Is it possible to make objective judgements of art?

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hue-man
 
Reply Tue 11 Aug, 2009 02:26 pm
Can an objective judgment be made on the goodness or badness of a work of art, be it music, a painting, or literature? By objective, I don't mean mind-independent or aesthetic realism. By objective I mean can we make a neutral judgment and prove that one work of art is better than another? For example, we can prove that most people like one song more than another song, but does that mean that we can positively say that the more popular song is better than the less popular song, or only that more people think so?
 
Sorryel
 
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 02:10 pm
@hue-man,
hue-man;82599 wrote:
Can an objective judgment be made on the goodness or badness of a work of art, be it music, a painting, or literature? By objective, I don't mean mind-independent or aesthetic realism. By objective I mean can we make a neutral judgment and prove that one work of art is better than another?


I think you can be pretty objective about a lot of art if you make your criteria clear. For example most Watteaus are better representational paintings than most De Koenings and most of Lucien Freud's work is better at depicting human beings than most of Jeff Koons work. The close exceptions might prove the rule such as when you put a big ceramic sculpture of Jeff Koons and his porn star member of the Italian Parliament (now ex-)wife (a work by Jeff Koons though actually made by a ceramics studio) next to a human figure done by Lucien Freud.
 
Kroni
 
Reply Mon 2 Nov, 2009 12:48 am
@hue-man,
Art is about conveying a message that a viewer/listener can understand and enjoy. In theory you could do a poll comparing two paintings and see which one gets the most praise, thereby providing you with an objective analysis of their success. On the other hand, each picture has its own unique meaning. Enjoying art is purely subjective because each person has different tastes. Even if one painting received 100 times as much praise, another painting can still be considered successful art if at least one person was touched by it.
My conclusion: If art has done its job of touching at least one person, it is successful. Talks of comparing art are only useful for marketing purposes. (Using statistics and critical responses to judge what types of art will produce more money)
 
Sorryel
 
Reply Mon 2 Nov, 2009 07:29 am
@Kroni,
Kroni;101178 wrote:
Art is about conveying a message that a viewer/listener can understand and enjoy. In theory you could do a poll comparing two paintings and see which one gets the most praise, thereby providing you with an objective analysis of their success. On the other hand, each picture has its own unique meaning. Enjoying art is purely subjective because each person has different tastes. Even if one painting received 100 times as much praise, another painting can still be considered successful art if at least one person was touched by it.
My conclusion: If art has done its job of touching at least one person, it is successful. Talks of comparing art are only useful for marketing purposes. (Using statistics and critical responses to judge what types of art will produce more money)


Conveying a message is an objective sort of thing. The audience that the art is aimed at can generally judge what piece does a better job of that conveying. Often it seems that "taste" is invoked to explain what happens once the audience that understood the piece is absent.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 2 Nov, 2009 07:47 am
@hue-man,
hue-man;82599 wrote:
Can an objective judgment be made on the goodness or badness of a work of art, be it music, a painting, or literature? By objective, I don't mean mind-independent or aesthetic realism. By objective I mean can we make a neutral judgment and prove that one work of art is better than another? For example, we can prove that most people like one song more than another song, but does that mean that we can positively say that the more popular song is better than the less popular song, or only that more people think so?


Of course, from the premise that more people like something than another, it cannot follow that the something is better than the other. To think it does is to commit "The Naturalistic Fallacy" to derive value from fact.
From the premise that more people prefer X to Y, it cannot follow that people ought to prefer X to Y. See, for example, the article, "The Naturalistic Fallacy" in SEP. Another wonderful thing to read on this matter is an essay by David Hume called, "On the Standard of Taste". It is on the Net.
 
Krumple
 
Reply Mon 2 Nov, 2009 07:47 am
@hue-man,
I think there is more going into a piece of art than just the piece itself. A few examples are with art itself and with some music.

There was this young girl, around five or six who supposedly had some artistic talent in abstract painting. But it so happens that her father was a struggling painter who just couldn't get any of his stuff recognized. Strangely his daughters paintings were the talk and even a few exhibits were created because this young girl was so "talented". It is now theorized that her father created the paintings and used her to make money from them. The reason being is a test was conducted to see her style recorded and compared to all the previous work and they were drastically different pieces. The piece that she created on camera looked like the work of a six year old unlike all the other pieces. This called into question if the other works were not done by her. So there is that perspective.

