It's become increasingly trendy to take something that makes no sense at all, and bend it around to some kind of artistic meaning. I see this all the time. I see it in liberal arts majors. I see it in music. I see it in movies. I see it in psychology. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. If something appears not to have a meaning, 99 times out of 10, it just doesn't. So, instead of framing a dead bird on the wall and calling it avant-garde post-modernistic art, call it a dead bird, and let the rest of us get back to sleep.

...however, being an artist just about guarantees someone will feel you make no sense.

The "but is it art?" debate has been raging for a long time; the Latin saying, "de gustibus non est disputandum" sums up the best thought on the subject over the millenia. In matters of taste, there can be no dispute. Crucify one Ken doll, and you're a freak; crucify enough Ken dolls, create dioramas of Kewpie doll Last Suppers, and produce winged Barbie/Alien transplants with little gold-foil halos, and you're an artist.

If you are unmoved by the dead bird framed on the wall, don't buy a replica. If it sells, it's art, even if you don't buy into it.

Is "found poetry" art? How about "found sound"? Maybe. Not all of it resonates with me; some of it doesn't resonate with anyone but the creator. I'm conservative in many ways; I'm ambivalent about the National Endowment for the Arts for the same reason I'm against a revival of Nazi-style censorship. Remember, they banned The Three-Penny Opera... Can't we all just let art find its market?

I am good friends with a man whom I consider to be a great artist. He recently lost first prizes in two juried exhibitions to works involving Barbie dolls. I consider this a great travesty; however, I understand that I am one man with one opinion.

On the wall of my office, I have a picture of him standing beside one of his pieces, his ear to one of its wooden panels, and I reflect upon its attached note frequently. It reads, in full, "Here I am trying to get some advice in Washington. I think it was telling me not to count on anyone understanding my work."

This is his personal cross: that he creates works which have great meaning for him and the other literates who have an idea about what he's trying to accomplish, but such artistic endeavors seem to many others to, in the words of the node title, make no sense. For example, he often adorns his work with obscure scriptural passages in the original koine. At the above-mentioned show in Washington, the head of the Theology department at the host university strenuously argued the case for my friend's piece. This advice was overridden, and he ultimately lost, I believe, to a collection of television tuning knobs fashioned in the shape of a cross.

It is easy to understand what might be behind a composition including a crucified Barbie doll or television knobs. These things may not always make sense, but it is easy to ascribe some sort of meaning to them without actually delving too deeply into the actual composition. These things, because they are easy to understand, will find some sort of market and will eventually be generally acknowledged as "art," while many things of true artistic character will remain hidden in the shadows. This is the way of things. I would therefore rewrite the node title to read, "The fact that someone thinks the absurd things you produce make some kind of lame societal statement doesn't mean you're an artist."

I've been going to art museums with my Da since I was tiny because he is an artist and thinks I need to be exposed to art.

He has this theory that he brings up any time that I complain about a piece being incomprehensible.

He says that as an artist you are trying to express yourself. You are trying to communicate. Your goal is to translate your thoughts, problems, desires, whatever into a medium.

Ideally you want other people to understand this translation.

If your audience doesn't understand what you are saying then you are just babbling to yourself; and while you may feel refreshed or relieved by talking to yourself, you aren't being a very good communicator.

This doesn't mean that you are not making art, though it may mean that you are not making good art, because there will always be someone who will understand (or think they understand) what you are talking about.

But still it is important to communicate with your audience: If you aren't communicating what are you doing it for? Your craft becomes nothing but mental masturbation and THAT is definitely not good art.

There's this one immature girl on this MUD I'm on - she's an actress and has spouted off some of the most meaningless gibberish I've ever read, passing it off as poetry. I was half-tempted to tell her to see Woody Allen's Bullets Over Broadway just for the scenes involving the playwright who'd written a single play which no one understood and since no one would finance it, the play was taken up by the group as a wronged masterpiece. As John Cusack points out late in the film, it's crap that has been labelled art.

Everything in life is subjective and everyone's entitled to their own opinions, however, creating a jumbled mess of anything and trying to pass it off as art is ridiculous and insulting. The artist Jackson Pollock isn't understood by all audiences, but at least his splashes of paint are strewn about in patterns. When someone first painted a canvas white and submitted it as art, it was witty and clever, but when others tried to follow that, it became a joke. In the end, it's all a matter of taste, but if the work itself is tasteless, then the majority of the audience will respond with the title of this node.

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