)
If the point of art is to invoke an emotion or to get a point across, by causing you to absolutely hate the picture/song/etc., has the artist not accomplished their task? You're talking about it, you have an opinion on it. I cannot stand certain pieces of art, or certain poets; however, when I get into debates with friends of mine that do like them, or discussions with friends that also dislike them, I think we're doing exactly what was intended. "Bad" is not a term I think can be used; "I don't like it", "I disagree with that message", etc., all perfectly legitimate, IMO. But I think to say "that painting sucks/is bad/etc." does not put the accountability on your feelings but rather "blames" the artist for doing a "shoddy job".
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Postby darry » Sun Jul 15, 2007 11:16 am UTC

i think it's ok to express your opinion in that way, as long as you accept that it's a subjective view and not a universal truth. having said that, it's a bit unfair to label someone a bad artist, no matter how rubbish you think they are. having said that, i think it's something that a lot of us do very often. hmm.
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Postby crazyjimbo » Sun Jul 15, 2007 11:52 am UTC

If I shat on a bit of paper and called it art, that would be *bad* art. When artists first start out, their art is often 'bad', in the sense that they recognise their skills aren't quite up to scratch. The few stories I've ever written were terrible by anyones standards, both in plot and writing style; they were 'bad'.

I wouldn't necessarily call these stories 'art' however, and I would agree that in the subset of things that are commonly regarded as art, it's entirely opinion based. If the artist has created what they consider to be a good work, that touches or invokes emotion in them, then it can't be bad because it works! Just not for you.

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Postby zazou » Sun Jul 15, 2007 12:00 pm UTC

Ever since perspectivisme/nihilisme kicked in we've (had to) let go of the Universal Ideal in all sorts of fields. To name the three big ones: epistemology, ethics and esthetics. I believe this has wrongly led to some sort of general 'anything goes' feel (because it's all 'subjective' and a matter of 'opinion'), especially so in the field of esthetics.
In ethics for instance we still intuitively feel that taking that too far could have some really bad consequences.
In epistemology... well, let's face it: theoretically, there is something to be said for the ultimate nihilistic sweep that classifies science as just another beliefsystem/worldview... *starts to slowly back out of the room*
... but then again - in the words of mr munroe: "science, it works, bitches!"
I feel that something analogous could be said in regard to what constitutes as Beauty/Sublime.
So, yes, i do think that there is good art and bad art.

EDIT: added the "wrongly" , 'cause i'm not sure it was clear that the general jist of my post was that i do NOT agree with this subjectivation of everything. hence the "yes, i do think that there is good art and bad art" (and some standards to it).
Last edited by zazou on Sun Jul 15, 2007 2:15 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby stuck » Sun Jul 15, 2007 12:38 pm UTC

Yes, there is lots and lots of bad art. If we step outside of philosphy 101 for a moment and get past the "zomg it's all subjective, postmodernism announces the death of the unique and new!" mindset we'll readily see there is an awful amount of horrible, horrible art.

Poetry written by 99% of people is purile and worthless. Understanding meter, alliteration and rhyming schemes does not make one Baudelaire. I have seen images that a four year old could fingerpaint in a matter of seconds that sell for thousands of dollars. There needs to be some objectivity in art. One can't babble on about the subjectivity and unique beauty inherent in expressing one's emotions/opinion in an artistic form and automatically claim it is beautiful or sublime (Lyotard's sublime, that is).

The subjective arguments tire me like a tardy and troublesome child. Could we please move on to a higher level of thought?

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Postby Castaway » Sun Jul 15, 2007 1:14 pm UTC

Yes there is a shitload of bad art in the world. Bad art is mostly the consequence of doing something at the wrong time period. That is to say, that would be really really good in 1164, but in 2007, we've mastered the ways of perspective. Also cliches make bad art.

stuck wrote:The subjective arguments tire me like a tardy and troublesome child. Could we please move on to a higher level of thought?

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Postby hermaj » Sun Jul 15, 2007 1:23 pm UTC

There is a picture hanging in the Art Gallery in Sydney. It is a smallish sized canvas, and it is painted black. Two men are credited, and the work was created over two years.

