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Greg Young – What Is Art?

September 15, 2009

Art is something created that, either through its process of creation or the end result, evokes some emotional response in at least one observer.  It is a mode of transferring emotions among individuals. Art doesn’t have to be beautiful, but it does have to inspire.  Take, for example, Ron Mueck’s untitled sculpture:

This is not at all beautiful or aesthetically pleasing in the traditional sense, but it is art. Whether your response to this sculpture is fear, disgust, or pity does not matter; the response itself validates the sculpture’s status as a work of art. Art appeals to our most visceral emotions and instincts in a way that usual dialogue cannot. It serves as a way of expressing feelings and communicating ideas from creator to observer at a more basic and direct level. Mueck could have just told us about the sad old naked man represented by the sculpture, but it would lose something in the translation that is apparent in the sculpture. In creative writing classes we’re usually told to “show, don’t tell.” Art is the way we can “show.”

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