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  #1  
Old 06-04-2007, 07:06 PM
cooljamesx1 cooljamesx1 is offline
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"fine" art

here's one for you guys.

how useful does something have to be before it is no longer "fine art"?
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  #2  
Old 06-04-2007, 07:33 PM
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fritchie fritchie is offline
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Re: "fine" art

I find great use in fine art.
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  #3  
Old 06-04-2007, 07:39 PM
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evaldart evaldart is offline
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Re: "fine" art

This thread might cause volumes of discourse about the differences and samenesses between "fine" and "functional" art, and some might come from me. But I predict already that Fritchie's above post will say it best.
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  #4  
Old 06-04-2007, 09:03 PM
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StevenW StevenW is offline
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Re: "fine" art

Or how about as useful as a knife in a gunfight.

Sorry, had to rethink this.
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  #5  
Old 06-05-2007, 12:26 AM
cooljamesx1 cooljamesx1 is offline
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Re: "fine" art

at first thought I get the impression that a fitting defenition of fine art is that it has no use. that of course doesn't mean that functional art is any less beautiful, but functionality seems to detract somehow.
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  #6  
Old 06-05-2007, 12:28 AM
cooljamesx1 cooljamesx1 is offline
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Re: "fine" art

Quote:
Originally Posted by fritchie
I find great use in fine art.
according to my economics textbook, all art of any "value" has "utility", by definition. whatever that means. haha.
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  #7  
Old 06-05-2007, 06:40 PM
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fritchie fritchie is offline
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Re: "fine" art

I didn't mean to run your thread in circles, but all of this is a matter of opinion, of course. I have had, over the years, very functional things I would call art - mostly of Scandinavian design. Examples: chairs made largely of shaped and beautifully stained wood, with leather or woven fabric covering; a cotton bedspread of about three distinct shade of blue, in bold abstract patterns I still use; stainless steel knives; crystal bottles and/or vases. On and on.
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  #8  
Old 06-05-2007, 08:03 PM
nero nero is offline
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Re: "fine" art

perhaps confusing function with utility..the form follows function dictum has produced some of the most beautiful utilitarian objects. fine art has a more esoteric function, cultural, social,emotional,political,philosophical,intellect ual,visual,poetical,spiritual etc.
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  #9  
Old 06-05-2007, 11:26 PM
AKady AKady is offline
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Re: "fine" art

I have a question for everyone.

Does the material of a piece dictate whether or not it is fine art?
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  #10  
Old 06-06-2007, 06:11 AM
nero nero is offline
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Re: "fine" art

the material is implicated in the process, as is the artist and the viewer....
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  #11  
Old 06-06-2007, 06:50 AM
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Merlion Merlion is offline
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Re: "fine" art

There is a detailed write-up in Wikipedia on 'fine art'.

Fine art refers to arts that are concerned with a limited number of visual and performing art forms, including painting, sculpture, dance, theatre, architecture and printmaking. Schools, institutes, and other organizations still use the term to indicate a traditional perspective on the art forms, often implying an association with classic or academic art.

The word "fine" does not so much denote the quality of the artwork in question, but the purity of the discipline. This definition tends to exclude visual art forms that could be considered craftwork or applied art, such as textiles. The more recent term visual arts is widely considered to be a more inclusive and descriptive phrase for today's variety of current art practices, and for the multitude of mediums in which high art is now more widely recognized to occur. Ultimately, the term fine in 'fine art' comes from the concept of Final Cause, or purpose, or end, in the philosophy of Aristotle. The Final Cause of fine art is the art object itself; it is not a means to another end except perhaps to please those who behold it....

That fine art is seen as being distinct from applied arts is largely the result of an issue raised in Britain by the conflict between the followers of the Arts and Crafts Movement, including William Morris, and the early modernists, including Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group. The former sought to bring socialist principles to bear on the arts by including the more commonplace crafts of the masses within the realm of the arts, while the modernists sought to keep artistic endeavour exclusive, esoteric, and elitist.....
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  #12  
Old 06-06-2007, 07:07 AM
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Re: "fine" art

This debate has much to do with the debate between art and craft. Craft yielding the beautifully utilitarian and Art perched purely for regarding.