THIS. IS. BAD. ART.

You cannot even take me to the Art Gallery any more without me going on about that painting. I would like to tear it off the wall and hit the gallery director with it.

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Postby chrispy1 » Sun Jul 15, 2007 1:25 pm UTC

hermaj wrote:You cannot even take me to the Art Gallery any more without me going on about that painting. I would like to tear it off the wall and hit the gallery director with it.


Take a picture of it and call it "Disgruntled Art Fan, 2007"... :D
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Postby Castaway » Sun Jul 15, 2007 1:26 pm UTC

I think it's good because it makes you angry.
You've just lost twenty dollars and my self respect.



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Postby TRM » Sun Jul 15, 2007 1:43 pm UTC

Well, I wouldn't necessarily call it 'bad' art, but art that 'isn't up to par'.

In my opinion, though, I would say that art that shows a degree of skill shows technical and thought-provoking skill. Some art is there just to look good, some art is there to give a message.

A mix of the two makes it even better.
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Postby zazou » Sun Jul 15, 2007 2:32 pm UTC

stuck wrote:Yes, there is lots and lots of bad art. If we step outside of philosphy 101 for a moment and get past the "zomg it's all subjective, postmodernism announces the death of the unique and new!" mindset we'll readily see there is an awful amount of horrible, horrible art.

The subjective arguments tire me like a tardy and troublesome child. Could we please move on to a higher level of thought?


Word.
'though i have this feeling that your post may be in reply to (a misunderstanding) of mine. this may or may not be solely due to some paranoia of mine (and the lack of 'tone' in written word). If there was a misunderstanding then that could mean my post wasn't really clear (additional problem:i'm not a native english speaker), so i've edited my OP.
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Postby Fail » Sun Jul 15, 2007 2:37 pm UTC

Image

I call it...Polar Bear in Snow...

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Postby djn » Sun Jul 15, 2007 2:50 pm UTC

I'd say one criteria for being bad is if it either fails to communicate what the artist was trying to get across, or if the artist didn't even try to give it any meannig. ("This shall be a delight to the senses" is a meaning, though, and then we're back to subjectivity.)

By that criteria, the above does work, since it's a functioning visual joke. :D

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Postby Jesse » Sun Jul 15, 2007 3:02 pm UTC

Meh, since even philosophers have toruble defining what art actually means amongst themselves it is hard to use philosophy as an argument against it. What role does the artist play? Is the audience more important? Is authorial intent dead, or is it all-important?

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Postby Klye » Sun Jul 15, 2007 3:03 pm UTC

An individual might consider a certain piece of art "good" or "bad," but that doesn't reflect everyone's opinion. Art that is "bad" to one person might be "good" to another.

Art cannot be good or bad, it can only evoke differant emotions from differant people.
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Postby djn » Sun Jul 15, 2007 3:13 pm UTC

Klye wrote:An individual might consider a certain piece of art "good" or "bad," but that doesn't reflect everyone's opinion. Art that is "bad" to one person might be "good" to another.

Art cannot be good or bad, it can only evoke different emotions from different people.


Ah, but wouldn't that make art that leaves everybody indifferent bad?
How about using the average judgement as a criteria?
Or, for that matter. If a piece of art is comissioned to make a dreary place feel more welcoming [1], and some artist paints something with that intent, yet the only emotion produced is anger at whoever were silly enough to pay for it. Wouldn't that qualify as bad art?

Now, despite the above, I do see your point (I might find something brilliant, and having the rest of the world disagree with me doesn't mean it's inherently bad). I just think it's sub-optimal to abandon all attempts to evaluate art because of it.


[1] And if you feel this trivialises art, I don't like you

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Postby EstLladon » Sun Jul 15, 2007 7:43 pm UTC

I think that art takes two people to be called art - one is creator (artist, composer, whatever) and the other is the recipient (the viewer, listener and so on). Art is when creator put something in his work and recepient gets something from the work (funny things happen when the thing that was put and the thing that was got are two different things). So problems with art can come from two sources - when creator fails to put something in, then it is bad art (bad poetry - maybe the author has some unique and interesting feelings, he just fails to deliver it, bad singing - singing wrong notes can spoil even the best song on the world), and when the recipient fails to get it, then it can still be good art (unappreciated artists which become famous after their death).
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Postby Verysillyman » Sun Jul 15, 2007 7:52 pm UTC

The question shouldn't be whether or not the art is bad, but if it's art. If it is art, then it can be effective in variopus degrees, but not good or bad.

