This definition is extremely broad; no boundaries that warp the perspective; Art does not have to only fit within a narrow definition of paint from a tube placed on canvas. One can see the beauty and potential in a piece of ‘found art ‘ like a piece of burnt wood or a rusted piece of steel. Though it can be considered that art must constrict to the confines of concept, aesthetic features, technique or whether it is showcased in an art gallery, it’s impossible to limit the range of works ‘allowed’ to be labelled under the definition of “art”, when the definition itself claims aesthetics as the main variable. Aesthetics is “…the branch of philosophy dealing with such notions as the beautiful, the ugly, the sublime, the comic, etc., as applicable to the fine arts, with a view to establishing the meaning and validity of critical judgments concerning works of art, and the principles underlying or justifying such judgments.” With this in mind, a new definition of art should be considered. Arts such as Guillermo Vargas ‘Exposicion No1’ cannot be refused the title of art due to the argument of ethics, when the principles of art depend on the artist’s perspective. We cannot pick and choose definitions to suit your values; under these guidelines Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’ or Andy Goldsworthy’s ‘Magical Land Art Exhibition’ cannot be defined as “art”.
Arts that do not fit the ‘norm’, that aren’t beautiful works or historical pieces that are distasteful to a certain person could be the epitome of art to another. Everything can be art, and anything can be an ingredient for art The fundamentals of art are built on millions of years of historical showcases of expression through visual mediums such as the hieroglyphs of ancient Egypt, the cave paintings of prehistoric Eurasia and the sculptures of Mesopotamia. From the beginnings of art to the now, change has been seen in the requirements and boundaries now needed to be considered ‘Art’. From a time where ‘art’ could be as simple as painting what you did in a day on a cave, to a day and age where art is defined by the ability to conform to a set of rules. Controversy surrounding ethics in art, though, is a modern debate. With the bludgeoning of animals depicted in ancient cave paintings creating no uproar close to that of Guillermo Vargas’ ‘Exposicion No1’, hypocrisy is seen in the argument of what does and does not constitute the title of art. Based on ethics rather than self-expression is seen in the classification of Andy Goldsworthy’s ‘Magical Land Art Exhibition’, and the classic Vincent Vang Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’, compared to that of Vargus. Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’ is a canvas oil painting of an abstract landscape.
Chromatic blue swirls are background to a glowing yellow crescent moon, with stars depicted as radiating orbs, this image of a landscape is visually pleasing. However, writing to his brother, Theo, Van Gogh himself describes his inspiration; “This morning I saw the countryside from my window a long time before sunrise, with nothing but the morning star, which looked very big,” In August 2007, Costa Rican born artist Guillermo Vargas displayed “You Are What You Read”. The Costa Rican has been called an animal abuser, killer and worse over claims that a stray dog called Natividad died of starvation after he displayed it at an exhibition in 2007 at the Códice Gallery in Managua, Nicaragua However, he did feed Natividad after hours, giving him a bed to sleep in, however, that information was not released for a while. Exposition N01 raises such deep historical continuities, as well as many questions regarding art and social practices, the autonomy of art, animal rights and human rights.
The use of empty space is used to symbolise the lack of space for topics in society that are commonly ignored; homelessness, animal abuse, etc. Through outcry for the safety of the dog and the ethics involved in the creation of the work, his concept was proven; no one cares until they read about it. Exposición No 1 is one component of a larger work of art called Eres lo que lees, which employs misinformation and manipulates mass media via the Internet. One of the aims of this project was to demonstrate the hypocrisy in real world and art world ethics, Take a dog off the streets and put it into a gallery and it becomes an ethical phenomenon, while stray dogs and most real human suffering are ignored or given minimal attention. So, with this information, though it may not be visually pleasing to some, It is displayed in an art gallery, has a concept, and does involve skill. With more ticks in the “What constitutes Art” column, why is Vincent Van Gogh considered “…one of the most famous artists in the history of Western art” whereas Guillermo Vargas is described as an animal abuser, murderer, and petitioned by four million people worldwide, calling for the artist to be boycotted from the Central American Biennial Honduras 2008 and for criminal charges to be filed against him. Based on the evidence above, both artists do not fit the confines of what constitutes art. This use of live animals in art has been the catalyst for debates of morality and ethics in the art community. However, if art is based on the fundamentals of concept, visual enjoyability, technique or whether its been displayed in an art gallery, is it fair for moral outrage to definitively decide whether a piece is or is not art? This is not for any group of people to decide as a whole; there is no ultimate critic.
Conclusively, art is subjective. Arts that do not fit the ‘norm’, that aren’t beautiful works or historical pieces that are distasteful to a certain person could be the epitome of art to another. Everything can be art, and anything can be an ingredient for art. Either way, whether a piece of art is immoral or unethical, impractical or ugly, it is still art.
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