At 6:49 pm +0100 16/3/02, Christophe Grandsire wrote:
>En réponse à Raymond Brown <[log in to unmask]>:
>> I agree.  In my book, all the truly great artists have been skilled in
>> their craft.  What distinguishes them, it seems to me, is that
>> indefinable
>> stroke of genius - the vision to reach beyond their craft.
>I'm a little difficult on that one... Do we have to be a good crafts(wo)man to
>be a good artist? Do you need to know about painting technics to be a good

I can't think of any painter who is generally acknowledged as an great
artist who was not also skilled at painting.

>Do you need to know music notation to be a good musician?

That, I think, is rather different.  A person can be a skilled wordsmith
and possess a spark of genious that makes her/him a true poet, without
being able to write.  There must have many such artists now unknown to us
in pre-literate societies.

In the same way, I can imagine someone who has played certain musical
instruments from a very early age, who has become a veritable craftsperson
[ugh  - it was easier in the pre-PC days when 'craftsman' was epicene] but
cannot read musical notation. Likewise, I'm sure there are people who can
read musical notation and are hopeless at playing any instrument whatever.

>One of the
>best French song writers, Serge Gainsbourg, was admittedly absolutely
>analphabete when it went to poetry and music technics. Yet his texts are
>masters of modern poetry and his melodies are some of the best you can find in
>French music,

By analphabete at poetry, you mean he couldn't write it?  But he'd been
speaking since somewhere between one and two years old, I guess.  He'd
surely have been learning his wordsmith craft as he grew up otherwise he'd
not produce texts of which are masters of poetry.  As for the melodies, I
don't know anything about the guy; but I guess he was one of those
fortunate people who have a good for music and pick up melodies.  Who knows
what had been going on his mind over the years.

> daring to do things people didn't dare before, full of talent and

That's it!  That's surely the difference - the spark of genius, inspiration
(call it what you will) that gives one the vision to see and dare things
not done before.

>He was surely not a craftsman. Yet he was absolutely an artist.

I'm not so sure.
>I must emphasize I'm not against your idea. I just find it a little

To tell the truth, I haven't formulated any hard and fast ideas.  Some are
forming as this thread goes along.  I was trying to distinguish between the
charlatan who passes himself off as an artist, and the real artitst.

>It's called "Guernica".

Yes, of course - thank you.

>> But then Picasso did test things, did try different ideas to see how
>> they'd
>> work, did push his craft and his ideas to their limits.  To me real
>> art
>> communicates and _challenges_ - is not mere airy-fairy aesthetics.
>I absolutely agree! That's why I consider that you can be an artist without
>being a skilled craftsman. Even a poorly executed painting can be art, if it
>succeeds in communicating what it wants to communicate.

Possibly - tho if it's poor it may well hinder the communication.

I think to push your medium to the limits and even beyond it, you must have
some feel or understanding of your medium.  It may be something hard won
through much training, or it may be because of innate ability it has been
acquired almost unconconsciously.

At 1:52 pm -0500 16/3/02, wayne chevrier wrote:
>Andreas Johansson nevesht:
>>earn money or pass exams. Surely an activity doesn't automatically become
>>art because it's creative?
>Surely a creative activity is an art, it may be other things as well, but
>still an art.

One of the problems, surely, is that _art_ has too wide a range of meanings
and it's difficult to get people to agree on what it means.

Indeed, in English it can have good and bad connotations.  It can mean
"cunning", "artifice", "sly conduct".  _artful_ could once mean 'clever'
(in a positive sense), but that is archaic.  It now means "cunning", "sly".

In fact if one consults a dictionary it can mean the same as _craft_ in the
sense of _practicle skill_.  An "artsman" was an old word for "craftsman".

So what consitutes art?

Is the scientist in the lab creating some new compound indulging in art?
Does the gardner who creates new borders each year indulge in art?  Does
the person who knits a sweater an artist?

One of my hobbies is cooking.  It certainly creative.  But is it art?

At 5:12 am -0500 17/3/02, David Peterson wrote:
>(I hope this doesn't come out all screwy...)
> Guernica--I saw it when I was in Spain.  :)  Man, by the age of five,
>Picasso was a better realist than I'll ever be.  Drew little "sketches" of
>his parents in pencil--perfect!  I wrote about this just recently for a
>class which is why it comes to mind.

To quote JC's words: "We violently agree, then."  :)

> <<
> What a boring old age lies before you.>>
> Oh, what a mess I started!  And all because I don't like the words
>"hobby" and "craft"--one for the semantic baggage it carries with it,

I wonder if that's one of these words that don't mean quite the same each
side of the pond.  Normally over here it just means "past-time", "what was
does in one's spare time" - I have too many  ;)

>the other purely because of the sound of it: [k_hr&ft].  Ugliest word in

Ah - in this neck of the woods we say [k_rA:ft] which doesn't sound so ugly.

> <<If one has an interest in one's spare time it's
> mere fidding around!  Only artists do serious things.>>
> To quote your words, "What arrant snobbishness".  ~;p  Hee, hee...

We seem to be violently agreeing again.


A mind which thinks at its own expense
will always interfere with language.
                     [J.G. Hamann 1760]