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Postby Dark Ragnarok » Sun Jul 15, 2007 8:54 pm UTC

I as long as some skill and real effort and heart went into it, it's art if it turned one person head. If it's anyways half-assed for money....


RAP.... and lots of other pop-rock....


Yes it's BAD art.

(not all rap is bad... just popular shit on radio.)

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Postby ccromwell » Sun Jul 15, 2007 9:19 pm UTC

Different works of art mean different things to different people. If the art earnestly expresses the feelings and emotions of the individual who created it, then from a creative standpoint it is "good" art.

I really think the terms "good" and "bad" art are misnomers anyway, as when most of us say "that song sucks," or "that painting is not very good," we aren't saying that the song or the painting or the sculpture is bad in any objective sort of way (I hope not anyway); rather, what we mean is "I don't like that song" or "that painting just isn't my cup of tea."

So this isn't a question we can answer objectively, as art and the interpretations thereof are an extremely subjective, personal business.
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Postby gmalivuk » Sun Jul 15, 2007 9:46 pm UTC

ccromwell wrote:Different works of art mean different things to different people. If the art earnestly expresses the feelings and emotions of the individual who created it, then from a creative standpoint it is "good" art.


And if it utterly fails to express any such thing? It seems like if most people don't like the result, and if in any case it fails to convey what the artist wanted to convey, there is some validity in calling it "bad".
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Postby ccromwell » Sun Jul 15, 2007 9:58 pm UTC

Like I said, whether any given work of art is good or bad will vary wildly depending upon who you ask.

An artist could consider a particular work a failure, but that work could still become commercially successful and make the artist a million dollars, but in a case such as this, is that work still a failure?

These are questions that we really cannot answer for anybody but ourselves, and each answer is just as valid as the next until we start to think that our opinions have any kind of objective basis beyond our own perception.

I am very idealistic when it comes to art, though, and so I'm pretty cautious to judge any sort of art, be it sculpture, painting, or music. I often feel like I have no place casting criticism over another person's drawing or musical composition, as the artist created it. It cameinto being as the product of the sum of the artist's experiences and perception of the world, and who am I, I ask myself, to cast something so personal to the side as if it were trash?

And so I am perfectly willing to say things such as "I don't like this song" or "this painting just isn't my cup of tea," but I actively avoid statements like "THIS SONG SUCKS ASS HOW COULD YOU LIKE THIS CRAP." Besides being ignorant and abrasive at best, to insult an artist's work is, to me, insulting the artist him-or-herself. Stranger still, as a musician, I don't get upset at all if anyone critiques my playing. Clearly, I still struggle with questions like the one in the topic title a lot.
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Postby Cosmonaut Smut Peddler » Sun Jul 15, 2007 10:07 pm UTC

Fail wrote:Image

I call it...Polar Bear in Snow...

Image
BRILLIANT!

There is bad art, a lot of bad art. I can only agree with everyone who has stated it better already. But would like to add that I'm also tired of "art" communities that discourage "negative" criticism AKA: saying anything is ever wrong with anyone's painting. There's a line between truthful criticism and being a dick, but nowadays that line is very pink, frilly, and emotionally unstable line that's been moved to the point where only "u r teh awesome artest 4 reel" is an acceptable response. Dude, your art sucks.

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Postby tessuraea » Sun Jul 15, 2007 11:06 pm UTC

Art is why I get up in the morning
but my definition ends there
you know it doesn't seem fair
that I'm living for something I can't even define...

(Ani Difranco, "Out of Habit")


I can't speak to most forms of art, but I'm a poet and there is *definitely* bad poetry out there. Reams of it. Gods-please-blind-me-so-I-don't-have-to-read-more-of-this bad. Hanging out on DeviantArt for a while is a good way to find quite a lot of it. There's good poetry there as well, but sometimes you have to dig.