As far as music goes, I can give a band that I bet no one else on this forum would ever say they like. It is not that hey are bad, in fact I consider them geniuses. My point is, that art often follows acceptance instead of actual taste. People want a collective thought rather than individual opinion.

"Everyone likes uniqueness but hate it when they see someone is completely different."

"You have to be the same as everyone else just in a different way or they will hate you for it."

In other words, art has more than just it's own to consider itself art. A brick glued to a board is not art, even if someone wants to say it is modern art, it's a gimmick, not art.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Mon 2 Nov, 2009 09:40 am
@hue-man,
hue-man;82599 wrote:
...By objective I mean can we make a neutral judgment and prove that one work of art is better than another?


No, I really doubt it. No art of any sort can be judged neutrally; the 'meter' by which such is judged is contained in the appear, expectations, effect on and preconceptions of the perceiver. As such, no I really don't think so.

hue-man;82599 wrote:
For example, we can prove that most people like one song more than another song, but does that mean that we can positively say that the more popular song is better than the less popular song, or only that more people think so?


What we like may appeal to us in ways other than the artistic. I like ice cream, but its appeal to me isn't artistic. I like my wife's smile too, but although this could be called art, it's not the primary appeal that strikes me. As in your example, there are many reasons why a song might appeal to many. For some, it might have that artistic appeal - for others it could be distinctly different.

But your point is well taken. Any parts of these things in my examples could be characterized as artistic. Along with this, I think it's important that we take into account that amongst the types and levels of appeal, the artistic is but one.

Too murky for any objective or neutral classifications, methinks.

Thanks
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Mon 2 Nov, 2009 12:05 pm
@Khethil,
The only real way to do this would be to create arbitrary parameters on which to objectify the art
 
Kroni
 
Reply Mon 2 Nov, 2009 02:15 pm
@GoshisDead,
I believe art can only be objective to an individual, not to a group of people. You can only say a piece of art is better than another in terms of your own preference.
 
xris
 
Reply Mon 2 Nov, 2009 02:43 pm
@Kroni,
You can make an objective judgement of art but it has no value to you. You are merely conforming to others standards laid down by certain criteria. Music and art critics do it all the time but it creates an atmosphere where crap can be given value and novel beautiful works can be judged harshly, because it breaks the rules of objective viewing.
 
Kroni
 
Reply Mon 2 Nov, 2009 02:57 pm
@xris,
Let's put it this way: I am a fan of rock, but not country. I am a fan of Star Wars, but not Star Trek. These are just personal opinions and are only based on what I get out of watching/listening to these things. Within the boundaries of my own perception, rock is better than country, and Star Wars is better than Star Trek. This is because rock and Star Wars were more successful in conveying enjoyable messages to me. But there may be someone with a completely different point of view that would say country and Star Trek are better. You can propose reasons or arguements for your opinion, but ultimately it is based on your own experiences in relationship with the presentation of the art. So I would argue that the objectivity of art is only valuable for yourself, not for someone else.
 
xris
 
Reply Mon 2 Nov, 2009 04:01 pm
@Kroni,
Kroni;101333 wrote:
Let's put it this way: I am a fan of rock, but not country. I am a fan of Star Wars, but not Star Trek. These are just personal opinions and are only based on what I get out of watching/listening to these things. Within the boundaries of my own perception, rock is better than country, and Star Wars is better than Star Trek. This is because rock and Star Wars were more successful in conveying enjoyable messages to me. But there may be someone with a completely different point of view that would say country and Star Trek are better. You can propose reasons or arguements for your opinion, but ultimately it is based on your own experiences in relationship with the presentation of the art. So I would argue that the objectivity of art is only valuable for yourself, not for someone else.
Your being subjective , your looking at from personal values .
 
