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  #1  
Old 03-21-2003, 10:34 PM
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fritchie fritchie is offline
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Post Art contrasted with Craft

redrajah and Jarrod - This reply can do for both, and I thank you for your contributions to a stimulating discussion. I agree with Jarrod that this kind of forum can be very stimulating, educational, and sculpturally rewarding.

What we may be discussing here is often described as the distinction between art and craft. Artists, at least according to endowed opinion, think more about their work and make more of a conscious attempt at communication; craftspersons are more concerned with direct expression of a sculptural concept (sculptural in deference to this forum), without necessarily wanting to say more than the work itself contains. Always remember that any sculptural work is symbolic and open to many readings, according to the viewer’s background and perceptiveness.
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Old 04-11-2003, 06:10 AM
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Re: Art contrasted with Craft

Quote:
Originally posted by fritchie
redrajah and Jarrod - This reply can do for both, and I thank you for your contributions to a stimulating discussion. I agree with Jarrod that this kind of forum can be very stimulating, educational, and sculpturally rewarding.

What we may be discussing here is often described as the distinction between art and craft. Artists, at least according to endowed opinion, think more about their work and make more of a conscious attempt at communication; craftspersons are more concerned with direct expression of a sculptural concept (sculptural in deference to this forum), without necessarily wanting to say more than the work itself contains. Always remember that any sculptural work is symbolic and open to many readings, according to the viewer’s background and perceptiveness.

while there are clear differences between practioners of a process and that of the art, the question becomes blurred when the focus of making art rests soley within the process itself.

specifically, what results will occur given certain factors guided by the practitioner.
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Old 04-13-2003, 01:16 PM
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the artists i know are more prone to experimentation. they are more likely to break things and less likely to know the end object before it has arrived. the craftsmen i know are usually the ones to turn accidents into "techniques" and to perfect them. they are more likely to fix things and to know exactly what the object will look like before it arrives.

i think it takes fair bits of both to be great at either and the difference between the two is in the proportions.
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Old 04-14-2003, 10:08 AM
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Its a shame we have so few words to describe these practices, and the ones we do mislead. As makers of either art or craft we tend to look at ourselves, our intentions and the things we make too much, the distinction perhaps has more to do with the world or market these objects are launched into.

Art is arguably an enquiring, questioning, communicating tool. Different fields of arts practice engage in dialogue with different individuals or groups. It can play to a crowd (like public art) to your peers or to just one person.

I feel that one thing that unifies a lot of craft practice is seduction. Craft objects want you to want them, take them home and treasure them, live with them. It think there can still be elements of communication, but interestingly I think these lived with objects have a fantastically long time to let that dialogue run.

Art objects perhaps aim firstly to move you, they might do that through being fearful, dark, even offensive. They might do that by being lovely, beautiful and seductive in just the same way as craft.

This seduction sells and and the two fields move closest together, and become confused, at the most successfully commercial end of each field.

But if only we had better words to define all this, destinguishing between sugar craft, trades and crafts such as bricklaying and traditional and contemporary fine craft. I've never been keen on the term 'applied art', I think Craft is un-applied design (in a good way). I think most Public Art practice would be an example of applying art
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Old 04-26-2003, 01:13 AM
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At the highest level, is it not possible for a work to be both craft and art at the same time? I think both sides like to separate themselves from the other due more to their own fear and/or misunderstanding than is necessary.

Perhaps some craftists do not stretch themselves and their work becauce they fear they are unqualified; that creativity is the provence of the true artist. They fear their work being judged to the highest standards of human creation, and the failure that is inevitable. So they remain where it is comfortable and people "like" and understand them more.

Perhaps some artists do not devote enough time to the technical execution of their work because they prefer to bask in the "artiness" of sloppy work; believing carelessness is next to godliness, a form of professional jargon used to exclude those not cool enough to "get it". Why would they want to put time into forming an object well? They are not a mere laboror, they are a great and insightful Artist!


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Old 04-26-2003, 05:39 AM
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I suppose craft skills are a tool you can either choose to use or not, it depends on what or who your are art is targeted at, as above, if you are making art for someone to own, possibly for the rest of their life, a highly skilled execusion of the work will help the work endure and be enjoyed. In the public realm the tools you need ate often more closely allied with engineering. However if your making work for an audeince of peers and critics the work doesn't need to endure for much longer than they are looking at it. Its the idea, not the object they will take away with them. I suppose in these cases you don't want their awe at your skillfull execution of the work to obscure their reading of the ideas.

Its a case of selecting an appropriate tool for the job
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Old 04-26-2003, 10:14 AM
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You are assuming that "art" is simply about ideas. I disagree. That is called philosophy, which is also a fine and noble pursuit, but it is not a visual art.

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Old 04-26-2003, 10:21 AM
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'idea' was probably the wrong word, I suppose with art you are either looking for empathy with or from your viewer, or perhaps change them and their view a little.
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Old 04-27-2003, 07:51 AM
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Forgive me. I have just skimmed the above posts... but I wanted to reply.

