What is Art?
The topic of Seth Godin‘s last blog post and his definition of ‘art’ and ‘artist’ in his recent book “Linchpin” has proven touchy in the fine art community.
It’s not the medium or the oil or the price or whether it hangs on a wall or you eat it. What matters, what makes it art, is that the person who made it overcame the resistance, ignored the voice of doubt and made something worth making.
~ Seth Godin
Some time ago when I first read Seth’s controversial interpretation, I found a discussion in the comments section of the Fine Art Views Blog. The whole idea was making some wonder if their ‘identity’ was threatened or that the meaning of ‘artist’ was in some way being diminished. If anybody can be called an artist in any form of work – what are we?
I shared my thoughts at the time, but, when the topic came up again today, it stuck with me yet again. Clearly I had not resolved it in my own mind. I went so far as to leave the post up in my-e-mail all day.
I was updating my website tonight (I am in the middle of a switch) and I was moving over one of my favourite quotes. I immediately ran back to my e-mail and realized that it seems that one of Canada’s most innovative ‘artists’ of the 20th century agreed with Mr. Godin:
Inside each one of us is an artist. . . . And that’s what an artist is, a child who has never lost the gift of looking at life with curiosity and wonder. Art is not the exclusive possession of those who can draw, write poems, make music, or design buildings. It belongs to all those who can see their way through all things with imagination.
~ Arthur Lismer
Arthur Lismer (1885-1969) was one of the founding members of the Canadian Group of Seven – a group of fine artists that changed painting in Canada and helped Canadians find their identity in their landscapes. These artists/painters risked criticism and overcame resistance in their communities. If Lismer can so broadly define ‘artist’ then why can’t we?
To anyone who lives and acts with imagination – thank you for sharing your art.