Artists like to blur boundaries but if it is a vessel or furniture it is not fine art - if you can wear it or sleep warm beneath it, it is not fine art. But if you remove the function, say make a chair that cannot be sat in, it IS fine art. if it is a quilt for the wall to be seen like a painting, it IS fine art, But if it is an 800lb chainsaw sculpture of an american eagle or Paul Bunyan it is NOT fine art.

Last edited by evaldart : 06-06-2007 at 10:40 AM.
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  #13  
Old 06-06-2007, 10:26 AM
ironman ironman is offline
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Re: "fine" art

Hi, Thanks Evaldart. I'd like to use ceramics as an example of the difference between fine art and craft.
I generally don't consider people making cups, saucers, plates, bowls and vases to be fine artists. They are Craftspeople, even the best of them.
Yet, many (misguided) people consider them artists.
There are ceramicists who are fine artists, the late Robert Arneson and Peter Voulkos are 2 examples and Jun Kaneko is another.
So, my general take on this debate is that if it's first reason for being is functional, it's craft.
If it's first reason for being is of a singular personal expressive nature, it's art.
Functionality of any sort always makes the work subject to an interpretation as craft, not art.
Then there's Dale Chihuly who I think of as a decorative artist/craftsperson, at best!
Finally, if you can eat M&M's out of it or drink "Night Train Express" out of it, it's craft, not art.
Have a great day,
Jeff
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  #14  
Old 06-06-2007, 10:44 AM
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Re: "fine" art

Great post ironman. You gave me a shiver when you mentioned Night Train Express. Recalled a couple of rough mornings from my youth.
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  #15  
Old 06-06-2007, 10:46 AM
ironman ironman is offline
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Re: "fine" art

Hi Evaldart, You mean you still don't drink it? ROTFLMAO!
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  #16  
Old 06-06-2007, 11:46 AM
Harryman Harryman is offline
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Re: "fine" art

I am always amused by such discussions. There never seems to be a resolution but it's interesting to see the positions people take.

I agree that much of the debate centers around the definitions of Craft and Fine Art. There is much blurring between the two in my opinion, most Fine art requires a high level of craftsmanship to produce and most high quality Craft requires a similar level of creativity as Fine art.

It seems simplistic to only define the two by whether they fufill a function or not. Is jewelry a Craft or a Fine art? Aside from wedding rings most jewelry doesn't really have a function. Is it created to fufill the emotional desire of the maker? Sometimes, sometimes just to seperate the consumer from their money. The same could be said for many pieces of Fine art.

I have a friend who's an excellent landscape painter, been painting for decades. When he lived in California, he painted several pieces to be used as wine labels, alll at the same level of quality as his paintings normally sold in galleries. Would the commissioned originals for the labels be Craft because they were painted to fufill a function or just the labels themselves?

Whos to say who qualifies for being called an artist? Do you have to have an MFA? Does some group have to annoint you?

Does any of this really matter?

I'm of the opinion that if you want to label yourself an Artist or Craftsperson go right ahead. If you can get your jollies creating whatever is your hearts desire and manage to make a living at it, you're living the dream. I don't think either the title Artist/Fine Art or Crafstman/Craft necessarily connotates a higher quality piece, only your work is the proof.
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  #17  
Old 06-06-2007, 02:11 PM
cooljamesx1 cooljamesx1 is offline
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Re: "fine" art

functionality is a limitation. just like the size of your canvas, the size of the stone or clay you can afford or how small your tools are. so eliminating function is eliminating some limitations.

but many ceramic teachers I know would be pissed if they read this thread
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  #18  
Old 06-06-2007, 02:20 PM
cooljamesx1 cooljamesx1 is offline
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Re: "fine" art

