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What is art?
the definition of art and artist?
No two definitions are the same.

Conception is the key to art.

A really well made button hole is the only link between art and nature.

Jacques Ellul observes When dialogue begins, propaganda ends. His theme, that propaganda is not this or that ideology but rather the action and coexistence of all media at once, explains why propaganda is environmental and invisible. The total life of any culture tends to be "propaganda", for this reason. It blankets perception and suppresses awareness, making the counter environments created by the artist indispensable to survival and freedom. ~ Marshall McLuhan


What's in fashion isn't about culture, fashion is about one thing - Advertising.
​Motivating the culture to buy what they don't want or need is about one thing "PUBLIC RELATIONS"

Fraud's American nephew Edward Bernays was the first to use psychological techniques in public relations. The words of Paul Mazur, a leading Wall Street banker working for Lehman Brothers, are cited: "We must shift America from a needs- to a desires-culture. People must be trained to desire, to want new things, even before the old have been entirely consumed. [...] Man's desires must overshadow his needs".

Director Doug Pray reveals the work and wisdom of some of the most influential advertising minds of our time. From the "creative revolution" of the 1960s, artists and writers have brought a surprisingly rebellious spirit to their work in an industry known for pandering and manipulation.

Lee Clow

George Lois

Import ideas from conceptual art into the heart of politics Power Strategy -- just keep them all confused Adam Curtis

Modern #art was #CIA #'weapon' (1995) unwitting artists such as Pollock and de Kooning got used in a cultural Cold War

1955 NY Times US has sonic secret weapon - JAZZ America's secret weapon is a a blue note in a minor key" or better "European approach to jazz as seen by Americans".

The DoD takes an extremely active part in culture-shaping. anytime you see US military hardware or personnel in a film or TV show, it has to be run by the DoD PR for review and editing to promote an 'acceptable' view of the military -- even for things as trivial as American Idol. Americans by and large absorb what is within the bounds of acceptable political thought from mass media. What you don't see are the hands behind the scenes sculpting our culture.

America's Secret Weapon Saunders' The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of #Arts and Letters




Difficult personalities go with the territory. And when it comes to art, talent isis unique in a class by itself - original - one of a kind. You can't control them. There's very little talent out there. And the more you try to tell it what to do and how to act the more you're going to alienate it.
Talent is king only if it's bigger than the enterprise. When the execs start believing they're bigger than the talent, you know you're in trouble. Controversy fades, if you listen to your critics, you're toast. The world runs on talent. And executives hate this. Talent is mercurial, doesn't heed deadlines and other corporate mores. But talent is the fuel of success. The most important person is the one who finds and signs the talent, everybody else is superfluous, remember that.
Distribution is king. If you can't see or hear it, it doesn't exist. But distribution without talent is a complete failure. Talent first, never forget it.
You can go your own way, but you might not be as successful. Meanwhile, the establishment you worked at just doesn't get it, and you're frustrated. So we lionize the innovators. Never give up your audience, it's all you have.


Why artists create. They have a need to COMMUNICATE!
~Bob Lefsetz Music Critic

" We think these artists are two-dimensional. We want them to open wounds and reveal all, but we want to treat them like cardboard cut-outs, without feelings, without dimensions. Actually, I'll posit the greater the artist, the looser their grip on reality. There's no more talented artist than Joni Mitchell, but conversation with her is extremely difficult. It's hard to get to the meat of the matter for Joni challenging and interrupting your premise, however irrelevant. Not that I speak with Joni all the time. But I've had a few interactions.
Not that she's crazy, but I will say she's difficult. Then again, she made the best self-confessional music of all time. Furthermore, she can play and sing and write. Do you think a normal person can do this?
A normal person plays it close to the vest, is manipulative, whereas an artist is out there completely, warts and all. Artists need representation because they can't fathom the manipulation of business, they need protection." ~ Bob Lefsetz

True artists are not like us. They lack discipline. Order. ARTISTS never really belong. They were off-kilter. Thin-skinned. Following an inner art they weren't fully sure they possessed. Poseurs are boasters, confident, all-knowing. Legends are unsure.
The truth is the greats are doomed. Even if they're alive, they're oftentimes broke and unhappy. But without them, without their beacon, life would not be worth living.

Artistic Requirements
by Bob Lefsetz

In the land of the phony it's your responsibility to speak from the heart in an unfiltered way. If you're second-guessing the audience, you're already in trouble. Put the beer company in your song and you've lost credibility, and credibility is key to believability and longevity. It's your duty to reach down into the hearts of the audience and resonate with their true feelings.

Nobody likes a wuss, nobody likes namby-pamby. If you're not offending someone, you're not doing it right. Likes are for Facebook, not art. Art has an edge. Art makes people uncomfortable. It makes people think. It makes people feel. If you rub off all the rough points no one will talk about you, no one will care about your art, and now, more than ever, the road to success is paved with discussion.

