So What Makes it Art?

Posted: March 28, 2016 in Uncategorized

One of my blog viewers last year wrote this about what makes art to her.

I have heard so many different explanations on “what is art.” Some people say art is what provokes reaction, whether it is good or bad. Worst kind of art is what evokes no emotion. Why even exist.” I can’t say that I completely agree with that notion as there are some artists today that use “shock value” to make a name for themselves. I think that good art is something that inspires people or has a meaning to the viewer…whatever that meaning is.

I totally agree, if what we photograph doesn’t create a reaction or an emotion from the viewer it doesn’t do what the photo was intended to do. We judge what we think is art, but the fact is if a pretty picture causes people to react in a good way, than the photographer has created art in the eyes of the happy viewers.

In one of my blog posts I gave examples of people buying my images based on a connection to a subject in the image. This is the emotional part we’re talking about. When these people view the photo they got a good feeling.

If you’re a photographer trying to pay the bills with your photos, then I like what a painter told me,

“Good art is in the wallet of the beholder.”

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  1. jmlecocq says:

    I love it. Many years ago, when I was a kid…like maybe in the mid 60s…our family business was a really small community bank, run by my grandfather with my father as the exec-in-training, a sort of scruffy young man came into the office saying he wanted to open an account. He was shuttled over to my Dad who chatted with him a bit, starting with asking him what he did for a living…he said he was a painter. Dad queried whether he was a house painter or what….and he said he was an artist and he and his wife had just moved up to Whatcom County and he wanted to open an account. Well…Dad was so intrigued that he not only helped Leland Standley ( ) open an account but he came home after he closed up the bank (it was the end of the month so they had to “balance” the bank…this was before computers!) he got my brother and I out of bed and we drove out into the country to meet Leland and his wife and to see his art. Dad ended up having an exhibit of Leland’s work on the bank walls (it might have been his first exhibit…at least in a commercial setting). One of the tellers said the painting opposite her made her want to throw up. Leland was delighted. He said that a strong reaction was better than no reaction or a pallid one! BTW his current art is more spiritual and impressionistic than the early work we saw…much of which was really “hard edge” (including one of the inside of a woman’t bathroom…very monochromatic…dark grey stalls, stark white TP, empty, sterile……his explanation to my Dad being…”didn’t you always want to know what was in there?” There was another one of a woman in a window gazing over a gorgeous landscape…with this big blot of darkness that looked like it was in her line of sight….Dad asked what that was…and Leland’s response was “She doesn’t even see it, does she?” He’s quite the character…have lost touch except for a couple of interactions over the last couple years that were charming.


    Jan Janice M. LeCocq


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