Quote:
Originally Posted by Harryman
I'm of the opinion that if you want to label yourself an Artist or Craftsperson go right ahead. If you can get your jollies creating whatever is your hearts desire and manage to make a living at it, you're living the dream. I don't think either the title Artist/Fine Art or Crafstman/Craft necessarily connotates a higher quality piece, only your work is the proof.
I don't think this discussion is not as pointless as the words 'craft' or 'fine art', it is about the meaning behind the words, and "Fine art" absolutely has the connotation of higher quality than the word "craft" does. in fact it's got the word "fine" in it. everything we say is pointless if you separate the word from it's meaning and connotation. it is true that it doesn't REALLY matter in the big picture, maybe the only thing that matters is how much you sell. but wouldn't you be a little mad if people called you a craftsman and called everyone else here fine artists?
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  #19  
Old 06-06-2007, 06:38 PM
Harryman Harryman is offline
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Re: "fine" art

I'd actually be happy to be called a Craftsman, I'd be glad someone appreciated the skill and knowledge that goes into my work. It's great if someone appreciates it at all really.

I guess it depends on if you consider Craftsman and Artist to be labels or titles. A label is more descriptive of what you do but a title is more descriptive of who you think you are or wish to be. Titles are fine, but whether they are self appointed or not, the attitude of many with them is: I'm a (fill in blank with your choice of title) and you're not. Very exclusionary, we in the art world should be inclusionary.

I've had a foot in both the Crafts and Fine Art world for 20 years and I agree that there is a connotation that "Fine Art" is superior to "Crafts", I just don't agree it's automatically so. I've found there's equal talent in each field and just as much junk too. I consider the phrase "Fine Art" like "New and improved", the proof is in the work, not in what you call it.

It's funny that the "Artist" and "Craftsman" connotations are reversed, you know the "flakey, self destructive, genius, Artist type" as opposed to the "stoic, careful, high quality Craftsman". Neither turn out to be too true.

I'm not sure when this split in describing the creative arts occured, I'm not an art historian, but I know many of the great Renaissance masters were highly skilled and practiced in many; Painting, fresco, sculpture, casting, architecture, engineering etc. Who knows what they called themselves, but who cares? Look at what they accomplished.
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  #20  
Old 06-06-2007, 07:33 PM
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Re: "fine" art

My personal experience. I will admit (somewhat grudgingly) to having made a better living from functional art than fine art, but I have never felt like a craftsman. Technique has been a lower priority. My methods have been purposely dis-attuned to my mediums' sensitivities. I have usually forsaken the activity for the action, always being interested in the things that happen just on the wrong side if control. And a great craftsman is one who exhibits great control over his processes and his material. Not me.
But I have, nevertheless, enjoyed successes by virtue of the odd place I have occupied and I always look to the "fine" art to inform and advance me.
Simply put, the functional stuff is easier. The big-dummy can do it on auto-pilot, and without even being whipped. But that "fine" stuff requires everyone to be up for the battle (body, mind, spirit etc.), charged and adrenalined by the wonder of just what in the hell its going to look like when its done.
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  #21  
Old 06-06-2007, 07:52 PM
nero nero is offline
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Re: "fine" art

sorry to post a whingeing reply but...i dont know how many times i have had the converation with craftspeople, " why is your stuff Art and mine isnt" potters jewelers woodturners etc. they often have a product (say a pottery cup) which is beautiful in every respect, it is reproduced with no limit. mostly the craftsperson has several reatil outlets, who buy directly from them!

so here is a working definition; if it is made in unlimited numbers and sold at wholesale rates it probably isnt fine art.
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  #22  
Old 06-06-2007, 08:32 PM
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Re: "fine" art

I'll just refer to my posts 2 and 7 rather than quote them and others' later posts. Some of the vases I have (Danish, I think, but I really forget) are so heavy and thick, with such small openings you couldn't get more than about 1 flower in them if used as a traditional vase. It's true everything else I mentioned has a traditional, non-art functionality.

But isn't looking at a painting, print or other 2D work on a wall a "use". Or studying a sculpture? It's just a more sophisticated use than typically found. Of course, I realise that this discussion, at root, is about language and the meaning of words, and we've had that discussion here several times before. Man often is distinguished from other creatures as "the user of language". But, there too, chimpanzees and other animals use vocalizations, or gestures (sign language, as for the deaf, anyone?) with meanings that are well understood within their local groups, but which may have different meanings to other bands of the same chimps.