I would say that art can be effective or ineffective; likewise, it can show skillful use of technique or poor use of technique. Combine these terms in various ways and you have some ideas of good and bad...

I tend to think that the point of art is to evoke a reaction from the observer--so if you hate a poem because it creeps you out, I would call that effective, probably skillful, but unpleasant art.

Likewise, the zillions of realistic pictures of beaches, boats, cliffs, and lighthouses that tourists buy in the summertime around here are not, in my opinion, particularly effective as art--they're just pretty. But they are skillful and pleasant.

I would like to quote some terrible poetry off devart, but I'm half-afraid I'd end up linking to the work of some xkcdian. I might think something's awful, but I don't usually like to say so--and certainly not in a harsh way. But dig around there for a while, especially in the emotional poetry. Some of the goth stuff is just hilarious. *twitch twitch twitch*

My own poetry ranges from unskilled and only vaguely effective to skillful and effective. Some of it is pretty good, some is not.

I hate people who spew a bunch of words onto a piece of paper with no forethought and no afterthought and call it a poem. *hate*
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Postby stuck » Mon Jul 16, 2007 12:04 am UTC

zazou wrote:
stuck wrote:Yes, there is lots and lots of bad art. If we step outside of philosphy 101 for a moment and get past the "zomg it's all subjective, postmodernism announces the death of the unique and new!" mindset we'll readily see there is an awful amount of horrible, horrible art.

The subjective arguments tire me like a tardy and troublesome child. Could we please move on to a higher level of thought?


Word.
'though i have this feeling that your post may be in reply to (a misunderstanding) of mine. this may or may not be solely due to some paranoia of mine (and the lack of 'tone' in written word). If there was a misunderstanding then that could mean my post wasn't really clear (additional problem:i'm not a native english speaker), so i've edited my OP.


Never fear, my post was not reactive in the slightest. I'm just truly tired of arguments about whether bad art can exist. I've done a BA in literature and I tell you what, "it's just my opinion, it's the expression of my soul!" is an argument frequently abused by below par students. I'm just jaded ;-)
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Postby parkaboy » Mon Jul 16, 2007 12:06 am UTC

i consider most of my art bad, so yes.

then again, i'm holding myself against Amano, Vargas and Giger, and who DOESNT look like crap next to them?
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Postby kcr » Mon Jul 16, 2007 3:34 am UTC

There's definitely bad art out there. (How can something be considered "good art," if there isn't "bad art" to compare it to?) But that doesn't mean the artist can never improve and eventually create good art, or at least better art.

(For the record, I consider that "Polar Bear in Blizzard!" type of stuff to be bad art. Like, just... gah. Once I was at the National Gallery in DC with some friends, in the modern art area, and a couple of us made comments about the paintings that were literally just huge canvases of one color, with a stripe of another color. There was a whole SERIES of these. The others who didn't make comments got all offended and said we didn't understand, but what the hell? I could do canvases like that and I cannot draw for shit.)

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Postby the Cow » Mon Jul 16, 2007 3:40 am UTC

kcr wrote:I could do canvases like that and I cannot draw for shit.)


I suppose the question is not whether you can, but whether you did.

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Postby kcr » Mon Jul 16, 2007 4:03 am UTC

That does sound like it would be beautiful, but (in my uneducated about art opinion), it also sounds a lot more interesting than a solid-with-a-stripe canvas.

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Postby H.H » Mon Jul 16, 2007 10:18 pm UTC

Nowadays, with many items produced automatically, and the whole "Basically Decent" cult, people often fail to distinguish bad art and gimmicks on the one hand, and good art and excellent craftsmanship on the other.


If one makes a beautiful vase, he is a good craftsman, NOT a good artist. Even if he makes a lot of slightly different vases. Especially if he makes lots of them.

And an elaborate visual effect does not constitute an artwork. Rather, an interesting trick. I hope I'm not stepping on any toes here, but Escher falls into this category. Some (though i'm not sure) would even say Dali.
Picasso does not. If you take away the cubism, if you take away the pink/blue effect, there is still a very strong message there.

