As I walked into the Cornell Fine Arts Museum, I thought to myself, “What defines art?” I scanned through the exhibits, stopping to pay close attention to certain pieces but not to others.
I found myself wondering what it was about these pieces of art that captured my interest and why the rest of the art did not. That is how I answered my first question.
What defines art? Art is anything you can just look at or listen to and feel something. That is a very broad definition, but art is a very broad subject. What is art to some is scribble to others.
Art can take many forms (e.g. paintings, pictures, sculptures, music, films, dance, books, etc.) All of these forms have variety within themselves.
Some paintings are elegant and brimming with vibrant colors, while some are just a black background with a single light. Both of these are considered “art” because both sparked a reaction in somebody. Obviously, when people look at the vibrant colors of a work of art, they are dazzled by the physical beauty. However, when people see more abstract pieces, they see elements behind the looks. You see, beauty is more than ink-deep.
People like a challenge. It is in our nature. That is why some of the more abstract pieces (like those by Andy Warhol) have become so popular. This modern art is confusing and it takes time to gauge our own reactions to these pieces. The beauty of it is that everyone has a different reaction.
When you go to the Cornell Fine Arts Museum and see a picture of a pure blue background with one little lamppost, you may find peace in its simplicity. However, I thought it to be a picture that a 3-year-old probably drew.
Back in the day (from 600 B.C. to the Renaissance), art took time. Painters like Leonardo da Vinci meticulously measured every detail of their paintings. This could (and oft en did) take years. Now some of the paintings in museums look like they were done in 30 seconds by people having seizures with tubes of paint in their hands, in the vicinity of a canvas.
It is all art, though. Maybe people are just looking for something different in their art. The abstract modern art is definitely different from the skilled craft s of Michelangelo and other Renaissance artists, but innovation is beautiful in itself. At least, it is to some people.
Sometimes we observe art to get lost in the moment: absorbed into the scene of the music or the painting or whatever it is. Art can take you to another place. Some pictures of old diners from the ‘60s or legendary rock stars at the peak of their careers may take you back to that time period for a little while (even if it is only in your mind).
Art can sometimes serve to remind us of other times. Some art brings the observer back to simpler times, some reminds us of chaotic times, but all of the pictures from the ‘80s take us back to a period of gaudiness.
Most art sparks emotions. Art can scare you or it can calm you. Art can excite you or it can annoy you. Art can gross you out or it can turn you on (take the picture of Robert Plant in 1977 in which he holds an inflatable zeppelin in a phallic position, for example). Whatever the reaction is, that is the point of the art.
Of course, some art is meant to symbolize specific events or emotions, but our perceptions really define art. Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder, because if you do not get it, then it is not art to you. However, there is a piece of art in the Cornell Fine Arts Museum for everybody.
Go visit; see what you like and what you do not like, and discover the part of you that you forgot about or did not know was there. There are all sorts of neat exhibits, ranging from Sumerian sculptures to photos of music legends.
I did not “get” every piece (especially some of the “modern art” blurry pictures), but for the pieces that I did understand, I got lost in them. I want that experience for all Rollins students and faculty!