How Art Might Be Good

I grew up believing that style is just a matter of private preference. Each individual has things they like, but nobody’s preferences are any higher than anyone else’s. There isn’t any such factor as good taste. Like lots of things I grew up believing, this turns out to be false, and I’ll attempt to clarify why. One problem with saying there is no such thing as good taste is that it also means there isn’t any such thing pretty much as good art. If there have been good art, then people who liked it could have better taste than people who didn’t.

So in the event you discard taste, you also must discard the thought of art is good, and artists are good at making it. It was pulling on that thread that unraveled my childhood religion in relativism. When you’re trying to make things, taste becomes a sensible matter. You have to determine what to do subsequent. Would it make the painting higher if I changed that part? If there’s no such thing as higher, it doesn’t matter what you do.

Actually, it doesn’t matter if you paint at all. You may just go out and buy a prepared-made blank canvas. If there is no such factor nearly as good, that could be simply as great an achievement as the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Less laborious, definitely, but when you’ll be able to obtain the same level of performance with less effort, certainly that is extra-spectacular, not much less.

Yet that does not appear quite proper, does it? I think the key to this puzzle is to keep in mind that artwork has an audience. Art has a purpose, which is to curiosity its viewers. Good artwork (like good something) is artwork that achieves its function notably nicely. The that meaning of “interest” can differ.

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Some works of art are meant to shock, and others to please; some are meant to leap out at you, and others to sit quietly within the background. But all artwork has to work on viewers, and—here’s the critical point—members of the viewers share things in common. For instance, nearly all people find human faces engaging.

It appears to be wired into us. Babies can recognize faces practically from beginning. In truth, faces seem to have co-evolved with our interest in them; the face is the body’s billboard. So all different issues being equal, a painting with faces in it’s going to interest people multiple without. One motive, it’s easy to imagine that style is merely private choice is that, if it isn’t, how do you select the folks with higher taste? There are billions of people, every with their very own opinion; on what grounds are you able to prefer one to a different?