I think - and it was restated by a friend today - that where art and craft diverge is mainly in the intent, and the element of risk or exploration taken.

In craft, you start with a firm idea of the outcome. You take proven steps.

In art, you dive in. Sink or swim. It's a personal journey.

They overlap. And maybe neither betters the other.
But I'm an artist, and it is my practice, and not my craft.

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Old 04-27-2003, 01:03 PM
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I think craft is more about a set of traditional skills/techniques than outcomes. Craft tends to be very creative within a very small range, but it does not step out of those self-imposed boundaries. While technique influences the outcome, it does not determine it. The same skills that led to Eames-like wall-art was used by Roszak and Lipton to create great sculptures. Therefore, there are aesthetic choices being made by the craftist.

I think the separation of art and craft is a recent notion. Since he keeps popping up here, I will point to Michelangelo's David as an example of a work done with impeccable craft yet simultaneously a work of high art. Yes, there is incredibly dreary, pitiful craft done in the world. But bad work is not exlusive to craft. Much "art" I see is wretched as well. It is entirely possible for the craftist to undertake a work without full knowledge of the outcome (reacting to the wood grain, the sag of the clay) while the artist may know exactly what effect they are after. Perhaps this self-counciousness of work is analogous to clumsy, ponderous craft.

I think both sides could improve the quality of their work by seeing what they could learn from the other.


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  #11  
Old 04-27-2003, 01:31 PM
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Quote:
They overlap. And maybe neither betters the other.
But I'm an artist, and it is my practice, and not my craft.
I know of an incredible potter who refers to his work as his "practice." I happen to take pride in the "craft" of my work. Perhaps the muddled nature of our language regarding this distinction points to their fundamental relation.

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Old 04-27-2003, 11:19 PM
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Art/Craft

So glad someone else used the word 'muddled'!
The Clear as Mud philosophy about all this is that you can craft a life to make art, but can you art a life to make craft?
The crafting of my 'life' has led to the production of these objects that others consider Art.
I guess the question is also one of utility, but 'use' can also refer to the practicality of using form to communicate visual information that cannot easily be translated into words or other mediums.
When a sculpture stops someone in their tracks - I know it's not craft.
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Old 04-28-2003, 12:02 AM
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I think you must have infultrated my subconscious Benny, I didn't even realize I used it!

I like that:
Quote:
When a sculpture stops someone in their tracks - I know it's not craft.
Perhaps that clarifies a bit my thoughts on Ron Mueck's sculpture. His photo-realistic sculpture displays a high level of craft, yet most would agree he is an artist, not a craftist. I was wondering why that is. Perhaps it is because a 16' crouching boy stops us in our tracks? It still isn't perfectly clear to me, but that helps a bit.

Still, some that is considered "craft" stops me dead while some that is considered "art" makes me want to pass by even quicker.

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Old 04-28-2003, 02:30 AM
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one of these is art the other is craft. hmmmm....
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  #15  
Old 04-28-2003, 04:11 AM
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Re: Art/Craft

Quote:
Originally posted by benny



When a sculpture stops someone in their tracks - I know it's not craft.
Regards
Benny



i have to respectfully disagree here....

perhaps this might emerge to be more of an issue with the semantics of the spectator but i can recall several instances where i have been more enamored with the exectuion of matter; specifially, the "why" of the object rather than the consequence of the object itself....



great thread...!
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Old 04-28-2003, 04:24 AM
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Thumbs up if i may, redrajah

"it is never enough to simply make a well crafted representation of the human form, no matter your love for it. your gift is one of communication and there is always so much to say, consciously or otherwise. great work, whether it is figurative or not speaks for it's time and place, it lends new insights into old mysteries, captures a time's collective conscience and opens the doors of discovery. art is simply a record of your experiences and if your experiences are slim then you can expect no more from your work. the greeks did love the human form they said it so well in the sculpture they made. the renaissance man fancied himself as the absolute epicenter of the universe and michelangelo said it succinctly in his david, there stands man in all his beauty, in all his ugliness. the agony of human pathos was never better expressed than by rodin and it is painfully obvious in every thumbstroke. good craft, anatomy and techniques can never be more than points of departure. from there you have to give of yourself and of what you think and how you feel. you have to take risks, to push further than you think possible and to fail mightily. but to be so turned on and so open to what drives you that it doesn't even matter."

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
a "note to self" from redrajah's website...


well said
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Old 04-28-2003, 09:59 PM
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Art, Craft, and Creativity

I have to apologize for not being on this forum for awhile. I somehow got sidetracked with others. The following comments are a little out of place at this particular point, but that’s inevitable with a linear format. Please bear with me.

I started one of the first conversations because of a post by Jarrod which I took as critical of figurative sculptors in which he said, as I understood, that many are unoriginal, repeating the same forms over and over. Of course, I agree that that is true, but it’s also true of nonrepresentational sculptors. It’s just harder to divine in nonrepresentational work, because a person can rearrange elements endlessly and call each piece “new”. If you rearrange the limbs, say, on a figure, you will be considered either misanthropic or avant garde, but there’s a limit to how far even that can go.

