What is the Object of Art?

What is the Object of Art

What is art to you? Do you know what it’s there to do?

Tomorrow, someone will ask me what I did today. I’ll tell them I tried to create a work of effective emotional stimulus, which was meant to communicate and entertain. In other words, an artwork.

However, not all art is made with that thought in mind, hence the world of debate and discussion around the object of art. And, how can any art matter when we compare it to what goes on in the world? Just look at the confusion, greed, and stupidity of humans.

Year ago, a friend of mine had her son, daughter-in-law, and grandchild murdered in that bloody massacre in the shopping mall in Kenya. She is an artist. How does anyone go on to create art after something like that happens to you? I don’t know, but we do.

Such is the strength and drive that humans have to communicate; it overrides the disasters that other people and the world can throw at us. If I’ve learned anything about the world and art, the trick to both is to keep on moving.

One of my favourite artworks is a painting by the Australian gestural abstractionist Peter Upward, 29 Sep 1932 – Nov 1983. It’s a work titled New Reality; you can view it here http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/51.1975/

This piece astounds me; not because of its visual dynamic, design or proportion, but the idea, and the freedom in this work screams out originality and liberty to me. It came from an autonomous mind, unencumbered by dependence on what has happened before.

Peter could think and be free on the canvas, after all, he created it in 1961. Many artists have been able to create that one great work that moved and affected people. I guess that’s why artists do keep on moving, so they can find and build that one great work. The hard part for artists is to know that you’ve done something unique and produced a standout work.

Can art be defined? And do we want to?

There are many objects of art, and today art is something that we can’t define anymore. Artists have it much tougher trying to describe a work, and get it to fit into a category. Much of the art today is art for art’s sake, and for me, that works. While these artworks may not be commercial, so the world might never get to see them.

And, if the world never sees them, what’s the point? This is the dilemma for many artists, and not every artist is going to be seen, heard or read, but we still keep right on doing it as though that never mattered at all. And for most artists, it doesn’t. I’ve found myself attempting to give up art simply because I’m not getting the sales or recognition. However, that drive to produce art is still in me, burning away as bright as it ever has. It’s a fire that cannot be extinguished.

I’m going to go off and listen to 4.33 seconds of silent music by John Cage now, just for inspiration. I want to hear what might be possible, if I keep on moving. Because if I keep trying, I might produce something that moves and changes people. That just might be the object of art.

Image courtesy of Stoonn at http://www.freedigitalphotos.net


  1. Philosophers tried -and keep trying- to define what the art is, and what is the object of art. An Italian philosopher said that art is a type of language. Hence, you can’t do without communicating, no matter what goes on in the world, even after the bloody massacre in Kenya. Picasso created that famous painting in ‘response’ to the bombing of Guernica! Nietzsche said also that art legitimizes the world. I think he was right.

    ps: I hope that my English is clear enough 🙂

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