What is Art?

What is art? How do we define it? Different people have different tastes. My husband, for example, likes the dark, heavy work of the Old Masters and the stormy seas of J.M.W. Turner. I prefer a lighter touch and enjoy the paintings of Monet, and the Arts & Crafts and Art nouveau movements, including the works of Charles Rennie MacIntosh, Alfonse Mucha, and others.

Art. /ɑːt/ /ɑːrt/ 1. the use of the imagination to express ideas or feelings, particularly in painting, drawing, or sculpture. 2. the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power. Oxford English Dictionary

My background is in technical theatre, earning my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Scenic & Technical Production. Part of that education included Art History and History of the Theatre, both courses I loved. And, of course, we focused most of our time on Greek and Roman theatre. To recreate these styles, you have to understand them.

I’ve lived in Europe for 12 1/2 of the last 16 years, which has allowed me to visit and see the works I’ve studied, especially in Athens, Paris, Rome, and Florence. I developed a sore neck staring at Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam in the Sistine Chapel. Though, like the Mona Lisa, it was smaller than I expected, but beautiful nonetheless.

In Florence, I have seen David in all his magnificence. He represents strength and youth. The carving in the stone is so detailed, so lifelike, I expected him to turn and say something. The veins in his hand. Or the realism in the foot that appears about to step off the podium. The fact that he was naked didn’t really matter, and I can’t say I even thought about it.  According to several sources, Michelangelo said, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it, and it is the task of the sculptor to release it.” He has said of many of his works, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set it free.”

So, you can only imagine my dismay at the recent events in Florida. The principal of the Tallahassee Classical School resigned amidst the uproar over David‘s inclusion in a lecture, which also covered works such as The Creation of Adam and Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. David, the 16th-century Renaissance sculpture, one of the world’s most famous works of art, was deemed pornographic by three parents, and Hope Carrasquilla was given the choice to resign or be fired.

I understand they were school kids, but if they are of a level to be introduced to classical works, I think they could handle it. They must have done this in the past since they have a policy of sending letters to the parents in advance. Had this been the school my children attended and I felt they were ready, I would have gladly allowed them in the classroom.

Ok, I’ll get off my soapbox now. I rarely get political in these articles, preferring to share historical tidbits or places I’ve traveled. But censorship in any form sets me off. So, I’ll wrap this up by including some of the humor the internet was quick to provide.

Do you have a favorite artist?

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