This is an age-old question and as an artist it is a question I ponder often. During my college days, I took a course on the Philosophy of Art. The question, “What is art?” was the topic of many discussions throughout the course. It was just that, a topic of debate as there is no definitive answer to this age-old question.
Recently, I was on a Familiarization (Fam) Tour in Phoenix, Arizona with a group of my colleagues. While onsite we ended up in the Scottsdale Gallery District. As we walked in and out of the galleries in Old Town, this question came up again. “What is art?” I don’t recall the name of the gallery or the name of the artist, but the piece of artwork I do recall…a large scale ceramic M&M priced at $250 and change. One of my colleagues said they liked the piece, even said they would buy it...if they could.
Is this art?
Was the artist inspired while creating this piece? Were they truly in the moment lost in a stream of consciousness while creating this artistic expression or did they create this as a form of “art that sells”, a consumer product at a price point that is within reach of the mainstream? Various artists featuring large-scale lipstick, packs of gum, tacos, and even a Viagra pill filled the gallery. Did these artists discover a niche or is it just ART as a commodity?
What is art anyway?