Anything Can Be Art

As I’ve journeyed along over the past few years, learning art, blogging about my experiences, and discovering new media and techniques, I’ve often asked a familiar question. What is art? It’s a short, simple question, to be sure, but the answer is anything but short or simple, because, in truth, anything can be art.

I’m reminded of the saying that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, and if we change beauty to art, isn’t our statement equally true? Art, I’m learning, is everywhere. It can be anything.

I’m currently re-reading Denman Ross’s 1907 treatise on his Theory of Pure Design, and his ideas about art and the elements of design have definitely influenced my thinking. At my husband’s most recent visit to the retinologist, I wandered through the lobby a bit — due to the pandemic, I can no longer join my husband in the office — and everywhere I went I saw art. Not the artworks hanging on the wall, but artistic expressions in the patterns and designs of the building itself.

Here are a few examples of what I found:

First, the carpet.

 

More carpet in a different area.

 

 

A panel of a divider.

 

 

And, so much more. The lampshades. The wallpapers. Even the arrangement of plants along the railing. To my eyes, all of these were art.

I’ve also come to be fascinated lately by the concept of disposable art. Now it’s here, now it’s gone, look quickly, or it may blow away, dissolve, or disappear by other means.

 

First, from a recent walk, I loved discovering this leafy art.

This art came from my kitchen. Can you guess what it is?

And yet another from the kitchen.

2021 is my year of exploration, and I love exploring these different concepts of art. It can be pure design. It can be natural. It can be disposable. And, it can also be quite accidental. Consider this — which I consider to be an absolute masterpiece in its own way.

I love everything about this crazy, colorful acrylic abstract. Yes, this was all an accident, and maybe you can guess what you’re actually looking at here. It’s not a palette, but it’s close.

This was the bottom of my acrylic pouring pan. Yep. This is where all those luscious colors of fluid acrylics have pooled together, dripping, moving, forming designs all on their own.

I know that some acrylic pour artists actually scrape off these acrylics and use them for jewelry-making. I’m not that talented. But here’s the story.

Remember me recently mentioning my lost palette knives? As I’ve been digging around and straightening up the studio a bit, I’ve found a couple, and on one recent morning as I gathered up my acrylics for a pouring — which you’ll eventually see here — I uncovered another palette knife. It was stuck like glue to the acrylics on the bottom of the pan. So I tugged at it. I pulled on it. And the entire acrylic layer began to detach from the aluminum pan. I laughed, fell in love with it, and carefully managed to pull it out in one piece.

There are aspects of this — painting? — that you can’t see in the photograph. I hesitate to call it a painting because it’s thick, and the acrylics have molded themselves into the design the bottom of the aluminum baking pan. There is also a row of “fringe” as I call it at the bottom. These are little strips of acrylic that actually resemble thick fringe.

I have this gorgeous piece of abstract art on my easel now. I want to be certain that it dries thoroughly. I’ll then spray it with several coats of varnish, and I’ll find a way to frame it. I definitely want this hanging on my wall.

It just goes to show, that when we look for art, we’ll find it. Not necessarily hanging in a museum or gallery, but anywhere and everywhere around us. It’s under our feet. It’s in the air. It’s wherever we choose to see it. Truly, anything can be art.

34 Comments

    1. Thanks. I was surprised when my husband came to the art studio and saw my “weird acrylic” — and he loved it! He doesn’t care for abstract art, but this is so incredible looking… LOL. I just have to figure out exactly how to mount, frame, and/or display it.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Good guess, but no, the “kitchen art” both came from making gelatin dessert. The bubbly one shows when I first poured in water. The other one shows it after I’d added sliced bananas. I’m having fun now finding more “art” while cooking. LOL

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  1. Read this one with interest Judith, it reminded me of a friendly argument I had on Compuserve nearly 25 years ago, about what was and wasn’t art. That argument has been raging for the best part of a century, if not longer. It led to my first contact with Dadaism and Du Champ and his Fountain. Here’s the link, but feel free to delete & not post this as some might find it a bit offensive. As far as the argument was concerned, it kind of floored me.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fountain_(Duchamp)

