I stumbled upon this YouTube video yesterday and it made me think. Give it a watch:
I do remember the first time I saw art that provoked an emotional reaction in me. It was in Norway at Vigeland Park. It was pre-phone camera and pre-blog, so I found this photo online to share with you today:
On that day, I walked amongst the giant statues and suddenly started weeping. And yet, I remember showing photos of the sculpture to my Father and he didn't understand why I liked it so much. I thought, "Well photos don't do it justice." But then several years later, a guy I was dating was going to be in Oslo for a day on a layover and I told him that he just *had* to make a stop at Vigeland Park. He texted me from the sculpture park to say, "meh."
The idea, from the video, that art has to be "life changing" to be great makes sense. BUT, I think that notion only reinforces the idea that art is subjective. What changes my life may not change yours. It's also possible that what changed my life in my 20s, wouldn't make a ripple in my 40s.
I remember visiting the East Side Gallery in Germany with my friend Nathalie. She translated much of the German text for me, and as it turned out, much of the cultural subtext as well. This image didn't mean a lot to me:
But Nat told me that when the wall first came down the East Germans went crazy for bananas, which they previously hadn't had access to. And were made fun of for it by some West Germans. So this piece meant something to her, as a German, that it didn't mean to me.
In a similar vein, I remember visiting MoMA with a friend from Australia and several works from Jacob Lawrence's "The Migration Series" were on display.
In my Design Boot Camp workshop, participants are asked to share work they dislike. And the funny thing is that inevitably students bring in work that another student loves as work that they hate. Great work: daVinici, Monet, Picasso, and so on. And that's totally normal.
So what does that mean for defining great art? For me, I think it's another indication that the greatness of art is subjective and it need only be great to you.
What are your thoughts on the subject?