We can debate all day long whether Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hour rule is accurate. All I can say is practice gives you a facility, an ability to be your best self. I'm a great skier, but only after being on the hill thirty days straight do I have the confidence and ability to ski between the rocks. Sure, amateurs can do it, but one false move and they're dead, literally. The practice gives you the recovery gene, you're able to accommodate mistakes instinctively. I admire John Oliver because he does his act so well, but the truth is it was honed on the "Daily Show." You're not a great performer the first time you hit the stage. You learn by experience. What works with the audience and yourself. So you can buy a short cut, but then your life will be full of short cuts. You can sing the songs of hitmakers, but once you're no longer flavor of the month, when you're no longer privy to the best material, what are you going to do then? If you're a writer yourself, you can survive. And a great writer has a facility with words the same way I can ski between the rocks, it's got to be a reflex gene.

An artist creates. Constantly. That's their job. The same way a baseball player plays 162 games a season. You've got to keep doing it, you've got to love it. If you'd rather social network, be a businessman.

People will try to change you, say they're gonna kill your career and other hogwash. Don't bend. That does not mean you're always right, but if your inner tuning fork says you are, stand up for your viewpoint. Business is about manipulation, art is unselfconscious, it emanates from deep inside. Your best art will be made when you're not even trying, when you're channeling the gods.

Art is all about influence. The Beatles were influenced by "Pet Sounds." Be aware of the landscape, study the history, not so you can testify like an expert but so you can establish a jumping off point, so you can see you were not the only one who was confronted with this issue.

Sure, everybody wants to get paid. But if it's your primary desire, you're not an artist. First and foremost an artist wants to create and have his art experienced by as large an audience as possible. If you're concerned about money, go into tech, where if it doesn't pay, it doesn't play.

Unlike anything else. In the heyday of classic rock, Jethro Tull didn't sound like anything else, and when you first saw Alice Cooper your draw dropped. Being me-too is not being an artist. An artist test limits, challenges the audience's preconceptions. If you're operating behind the audience, or are at the same place they are, you're stagnant, you're not being an artist.

If you're cocksure, always confident you're on the right path, you're not an artist. An artist is an explorer. And sometimes he finds himself atop a snowy mountain in the wrong place without a compass.

If you're looking to others you're ceding your artistry. You must know what you want. Others' ideas can stimulate you, but they can't provide for you, they can't give you your starting point.

A businessman says yes and then lies in the future to try and get what he wants. An artist is pure, an artist won't do that which is uncomfortable, the business and the audience bend to the artist, not vice versa.

Apologize if you're wrong, but defend yourself if you're not. Just because someone is criticizing you, that does not mean they're right.

It's tough to be an artist, especially today, when there are so many diversions and the only thing anybody talks about is money. But the truth is money pales in comparison to art. Art slays money. And usually generates a pile of it anyway. Being an artist is a sentence, it's painful, and if you don't feel this you're not one.

Only superseded by love.

What music does best, isn't about telling a story, but to instigate your own, set your mind free to remember, to think, to envelop yourself in this thing we call life. ~Lefsetz

We all have warts. And an artist is one who reflects them back upon ourselves, with insight. ~Lefsetz

Your work isn't art until somebody rich comes along and buys it ~ Stiglitz

A lot of people play music for the wrong reasons. I never played to get women, though I had my share. I didn't do it for the money, though it pays the bills. I realized early on that I could create something beautiful that would build love within the people who came out to hear it. Music is the best medicine in the world, man. - Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown who passed on 9/10/05

They're loners, who want in.

And the only entrance ticket they've got is their art. They just believe if they do good enough work, the door will open, they'll be accepted, they'll find love and happiness. The motivation is different today. Art is secondary to stardom.

Are you concerned about the issues between maintaining control of one's own work and having access to the creative works of others? Is it possible to imagine a middle ground that can sustain and accommodate both proprietary and public domain needs? What new business models, legal schemes or public policies are needed to achieve such a vision?
Copyright vs Public Domain

What is art?

Excerpt from pages 42-54 of The Economics of Attention: Style and Substance in the Age of Information by Richard A. Lanham, published by the University of Chicago Press. 2006 by The University of Chicago.