Kroni
 
Reply Mon 2 Nov, 2009 04:28 pm
@hue-man,
You're missing my point. My point is that my personal values are sufficient to be objective within the scope of my own perception. There is no arguing with the fact that to me certain music is better than other music. Once you cross the boundaries of your own perception and try to make a standard for other viewers, you are in the realm of subjectivism.
 
xris
 
Reply Tue 3 Nov, 2009 07:56 am
@Kroni,
Kroni;101354 wrote:
You're missing my point. My point is that my personal values are sufficient to be objective within the scope of my own perception. There is no arguing with the fact that to me certain music is better than other music. Once you cross the boundaries of your own perception and try to make a standard for other viewers, you are in the realm of subjectivism.
I think you have rewritten the notion of objectivity. How can you be objective when expressing your own views and values? Making standards for others is not subjective, its impossible.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 3 Nov, 2009 08:08 am
@xris,
xris;101436 wrote:
I think you have rewritten the notion of objectivity. How can you be objective when expressing your own views and values? Making standards for others is not subjective, its impossible.


You cannot be objective by expressing only your own view and values. But you can be objective while expressing your own views and values if only by saying that you recognize that those are your own views and values. And, also, you can, yourself, try to discuss your own values and views critically. That would be another way of being objective while you express your own views and values. After all, expressing your views and values need not be making standards for others. It depends on how you do it.
 
xris
 
Reply Tue 3 Nov, 2009 08:29 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;101444 wrote:
You cannot be objective by expressing only your own view and values. But you can be objective while expressing your own views and values if only by saying that you recognize that those are your own views and values. And, also, you can, yourself, try to discuss your own values and views critically. That would be another way of being objective while you express your own views and values. After all, expressing your views and values need not be making standards for others. It depends on how you do it.
What? If you admit they are your views, your preferences, you are confirming they are subjective, your not making them objective because of your admission. How can debating your values make the criticism objective? All you are then doing is explaining your reason for being subjective....

If objectivity is possible its by using accepted reasoning to analyse the work. For example the composition of figures in a painting, the overlapping triangles. The way your eye is drawn to a certain figure. In music how certain melodies can be repeated within the formula of the composition. It is analytical not personal.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 3 Nov, 2009 08:40 am
@xris,
xris;101455 wrote:
What? If you admit they are your views, your preferences, you are confirming they are subjective, your not making them objective because of your admission. How can debating your values make the criticism objective? All you are then doing is explaining your reason for being subjective....

If objectivity is possible its by using accepted reasoning to analyse the work. For example the composition of figures in a painting, the overlapping triangles. The way your eye is drawn to a certain figure. In music how certain melodies can be repeated within the formula of the composition. It is analytical not personal.


I am trying to take an objective view of them by allowing that they are expressing only my own views. I can then, for example recognize defects in my views, and bring them to your attention. I can also suggest ways of remedying these defects. So, although the views I express are subjective, just in the sense that they are my own views, and not the views of others, yet, they are not subjective in the sense of not incorporating objective criteria in expressing them. I am not insisting that they must be right because they are my views. In fact, quite the opposite.
 
hue-man
 
Reply Tue 3 Nov, 2009 09:19 am
@xris,
xris;101330 wrote:
You can make an objective judgement of art but it has no value to you. You are merely conforming to others standards laid down by certain criteria. Music and art critics do it all the time but it creates an atmosphere where crap can be given value and novel beautiful works can be judged harshly, because it breaks the rules of objective viewing.


Whether or not something has value to you doesn't depend on whether or not the value is influenced by cultural norms. What's crap and what's beautiful is relative I suppose, but I always feel that I have a good eye for in depth art, beauty, and concepts.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 3 Nov, 2009 09:22 am
@hue-man,
hue-man;101479 wrote:
What's crap and what's beautiful is relative I suppose,


Relative to what? Do you (perhaps) mean that what is thought to be beautiful or not is relative to a society, or culture?
 
hue-man
 
Reply Tue 3 Nov, 2009 09:30 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;101481 wrote:
Relative to what? Do you (perhaps) mean that what is thought to be beautiful or not is relative to a society, or culture?


It's relative to whoever considers it to be beautiful (including a society or a culture).
 
 

 
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