As always, true art is about layers: if, after pulling away the first one, there's nothing left, I cannot critically refer to it as art.
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Postby Phenriz » Mon Jul 16, 2007 10:32 pm UTC

yes.

bad is subjective, art is also... subjective.

the two aren't mutually exclusive, art can be bad.

just look at the 80's post modern "paintings"

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Postby leto » Mon Jul 16, 2007 10:33 pm UTC

Fail wrote:[image]

I call it...Polar Bear in Snow...


You do not know how spot-on you are with this. The local art-gallery (huge) recently had an exhibition on "nothing". You actually had to pay an entrance fee to see lots of rooms with NOTHING inside (except for some empty frames in a couple of rooms). And people seriously wandered through those empty rooms and commented on the empty frames hanging on the walls.
I mean, the first time somebody paints a 4m²-canvas in green and manages to sell it you can call it creativity (or stupidity on the other end, whatever). But after that, it's just not good anymore.

That aside: Yes, there is bad art.

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Postby lukkucairi » Mon Jul 16, 2007 10:39 pm UTC

I graduated with a BFA - this makes me particularly unqualified to talk about art :)

There's art made for people, and there's art made for artists and critics. I don't have a lot of time for the latter. Sometime in the middle of the 20th century (I'm blaming PoMo) the public got cut out of the loop, and the resulting head-up-assery just annoys me.

I've seen some indications (e.g. the second rise of surrealism) that we're coming out of this phase, which pleases me no end.

I walked out on my final critique my first year in college b/c I was so disgusted by the amount of hot air being spewed over art that was listless, puerile, and completely unevocative. I can spew hot air with the best of them - I have honed the production of a standard 7 page crit paper to an autonomic reflex - but hot air does not make art.

Good art to me is something that is undefined but highly evocative. It will stir emotion in a significant percentage of humans who encounter it. Art can be social criticism, but social criticism in and of itself != art.

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Postby space_raptor » Mon Jul 16, 2007 11:55 pm UTC

Many pieces of art make me feel nothing at all. Okay, derision, perhaps.

Yes, bad art exists.
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Postby SecondTalon » Tue Jul 17, 2007 12:04 am UTC

leto wrote:You do not know how spot-on you are with this. The local art-gallery (huge) recently had an exhibition on "nothing". You actually had to pay an entrance fee to see lots of rooms with NOTHING inside (except for some empty frames in a couple of rooms). And people seriously wandered through those empty rooms and commented on the empty frames hanging on the walls.


Pfft. Wannabes. I went to the nothing exhibit not only by not going, but by not even being aware it existed. I totally got the exhibit way better than anyone there....


And some people would agree with me.

There is bad art. Worse, there are bad art critics. Bad art critics allow bad art to be presented as good art. Bad art critics should be stoned, and the whole thing should be a performance art piece called "Cleansing the Filth"

There should also be a midget involved. The reasons for that should be obvious. The midget should be on stilts, wearing an Uncle Sam costume. The midget should be female. And only reffered to as "The Midget"
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Postby tessuraea » Tue Jul 17, 2007 12:14 am UTC

lukkucairi wrote:Good art to me is something that is undefined but highly evocative. It will stir emotion in a significant percentage of humans who encounter it. Art can be social criticism, but social criticism in and of itself != art.


Very very well said! All the rest of it too, I just didn't want to quote the whole thing.

I too am glad that many art forms (I include poetry here) seem to be coming back toward including the public. *cheer*
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Postby leto » Wed Jul 18, 2007 5:18 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:Bad art critics should be stoned


Even though they didn't say "Jehovah" yet?

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Postby evilbeanfiend » Wed Jul 18, 2007 5:29 pm UTC

can there be bad art?
for me yes, but it may not match with your perception.
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Postby Marbas » Wed Jul 18, 2007 5:30 pm UTC

Yes.

Deviant art is a great way to find it.
Jahoclave wrote:Do you have any idea how much more fun the holocaust is with "Git er Done" as the catch phrase?

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Postby Invisible_Insane » Wed Jul 18, 2007 6:14 pm UTC

Bad art.

'Nuff said.

Edit: Not the comic, but the subject matter. My apologies for the potential offense.
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