What is Art? (From the Blog of Carre d’Artistes)

I received this from the mailing list of Carre d’Artistes today and thought it worth sharing. I have added information about them after the Blog article, (translated from French.)

What is Art?

A vast question, when one mulls over the variety one can come across in museums! Often in modern art and contemporary institutions, the exhibits can often throw the most expert ones among us off balance. But if the definition of art has been stimulating philosophers since ancient times and right until today, it’s possible to set some bearings…

First of all, artwork is certainly man-made, with an intention. At times, this intention is part of a collective movement like the Impressionists, Surrealists or even Dadaists – who willingly go to meetings and exhibitions for the joint development of projects. Of course, other artists are solitary and don’t belong to any movement. However, they are the result of an era and a faithful reflection of the times – like contemporary artists who use and twist current digital tools to produce works.

This way, art can take all kinds of possible and imaginable forms, as it reflects the artists’ freedom of expression. It could be a painting which is three meters in width, a tiny bronze sculpture, a digital photo, an installation of found objects, not to mention a video, a performance or an insolent gesture. In 1958, the artist Yves Klein for example organized a completely empty exhibition, without any artwork. He triggered major scandal and this went down in the history of art!

Stravinsky Fountain, Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint Phalle

Another important aspect is the context. When Paul McCarthy established his work Tree (2014), a green inflatable sculpture 24 meters high in the Vendome square in Paris, some said it wasn’t art: they were mistaken, the status of art doesn’t lean on each person’s appreciation but certainly on the context – in this case an official exhibition, as part of the FIAC (Contemporary Art International Fair).

Tree, Paul McCarthy

Oscar Wilde best sums up the main quality of a work, in the preface of his book The Picture of Dorian Gray (1895): “All art is definitely useless”. To put it another way, a work only exists for its aesthetical and conceptual feature – not for any vital function. At times, it requires the creator to have expert technical knowledge (in painting, sculpture, drawing, embroidery, ceramics, metal working…) At times not – some artists lean on a simple or minimalist practice – like those who practice ready-made art like Marcel Duchamp, laying everyday objects in museum spaces to transform these into works of art through the simple force of intention. In short, art is always able to surprise us!

What is Carre d’Artistes?

As a young student at the Academy of Fine Arts, Stéphanie Tosi, co-creator of Carré d’artistes, always had a passion for art. After graduating from business school and working for several years as a sales director in an international company, she decided to embark on the ambitious project of Carré d’artistes .

In 2001, Carré d’artistes was born from the love of art, opening their first gallery in Aix-en-Provence. Since then, Carré d’artistes  has continued to develop with more than 30 contemporary art galleries in France and abroad.

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