'Yes, but is it art?'

Recently I was prompted to remember all the times I have asked myself, asked someone else or even been asked by someone else this question. When you actually think about it, how many times has this question cropped up within your life? No, that isn’t rhetorical. Let’s have some interaction on Twitter or over Facebook when you’ve read this blog and see what you all have to say! I had a chat with Clive Perry about a month ago regarding the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield (which, by the way, is fantastic, I’ll write a bit on that in a week or two’s time) and postmodern/installation art. We discussed indeed ‘if it was art’, and generally concluded the description of art varies greatly but what is chiefly important is how justified is someone in presenting their work as art. He had a story or two about his life to tell me as well, which was great. A lovely man is our Clive; and a great artist, we have a thing or two of his for sale, including brilliant Jubilee prints.

So what is it that defines ‘art’? Well, I don’t actually know, nor do I believe anyone knows. What is art? Its film, its music, its thousands of canvases owned by Charles Saatchi, it’s a shark in a tank by Damien Hirst and its even a cous-cous sandcastle according to French artist Kader Attia (you can see that piece at Tate Liverpool alongside work by Jeff Koons and Arman to name but two). Truth be told, art is a great myriad of things and with that state of existence comes a great myriad of different ‘excuses’ for art.

If I was to cut a carrot in half, put it on a chopping board and name it Sally then a man in a very expensive jacket somewhere in the country side might see its ‘conceptualist value’ and purchase it immediately for lots and lots of money…

Or he may not. Now, whilst that all sounds very silly, it’s an extreme example of how whatever someone creates, however much time and effort they may put in to visualising their ideas, however minimalist they may be, it is all artistically valuable. I say that because art is to love, create and share. And if I wanted to love, create and share Sally the split carrot then what would stop me (biodegradation aside)?

If someone puts themselves into something then art is about us drawing them out and asking, “Why?

Obviously we can rarely ask this to the artist themselves, so we must ask ourselves a lot of the time, but the thought is still there to be provoked. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that next time the question, ‘Yes, but is it art?’ Crops up in your life, ponder away! Indeed what is on the surface may not appear art, but sometimes the conceptual value can be considered art… But for conceptualist art I suppose really you have to be into modern and postmodern art (generally speaking)…

To me, a great piece of art is one I remember and share with others; it lasts, I remember it and I preach about it so that others share it also. This is why over the next few weeks I’ll be spotlighting some of the weird and wonderful findings I make in the ethers of Gallery 42 and asking, ‘is it art?’

With that in mind, watch this space, everyone. Don’t forget to check out our Artist of the Month wall when you next come in to the Gallery; with most of the month gone already, time is running out!