And, if the distinguishing factor is intent, the "intent of the artist", or simply self-expression, how does quality enter consideration? Is everything anyone makes with the intent that it be art, really art?
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  #23  
Old 06-06-2007, 09:39 PM
Harryman Harryman is offline
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Re: "fine" art

I'm with you Fritchie, if the creator of the piece is trying to make art, and they think they've succeeded, then it's art. I may respond to it and like it, I may respect their technique, I may admire their supreme control of their medium, I may praise their couragesness in rejecting that control, I may hate it, I may find it boring and simple, but if they call it art, I'll agree.

If "Fine Art" is a label indicating a level of quality above other examples of art then who decides? Art is a personal experience so I don't how a line can be drawn that deliniates Fine Art from Art. Different individuals will have differing experiences when exposed to the same piece. I think it's up to the individual to decide if it truely is "fine" Art.

I don't think it matters if an item sells at wholesale or retail or sells at all. Monetary value doesn't equal artistic value.

How many editions of a sculpture are too many and how would that effect it's artistic value?

As far as a function, I agree, all art has a function, some are just more subtle than others.

Referring back to the Wikipedia definition of Fine Art, check out the last couple of lines:

"That fine art is seen as being distinct from applied arts is largely the result of an issue raised in Britain by the conflict between the followers of the Arts and Crafts Movement, including William Morris, and the early modernists, including Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group. The former sought to bring socialist principles to bear on the arts by including the more commonplace crafts of the masses within the realm of the arts, while the modernists sought to keep artistic endeavour exclusive, esoteric, and elitist."

The bold is mine. I love that "exclusive, esoteric and elitist", hmmm, that'll look great in my next brochure! LOL
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  #24  
Old 06-07-2007, 12:12 AM
frozenimage frozenimage is offline
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Re: "fine" art

REALLY interesting topic. In the early days, sculptors were just fairly well paid craftsmen. This was before the superstar era. 15 minutes of shame...

What I have been thinking, lately, is that if you create a work, sculpt, cast display it....and it makes a positive major impact, on WHATEVER level, it is fine, even though it might not be refined. Note I say positive. Negative images have a place, generally for protest. And the lines are not clear.

Fine is not easily de-fined. Beauty in the eye of the beholder? I think that works which are sculpted, worked, researched, cast, using the finest materials available for future viewing have their particular advantages, but who is to say that a heart felt work by a primitive tribal member wrought of clay collected by a river bank is not......fabulous?

Ability to produce, and obviously working in a condusive environment is a major topic. How many of you have been in a working situation where your significant other was at your throat, for doing sculpture?

Fine art denotes permanence....and a good basic premise for doing the work in the first place. If you have no premise, why make it permanent?

Toodlepips,
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  #25  
Old 06-07-2007, 10:56 AM
ironman ironman is offline
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Re: "fine" art

Hi, first of all cooljamesx1, those pissed off ceramics teachers you speak about should take a good look at what they do, throw pots, and they call that art? Are they kidding?
I'm F-ing pissed off that they consider themselves artists at all!!!!!!
Harryman, I hate to clue you in but fine art does not require a high level of craftsmanship to produce.
The "fine" in fine arts has nothing to do with the quality of the product in the sense of the way it's made. It has everything to do with the feelings it provokes, the questions it either asks or tries to answer or the paradigm shift to a new way of looking at some part of the world. In short, it is about the creativity of the work and how it influences you.
When we look back at all the great artists of rennaisance italy, are any of them known for throwing pots? NO! Artists change the world, potters don't.
Don't get me wrong, there are some great craftspeople doing great stuff and there seems to be a blurring of that art/craft line.
Now we're getting back to my argument with Joe~ about "intent" and I said that if someone intends something to be art, it is art! This has nothing to do with quality.
Harryman, your last post (#23) is right on the money.
Frozenimage, If you are not in an environment, condusive to making art and you are passionate about your art, CHANGE YOUR ENVIRONMENT. I realize that it's really none of my business, but at 60 and having been there, done that, as far as a non-supportive spouse is concerned, I divorced mine.
Have a great day,
Jeff
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