by Jen Graves
on Thu, Sep 5, 2013 at 11:30 AM
The Brooklyn Rail this week has two essays taking stock on art. They both make big statements well and clearly. Hard to do.
First, the more general "What Is Art?" by Elizabeth C. Baker. I can't believe somebody made anything good under that title. But she did.
We no longer reject the unfamiliar, we embrace it with fervor. ...
The ritualized exploding of boundaries is not espoused by all artists of skill and imagination. Some dismiss the question, “What is art?” and take a different course. For them, traditional formats and mediums offer continuing potential. Painting is not dead. Abstraction continues to find adherents. Figurative art is enjoying a vigorous revival. Portraiture is thriving in a multitude of mediums. The intimate pleasures of drawing are seducing a new generation.
What if we reverse the question to ask, “What isn’t art?” Surveying the world at large, we can only conclude that almost everything that surrounds us is not art. For the current multifarious artistic activity infiltrating our lives, challenging and maddening as it can seem, we may therefore be grateful, as we try to sort things out.