Art. We are surrounded by it, we are enveloped by it in all its glorious forms. It is there, beautifully framed and distantly untouchable in a hushed museum, it is in the strangely mesmerizing scenes from long ago, from a long-dead artist. It is tacked to the wall or on the fridge, the somehow-pleasing finger daubs of a favorite granddaughter, made after that glorious day on the beach.
Art is everywhere, and art is different for everyone in every way.
Everyone ultimately defines their art for themselves. And heaven forbid that we should define “good” art for anyone.
Some things speak to us. Some cause us to stop and stare, some just to smile gently as we pass by. Some just to us, and some to many millions of us. These works have some quality that sets them apart from others.
What is this mysterious quality? Must the artist have suffered and poured his soul onto paper? Could she have made this thing only in some blithe and transcendent moment? Must it have some meaning that only a few can know?
I found a definition that works for me, a definition that stripped much mystery and dusty yawning theory from the subject. It seems that others can apply it too, so I wanted to share it. And like any useful truth, it is simple.
Art is quality of communication. Simply, does it communicate, and does it communicate to you?
Notice I do not say “what” does it communicate, but does it just communicate, and how well does it do just that. Does it communicate something, anything, and how well does it do that? And most importantly, does it communicate to YOU?!!!
Does it grab you, hold you? Does it ask a question, start a conversation, compel your interest? Do you feel just a bit brighter every time you glimpse it in passing? That’s a communication.
Don’t listen to what the critics say, listen to you. You are the sole arbiter of what is good, for you. Ignore Joe down the hall who uses a torrent of words to talk you into his take on a piece.
Art talks to you, or not at all.