Connoisseur? I Barely Know Her!

So….art.   This is a can of worms that just stinks more and more once it’s been opened.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion (heck, that’s kind of the point of the Enlightenment) but sometimes artsy is just another word for crappy style or just plain bad taste.  Art is subjective, and should technically still be counted as art if it invokes some emotion, right?  I’d argue not necessarily.  Look at Andy Warhol’s iconic paintings of Campbell’s tomato soup cans.  Ok, it’s a picture of a can of soup.  Is it art?  The only feelings it evokes from me is a roll of the eyes and a shoulder shrug that begs to question, “Why?  Because he could?”  I know, Richardson would say, “Of judging its goodness as a connoisseur, one should pronounce it such in proportion to the number of good qualities it has, and their degrees of goodness,” (Richardson, 14-15).  Well, it certainly does look like a can of soup.  That’s pretty much it as far as the degrees of goodness.  If it doesn’t do much well at all, should we still consider it art?  One could argue that it was original, because no one had thought to do it before.  My argument would begin and end with, “Of course they didn’t because it’s stupid.”  Then again, somebody didn’t think so because they threw him money and acclaim.  Bad art can be easily elevated by worse critics.

To that end, I’d like to point out a trend in pop music, to elevate the most generic, watered-down, gimmicky shlock some record-company stooge can drone out in a day.  Music use to be a way to express things, and was celebrated for the skill it took to manufacture it, perform it, or the pieces of one’s soul they put into it.  People listened to John Lee Hooker because he could play the crap out of a guitar and had a voice like he really had felt the blues, and he told a great story with it.  Somebody like Beyonce, on the other hand, I can almost attest to the fact that a manufactured beat that you autotune on top of is pretty much par for the course.   Where’s the feeling?  What story is she telling?  Why?

I don’t know.  Maybe I’m being way too much of a snob, but if I can’t see the good in it, should I be forced to acknowledge it has goodness?  That defeats the purpose of art if everything produced suddenly is “art,” right?  I guess I just don’t feel the same when I hear “Single Ladies” as I do when I hear “The Feelin’ is Gone.”

Hooker: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHV9R-sKaBk&noredirect=1

Knowles:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4m1EFMoRFvY

Richardson: https://engl382fall2013.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/richardson-two-discourses-i.pdf

Warhol: http://images1.friendseat.com/2012/09/Andy-Warhol-Campbell-Soup-Can.jpg

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One thought on “Connoisseur? I Barely Know Her!

  1. I like how you used Andy Warhol to start off your example! There is a Khan Academy video on his Campbell soup cans, in case you’re actually interested: https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/art-history/art-history-1907-1960-age-of-global-conflict/big-questions-modern-contemporary-art/v/andy-warhol–campbell-s-soup-cans–why-is-this-art
    What I got from your response is that art should evoke some sort of emotion from the viewer in order to be “art.” I think it’s worth considering that even though certain works may not evoke emotion in you, they will in others. Which then brings us back to the question of, where do we draw the line???

    Thanks for this response. You can get an S, although I definitely wanted to give you a U for talking crap about Beyonce 🙂

    Grade: S

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