Merriam Webster Dictionary defines art as ‘something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings’. But is all art created equal? What constitutes ‘good’ art? Is it simply in the eye of the beholder? Or is there a set of characteristics by which a piece of art is judged and deemed to be good or bad? I think there are some qualities that all ‘good’ art has in common. Here are a few tips for helping you view art with a discerning eye.

1)     The skill of the artist and quality of the piece is important but it is also one of the hardest things to judge, especially for a novice collector. A few things to look at are design, composition and technique. Compare artists in the same medium. Compare how the works by the different artists measure up to each other. Then look at all the pieces by one artist. Some will certainly stand out. Finally, look at the individual piece and look at its consistency. The ones that are more cohesive will probably be the better pieces.

2)     Meaning and beauty are important aspects of good art. They are not mutually exclusive, both or either may be present. They are crucial as these aspects evoke emotional responses, challenge ideas, make cultural and societal statements or simply appeal to our senses.  

3)     Although it is often said that the intended meaning of a piece of art is up to the perceptions of the viewer, I believe that good art clearly expresses the intent of the artist who created it. This may be as simple as to portray a subject accurately or it may be more conceptual and ethereal. In either case, the piece of art should always say what an artist intended when he created it.

4)     Originality and creativity are paramount to defining a piece of art as good.  A good piece of art explores wholly new subjects or reiterates old ones in a way that is unique and hasn't been done before.


December 20, 2013

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