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    1. LOL… oh, the good old days! Fun to meet another Compuserve user. Most people have no idea what that even was! Indeed, the question about what is and isn’t art has long raged throughout the art world and will continue to rage on long after we’re gone. I’ve addressed the question in several different posts over the years I’ve been art-blogging. There is, of course, no definitive answer. Art can be whatever we want to call it, it can be personal expression, it can be whatever we can convince people to buy, and if that includes DuChamp’s Fountain or Manzoni’s “poop in a can”… well, it’s not what I call art, but to each his own, I suppose. There’s also controversy about Serrano’s “Immersion”, and sometimes it seems artists simply tried to be as offensive as possible in the name of art. And then there’s Mark Rothko. Not a favorite of mine (although I’ve come to appreciate his work more) and Yves Klein with his solid blue “monochromes”. Is that truly art? Well, much depends on how we define art, and as I’m now learning to see art in anything and everything, I guess I’m on record at this point as saying that, yes, even those “artworks” which I find ridiculous, meaningless, and offensive, can still be considered “art” if someone wants to view them that way. I’ve learned, too, that art is part of culture, and I can better understand artists who were raised in oppressive cultures and then experienced the unrestrained freedoms and excess of America. Seeing art in that historical context helps me see what drove many artists to such extremes. Overall, it’s a fun question, and one that’s always sure to prompt much fascinating discussion. Thank you so much for your comments and the link.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL… yeah, my husband sometimes shakes his head in wonderment. But he’s weird in his own ways, too, so it all works out! And I’m glad to have “weird friends” like you!

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  2. I love how you express yourself so artfully, Judith. (Whatever that means, of course.) I am newly inspired after reading this one post. Thanks for following my site so I could find my way to yours!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! I’m so glad you visited. I love browsing around and finding new art sites, and I’m happy you’ve found a bit of inspiration from my post.

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  3. Well, anything can be art. To an artist. Not everyone sees that. The worst kind of art is art that I’m told is art, that people create to sell, and think it should make them rich. Art, as you said is in the eye of the beholder. As soon as one tries to make art for someone else, it is less so, I think, because you can’t really know what someone will appreciate, that is, a potential buyer, usually, or even a family member. Of course, what I’ve often heard from artists is that they make art, and if one does not like it they don’t understand art. As well, I think that if an artist makes something, and they wouldn’t ever buy anything like that themselves, or hang it on their own walls, or on a pedestal, etc., then it is less than art – it is simply a commodity for trade. One can hope others will like it and buy it, but once having been sold, it is not necessarily art. To me, the art of anything, as music, photography, painting, sculpture, architecture, writing, is in the passion. An artist who spends a lot of time creating a piece of art, much more time than could really be charged for the work of art at minimum wage per hour, has put their passion into it. However, a musician, for example, who creates a perfectly written score, but it’s all an intellectual exercise, is not putting a lot of passion into their music, and I will not like it. You see this in many fields: houses built with two bedrooms, a bath, a kitchen. No attention was paid to natural light, other than a few misplaced windows. All is created with artificial lighting in mind. The walls are rectangular everywhere, of uniform height and thickness. Art like that is soul-crushing, but it sells. I like all kinds of music, display art, movies, books, photography, but if there is no element of spontaneous creativity, of time spent in creation, of passion – that is, passion felt by the artist, passion that is then communicated to me, then I don’t like it. To me, it will never be art.

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    1. Interesting thoughts, and I agree that “real art” is rooted in passion. Like you, I don’t care for the sort of art that is merely made for the purpose of selling. Yes, there’s a market for that sort of commercial art, but if we’re creating art just for others to like, it’s not really art from our heart or our soul. I have to create art for myself. If someone else likes it, wants it, buys it, that’s great. But it’s still something I created from what I thought and saw and felt. Hopefully at times my art will touch someone else. But still, the truest art begins with who we are and what we want to express.

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      1. I got myself thinking about art some more. I’m including a link to an old post about the Albuquerque Railyards which once employed 1/4 of the city’s population. Most of it still exists, but despite its deterioration, it is not abandoned. It’s being used for concerts, farmer’s markets with arts and crafts, and many other things, like movies. This page has many photos that show, to me, art! I feel the past when I’m in there, and the building, the giant overhead cranes and tracks for moving locomotives around, the creosote-soaked woodblocks used for flooring, and those green window panes scattered throughout speak to me as art. I think the green panes were used for shade, or perhaps the clear ones were responsible for too many birds crashing into them, but the randomness of placement creates a story in my head, as art should.
        https://terrystuff.wordpress.com/2014/11/19/the-old-rail-yards-in-albuquerque/

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      2. Oh, how glorious it would be to hear a concert performed there! I agree that it’s definitely a place of art. I’m so glad that the structure is being put to good use. Thank you for sharing such a special place with me.

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