Quality in Art Part 1

The idea about this writing is very simple. To define art and define quality in art. It sounds very ambitious and difficult. But it might be a reasonable task. 

Most writings on this subject go wrong from the very beginning. If you don’t find the art, if you just take it for granted, it will probably end up in a mess or another contribution to the long story of posing question about the nature of art. 

So, the first aim is to find the art. Either you have to find the authority who will be able to tell you what is art or not or receive a definition which will make it possible to see the difference between art and non-art. Of course this authority is the represent of the institution of art. Not a certain person or a special option but the general opinion. The point is to find what is valid, what is regarded as the opinion of the serious artworld. This could mean asking about art to an art historian, a critic, an aesthetician, an artist and so forth – as representing the general opinion of the artworld. 

It is obvious that there is something we call art in the contemporary society. We can find it in museums, galleries, read about it in books, magazines and newspapers. And there is such a thing as history of art where the qualified objects of art a brought together and organized after certain principles. 

This is the outline of the answer to the question about where to find the art. One important aspect is that the answer is connected with quality. Traditionally classifying art is equal to classifying a quality; art in this sense has always a standard of quality. Bad art is not art at all.  

But taking a liberal standpoint, and I don’t think this causes any controversies, we could say that there are many artworlds; most of them consisting of low quality art – but it will still be plausible to name it art. We can simply say that objects created for more or less aesthetic pleasure can be classified as art. It doesn’t mean that it is a correct definition of art, just that it is a widespread opinion and probably the only way to connect all the broad artworlds.  

It isn’t too interesting as the next step will be to formulate what actually is the qualified part of artworks. Thus, classifying art is something that can be done in order to get an overview, but it is not the point. Rather, the point is to be found in the qualified part of art.  

In most examination of art the target is the artwork itself. This may certainly be of interest but it could be a better strategy to start with how the artworks are handled. No doubt a clear sign of quality is when an artwork is chosen by represents of the advanced artworld institutions. This is e.g. the case with history of art. Here we find a general agreement about what is to be considered as good art and even very good art. Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Goya and Manet are always chosen to be a part of the main core of history of art. And as most of the content in different books of the history of art is the same it is possible to say that there is a general – and uncontroversial – agreement about quality in art.  

What should be keenly observed is that it is about choosing. The artworks and artists in the history of art are chosen. To be chosen is the sign, the activity that concludes quality. The artworld confer the status of the object through choice. It is a necessary condition though not sufficient. There must also be a reason for the choice. But choice is safe as it is an activity which can be observed. Even if it is possible to find reasons it will be very hard to proof that a certain reason is why an artwork will be chosen. 

In the following part these subjects will be discussed: 

Are general opinions in the artworld always correct?A traditional history of art is a book on quality works. Certainly this is correct when the book is printed. But how was it before and how will it become later?Why is choosing important as a way of measuring the quality of an artwork and an artist?Is it possible to find the reasons why the artworld is choosing certain artworks? 


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