Yesterday, I went to an art gallery in Heidelberg. Its current exhibition is called “It is only a state of mind”. The presented artworks play with reality, subjectivity and the subconscious part of the mind.
While I was starring at the different artworks, my mind responded to some of them. I was wondering about the definition of an artwork. What is the difference between an artwork and an artefact? And from what moment on, is a human being called artist?
Scientists have developed three theories to answer these questions. The first group argues that an artwork is aesthetically superior to usual objects. Therefore, the aesthetic theory claims that every human can recognize an artwork because it has certain qualities of visual attractiveness.
The second group says that an artwork can always be interpreted. It suits into an art-historical tradition and carries a system of ideas and meanings. Thus, the interpretive theory was born.
The last group argues that an object becomes an artwork if there is an institution behind it, e.g. art spaces, art academies, critics, collectors … According to the institutional theory, everything could become art if there are people who make it so.
Critics became an important tool to show what an artwork is and how good it is made. I only wonder why we tend to speak about superficial qualities when we talk about art. How did the actor play in a movie? How do the words rhyme? How does the instrument sound like?
Should an artwork not reflect our emotions?
We like them because they speak directly to our heart and soul. If we can hear its message or not depends simply on our current state of mind.
When I was a kid, I could not understand why jazz music was cool. Now, I like it, because its spontaneity reminds me of my own unpredictable life. The singers express what I feel, but cannot say.
For a long time, I thought that going to a gallery was a waste of time. But one exhibition changed my opinion when I was 19. It showed Frida Kahlo’s artwork. Suddenly, I could find my own suffering in the paintings of a Mexican woman who was leading a completely different life than me.
I do not think that the three art theories are completely wrong but we humans are subjective. We respond to something if it has a personal meaning for us.
Therefore, I think that an artwork can be everything that carries a meaning, a message for us. And an artist can be every person, who can communicate this meaning in any kind of way.