I converted his comment into the artist vs. craftsperson debate to focus on the place of originality in sculpture. I do think most people view the division as hierarchic, with artist on top, but these conversations show that that is too narrow a view. I particularly like gordonrogers’ insight that the goal of craft is seduction. That needs a place in almost all art.

Many may not know that Michelangelo is given credit, at least among some art historians, for defining sculpture as an art. A biography I read long ago says that in his childhood, sculptors were considered “mere” stonecutters, but that he was recognized immediately as one of the world’s great geniuses, and his work as among the highest art. This biography also said something along the lines that he was the world’s first art “personality”, the “divine” Michelangelo.

Last edited by fritchie : 04-29-2003 at 10:51 PM.
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Old 04-29-2003, 08:00 PM
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Craft

The whole debate about art and craft is so indefinite, it will go on around us forever simply because those two words exist. The polarity of these fields leaves them so alienated from each other we may as well rename them 'stuff' and 'bother' It all leads to those of us who can't see any real distinction in our own lives between the two - deciding to be neither 'artist' or 'craftpersons' but professional muddlers. Theoretically it's in the wording: - that if you do craft, you're a craft person - If you do art, you're an ist. It's a choice of being an average Joe or an ism unto yourself I guess. Mind the gap, it could be infinity itself.
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Old 04-29-2003, 10:54 PM
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Words

I think you and I are on similar tracks. See my new thread, Ex nihila.
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Old 05-04-2003, 11:31 PM
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Methinks the answer is in the beholder.

If they see craft, then it is craft. If art, then it is art. After all, many look at a sculptor's hard work and shrug; then, is it anything? To that viwer, no.

On the other hand, a perfectly executed bowl might move a person to tears ... stop them in their tracks, to quote a post above. Is that bowl craft, as traditionally defined? Or is it more? To that viewer, it might be art.

Defining our own work is risky. To paraphrash DuChamp ... the viewer completes the work.

PA
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Old 05-14-2003, 02:53 PM
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I find it odd that great artistic painters need to learn their colour craft and writers need to learn their literary craft.

Why then do sculptors not need to learn their medium's craft?

You don't need to be an expert craftsman to creat art, but some competancy should play a part. How many of us have seen a "stick in the mud" sculpture beat out a masterfully manipulated medium worked into creative insight?

Sometimes a stick in the mud is just a stick in the mud. Sometimes we and others don't know what we are looking at.
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Old 05-14-2003, 09:57 PM
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Craft and creativity

Where did William Faulkner and James Joyce learn to write, or for that matter, where did William Shakespeare get his vocabulary? The first two invented new writing styles, and W. S. came close to doubling the existing English vocabulary. These people created something essentially from nothing, through their personal gifts.

That’s the danger in emphasizing craft over creativity. Few can see greatness at first sight, so we judge at our own risk, and risk to the future.
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Old 05-15-2003, 07:19 AM
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Exclamation blue dot syndrome

Quote:
Originally posted by fritchie


That’s the danger in emphasizing craft over creativity. Few can see greatness at first sight, so we judge at our own risk, and risk to the future.


I was at the LA County Museum of Art this past weekend and came across an installation roughly entitled, "blue dot painted on masonite."


Yes, this was a blue dot painted on a white masonite background.
I do not recall the artist statement verbatim but it alluded to being respresentative of some, "pre-adolescent, emotional struggle."

Needless to say, I moved past this piece quickly.


Why does art that exhibits an exeedingly lower level of craft recieve accolades and museum space upon the point that the artist deems it as an "emotional outpouring."


It seems to me, looking at this blue dot, that both craft and dynamics were/are not a priority to the artist, rather, a more expedient means of conveying whatever the message(s) might be.

This sounds harsh, I but I find difficulty in looming over a piece that in essence says to me as a spectator,

"I created this in 4.25 minutes and it represents my sadness/struggle/happiness/saving the trees/etc., ad naseum."


Thoughts?
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Old 05-15-2003, 12:54 PM
Aurora Aurora is offline
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Fritchie Hi!

All writers must first learn to pick up a pen and write. As a writer myself, I learn the language first and then manipulated the words. A wrong word leads to a wrong mental picture. Rules can and do get broken, but first you need the ABC's.

Obseq Hi, too!

It makes you wonder if the artist statement is the artwork. Seems unfair to call out sculptors and painters and then judge it on literary effectiveness. I've been burned by this practice. (Someone baked a cake, iced it orange and presented it) Has anyone else?
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Old 05-15-2003, 10:59 PM
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Sculpture, writing, and craft

Aurora - I've done a bit of writing too, but probably not the same as you. For 30+ years I was a university faculty member and researcher, and published scientific papers. Talk about critical reviewers and editors!

Actually, I also was a section associate editor for a chemistry journal fora couple of years, but that proved too much of a conflict with other activities, so it went by the wayside. I do love to play with language.

I agree that you need to learn basic language to express yourself, and you then can move on to better things, but I’m afraid many artists, and the public at large, see craft first and originality second. I think that cheapens art and is a societal danger.
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