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Detail of eye in painting "Who's that Girl?" (Its In The Eyes) 2019 Fiona J Williams. Acrylic on Canvas. 90cm x 61cm.
When is something Art and when is it just a painting?
So you found an art piece that you like, but you are unsure if it is actually 'art'. You are either unsure if you know enough about art, or you are scared that you are being duped into buying something that has na value in any of the ways it is being sold to you. And in the 100s of calls we have gotten, a friend or acquaintance has made a comment doubting a beloved art piece. So you came looking for an expert to check in. Tascha Sciarone is writing this as an Art Historian and a gallery owner to explore the concept between Art and art. Hopefully this explanation will help you make an informed decision going forward.
Ultimately however, art is in the eye of the beholder, but you can consider these 7 things to get a better understanding when something is more likely to be considered art.
Art Historian Tascha Sciarone with paintings by artist Marko Klomp an Negar Rashidi at the art fair Art Laren in 2022.
Discovery Art Fair Booth of Gallery Sorelle Sciarone in Frankfurt 2022. Works by Marko Klomp, Adéle du Plessis and Negar Rashidi are seen here.
Eye of the Beholder meets intent and dedication of the Artist
Ultimately, we want to stress the importance of being comfortable with what you like. Whether you can articulate it or not. This is the most important aspect of enjoying and ultimately owning art. You need to like it. How you interpret the above criteria of whether or not something is art, I hope you realised art is subjective. And we create the criteria of whether or not we understand it is art. The fun thing is, the more you spread your joy and love of the artwork you collect or admire, the more you are validating it as an artwork. This is also ultimately what this gallery is doing: find art we like and spend a large part of our professional life showing it to more and more people. It would be nice if the piece sold but is not the only marker of good art. A lot of bad and problematic pieces get sold for all the wrong reasons. So it is also important to look at the artists dedication to his craft and intentions behind creating art work.
Art is a subjective and complex concept that can be difficult to define. Generally, Art can be defined as a form of expression that conveys emotions, ideas, or aesthetic qualities through various mediums such as paint, sculpture, music, or literature. However, if the art pieces fail to capture the imagination of the audience, then eventually the pieces, no matter how good will be lost to time.
Ultimately, the distinction between when paint is considered art and when it is not depends on the intention behind the application of the paint and how it is perceived by the viewer. The viewers picking up that art that has managed to engage them and going with it, is what adds cultural capital to an artwork which will lead to it being taken up into more established space.
So if you have an artwork you have collected, you can advocate for that artist and artwork by sharing it with you network. You can even write your thoughts and feelings about the artwork. Once art is released into the world by the artist, it belongs to us all.
And in this written piece, Fiona J. Williams artwork: "Who's that girl? (Its In The Eyes)" 2019 artwork becomes a metaphor that art is subjective to who views it. And then continues to foster it. And technically everything at the gallery is Art, because it is being lovingly fostered and shared. I encourage you to continue to read and expand on your definition of art.
Thank you for taking the time to read this piece. I hope some things have been clarified for you and it helps ou further along in your art collecting or art loving journey. And I also hope you realise as viewer you are an active participant in art. Your contribution matters, whether that is leaving feedback, looking at it or showing it to your friends or colleagues.
Love, Tascha Sciarone
Art Historian Tascha Sciarone taking a selfie with one of Thea van Doorn's enigmatic miniature pieces from her series "Vrouw en Hond" an ongoing decade long art series.