What Is Art?
Start writing a post

My “Art of the Andes” course last semester focused on one question: What is art? We read numerous scholarly articles and compared the artistic value of everything from the Cotton Pre-Ceramic Chinchorro mummies to the Early Colonial Wooden Qero. It was not until studying for the final and recalling everything I had learned in the class that I realized I still did not have a conclusive answer to the question. I found myself asking the same question when I was reading about the art dealer who sold fake art supposedly from famous artists to the Gaston & Sheehan auction house in Texas. Over 15 years she sold fakes that she claimed were created by artists such as Rothko and Pollock.

What shocks me the most is that people trained to know famous art and its value were unable to recognize the works as fraudulent. It makes me question whether people regarded the works as art because of their supposed creator, or if the works are recognized for their value in the art world. The mishap, which occurred in 2013, is relevant again because Rosales’ own works are now up for auction; however, the works are not identified as her works. This suggests that the auctioneers think the art can stand alone without the creator’s status, or notoriety in Rosales’ case, increasing its value. This is different from the other pieces that she copied, which relied on the famous signature to make them have so much monetary value. Are the counterfeit pieces considered art if they have false origins. Maybe their artistic value lies in the fact that Rosales could replicate it to the fact that everyone believed her, thus provoking us to discredit the claim that “seeing is believing.”

The counterfeit works came with paperwork, so no one had a reason to question their authenticity. The appraisers simply put a monetary value to it. Does this mean that the works’ values come from the artist or the aesthetics and process of the work? It makes us wonder who ultimately decides which artists become famous, whether it’s because of their innovation or their craftsmanship. How can Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling possibly be compared with Whistler’s Nocturne in Black and Gold? The former took four years to paint while the latter could have been completed in one sitting. Time and effort do not define art, but what does?

So, what is art? Where does it get its value? Will we ever have an answer to that question, or will it forever be a topic we avoid answering completely? When I see a Rothko work in a museum I think about how I could have done that with my eyes closed, but why is he famous? It might be because someone important decided his art held value, or because of the historical context of his works, or because of his thought process behind the piece. Regardless of the reason, there is something that connects the Venus of Willendorf to Duchamp’s Fountain, but until we have a clear notion of what they have in common, we just have to accept that they are two examples of art.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Student Life

20 Things I Learned By The Start of My 20s

No one expects you to have your life together by the time you're 20, because honestly, they didn't either.

Allyson Foutty

We are all often faced with many life challenges throughout the time leading up to our 20s. Before this time, and throughout it, we often look back at the things we've learned and how they've influenced who we are as people today. Some of my biggest influences were some of the challenges I've faced, but they've taught me 20 important things by the start of my 20s.

Keep Reading... Show less

The Boyfriend Recipe

The ingredients to build a relationship are a little more complicated than just a bouquet of flowers and a box of candy.


Relationships. Long distance or not, significant others are much more than just that. I would be lying if I said I did not love the sweet gestures that only a boyfriend can give. The flowers, funny phone calls, hand holding, breakfast dates, and tight hugs are special but my relationship and many others out there exist on much more than just these little gestures. It is a tricky concoction that consists of one part boyfriend and two parts best friend and would not work without one part or the other. While having a relationship may not be quite as easy as baking a batch of cookies, it has its own recipe (with a few variations for flavor) to follow for a good match.

Keep Reading... Show less
google images

Fashion just keeps growing and changing and old trends are made new! Now, I'm no beauty guru, just a beauty guru wannabe, but personally I have compiled some stylish wardrobe must haves! These can be cute assets to go back to school or just to catch up on some of the latest trends...

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

There's More To A Relationship Than Netflix

Summertime is only 93 days of the year, Find something to do!

Tallie Ammar

Summertime is ideal for more than just hanging out and binging your favorite TV series with your friends. Although summer does bring rain and thunderstorms which is perfect for those binging days, take advantage of those nice and sunny days. There is so many opportunities to get out of the house and enjoy the season before the snow starts to come back. Here are 25 interesting dates that are doable almost anywhere for any age.

Keep Reading... Show less
Leilani Encarnacion

Philadelphia has its beauty, but some of you may have not been to some of the most beautiful hidden spots in the city. This summer is a chance for new adventures and exploring, so here are a few places that I highly recommend you should visit at least once.

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments