Art is Subjective, Just Accept It

Image: Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

The Most recent episode of Syfy’s Face Off was a challenge to create living works of art based on various art movements. It got me to thinking about art and how subjective it all is.

Everyone has an opinion on art, even if they don’t know they do. Ask them what they think of various pieces and they’ll have something to say. Many people develop very strong opinions about certain types of art and certain artists. Find someone who’s really into art and it can get downright ugly.

There are a lot of art movements out there and a lot of artistic styles. You’ll like some and hate others. It’s all a matter of personal opinion. I happen to think most of the abstract movement is garbage that doesn’t qualify as art in my personal opinion. I’m allowed to have my opinion, but that doesn’t make me right. Some people adore abstract. People have their preferences and their opinions.

The key here is that our opinions are just our own feelings and not an actual reflection of the quality of the work produced, and don’t dictate whether the creator is a “real” artist or not. I don’t think making a house out of cheese is art, but some people do. It’s all subjective. The problem comes in when people try to impose their personal opinions on others and define what is “right” or “good”.

I find it bothersome that there are “art critics” who can make or break the career of an artist based on their own personal tastes. If a person is trying to fit into a particular style and is failing, a critique may be useful, but that doesn’t mean they’re doing bad art. If your expressionism looks more like cubism, that doesn’t make it bad, it just makes it outside the confines of a specific style. That could actually make it wonderful, and may be a sign of a brilliant artistic mind that’s exceeding the traditional boundaries.

I refuse to even try to put any of my own art under a label. I’m too eclectic. I use whatever works for what I’m trying to portray. Sadly, I’d be a hideous failure in the art world for my refusal to conform, but I’m fine with that. Some artists would be crushed and their gifts could be silenced by bad reviews and other’s opinions. That’s why people need to be careful crossing that line from “this is my opinion” into “I don’t like it, therefore it’s bad and you have no talent”.

In any realm, artistic or otherwise, we all need to remember that what we don’t like is not necessarily wrong or bad. We need to choose our words carefully and make it clear that our negative opinion is not a reflection on the other person. We also need to really understand that it is both hurtful and wrong to try to force other people to change over subjective issues. It’s like the radio: If you don’t like the song, turn the dial, don’t start a campaign bashing the singer for making music you don’t like.

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