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“The True Test Of The Greatness Of A Work Of Art Is Its Ability To Be Understood By The Masses.”

1161 words - 5 pages

“The true test of the greatness of a work of art is its ability to be understood by the masses.”

The statement "The true test of the greatness of a work of art is its ability to be understood by the masses;" is highly problematic. Art in itself has an ambiguous definition that combines concepts of aesthetics and personal emotion.

When one thinks of art, it becomes clear that the definition of art is too abstract. Art can be anything from cavepaintings to heiroglypics and pottery. Does this mean that art as it is defined is too broad? If that is the case, the quote clearly asks for a narrow interpretation of artwork that makes the current questionable.

Firstly, what constitutes ...view middle of the document...

If a great piece of work were to be explained as something other than what the masses believe, would its greatness be revoked?

Another example of how a medium changes the comprehensibility of art is modern art. Many pieces of modern art dumbfound its viewers. Due to modern arts ability to include props such as sticks, gum, wood, and in even some cases multimedia presentations makes it difficult to disect. I once had the opportunity to visit the Musuem of Modern Art in Paris. While there, I saw many pieces that left me pondering how they could be considered a work of art, let alone great. One of these pieces consisted of a wooden stump that had been painted and mounted upon a canvas. The price of the painting was well over one hundred thousand dollars. I was flabbergasted that such a monstrosity could even be worth the paint that was thrown upon it. Yet, artists such as Cy Twombly have made millions off of such pieces. Clearly the masses do not always dictate what comprises great art.

Secondly, when testing the greatness of a work of art, it is important to keep in mind the social and cultural influences that determine what is beautiful in one culture and not another. A great example would be the statues of the Greeks and Romans. Many find the work to be provactive and eye-catching, especially the way in which the human body is so carefully sculpted and formed. None the less, there are those who may see nudity formed in stone. For instance, how many children have a cultivated eye for art work such as that? When in musuems, rarely would someone hear a toddler proclaiming her love of the statue of Aphrodite or winged greatness of Nike. One would be more likely to hear questions concerning the fact that Nike has been decapitated and that Aphrodite is not wearing any clothes. Does this mean that the age of masses mentioned or their cultural inclination for art in the above quote must be further specified in order to make the statement accurate? If so, such a measurement cannot be applicaple to the critiquing of art

If the true test of artistic greatness is its ability to be understood by the masses, would many famous artists not be considered ordinary?

A famous example would be Pablo Picasso,...

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