Duchamp said he made the first one, the bicycle wheel, just because it was fun to spin the wheel around. But when you exhibit it, when you put it into an attention field called "art," it becomes a catalyst. You must look at it differently. Yes, we should indeed pay more attention to the utilitarian world, savor its beauty as beauty. But when you find yourself gazing at it worshipfully, Duchamp turns around and says, "It's just a bicycle wheel, you silly jerk." The final result is to make us oscillate back and forth between the physical world, stuff, and how we think about stuff. It makes us look at our own patterns of attention and the varieties of "seriousness" we construct atop them.
That oscillation constitutes a serious lesson about seriousness. But it does not constitute great art, if we think of art as composed of stuff shaped into beauty, as forming part of a goods economy. In this industrial framework, Duchamp is the charlatan some have taken him for. But if you are willing to put him into an attention economy rather than a goods economy, let him work in attention, not in stuff, then things look different. Duchamp, as few before him, knew how to catalyze human attention in the most economical way possible. The disproportion between his oeuvre, the physical stuff he left behind, and his reputation can be explained in no other way. If we are looking for economists of attention, he provides a good place to start, an excellent lesson in efficiency. Musicians Give away product / music to purchase attention. In an information economy, the real scarce commodity will always be human attention and that attracting that attention will be the necessary precondition of social change. And the real source of wealth. Warhol the commercial artist, Warhol the painter, Warhol the filmmaker, Warhol the writer, Warhol the collector, Warhol the philosopher, and, superlatively and climactically, Warhol the celebrity: all these roles float on a sea of commentary, nowadays mostly hagiographical. Let's try, as a perspective by incongruity, to describe Andy Warhol as an economist, an economist of attention. And perhaps the perspective would not in fact seem so incongruous to him. Here's what he said about the relation of art to business: "Business art is the step that comes after Art.

It was his life's work to illustrate the paradoxical relationship of stuff and attention. Let's summarize the rules of attention-economy art as Andy practiced them:

My work has no future at all. I know that. A few years. Of course my things will mean nothing."

Gil Scott Heron - What is a Poet



What is art? We asked a cross-section of people from within the arts world, as well as the wider community, to define art in one sentence. Some came up with a quick quip, others relied on extensive punctuation to offer a more descriptive response. No two definitions were the same.

Hans Asperger, a Viennese pediatrician wrote in 1944,
- "For success in science or art, a dash of autism is essential."

Stephen Page, artistic director, Bangarra Dance Theatre
-The spirit of the dreaming.

Bronwyn Johnson, director Melbourne Art Fair
- Art is an expression of our culture and the time in which we live - and `great' art has the potential to transcend cultural boundaries.

Bernard Smith, art historian
- Art is anything that requires a maker; it cannot make itself - this is Aristotle's definition in The Nicomachian Ethics, and I think it to be the best.

Mirka Mora, painter
- Art is the child of imagination and gives life.

Jan Senbergs, painter
- I asked our dog Ruby and she didn't know either ...

Gabrielle Pizzi, gallery director
- Art may be a painting, sculpture, photograph, symphony, dance or any other creative endeavor that incorporates intellectual rigor, structural excellence, a strong element of beauty and a core of spirituality as well as the capacity to transport the audience to a higher level of being.

Geoffrey Ricardo, printmaker
- Having an itch you can't scratch.

Laura Murray Cree, editor, Art and Australia
- Art in its broadest sense - is the compulsion to give creative expression and definition to life (and itself), and to go beyond definition - inscribed by culture and aesthetics; aching for response; illusory and defiant of illusion; liberated by intellect, wit and chance; refined by love.

Ross Stretton, artistic director, The Australian Ballet
- Art is something created to affect your feelings and your thoughts - it moves you, excites you, challenges you, inspires you.

Janine Burke, novelist and art historian
- We need art because it turns the shit and chaos of our lives, through a process of sheer alchemy, into beauty, wonder, joy.

Robert Buckingham, director, Melbourne Fashion Festival
- Art is a product of imaginative minds.

Claire Petterson, obstetrician and gynaecologist
- Art has the facility to actually enrich and empower your life and make you happy.

Rick Amor, painter
- Art consciously transforms reality and creates a philosophical and emotional exchange between the artist and the viewer.

Kim Durban, director of drama, National Theatre Drama School
- Art is the tangible result of our human drive to express inner experience using rhythmic, sensuous or composed effects.

Carrillo Gantner, president of the Victorian Arts Centre
- Life experience distilled through creative expression.

Ron Robertson-Swann, sculptor
- The whole endeavor of art is about the (aesthetically) beautiful.

Kate Cherry, associate director, Melbourne Theatre Company
- Art is indefinable.

Peter Lancaster, fine art printer
- Looking for something you can't find.

Richard Divall, conductor
- Art is the greatest gift of God, one that transcends human suffering and brings joy and enlightenment to both creator and its audience.

Richard Tognetti, artistic director, Australian Chamber Orchestra
- Art is the distillation or the exaggeration of life.

Shelley Lasica, choreographer
- Art is anything defined as such, however good art is about the understanding of distinguishing between things, curiosity and an idea or two.

Robin Benjamin, kindergarten teacher
- A creative expression of oneself done in one's choice of medium.

Gerard Vaughan, director National Gallery of Victoria
- Art can take many forms - visual, musical, performing but for me a work of art is something created by the human mind that has the capacity to move me - it has a real aesthetic, emotional and spiritual element

Jason Smith, curator, Contemporary Art, National Gallery of Victoria
- Art is many different and stimulating things - today art is a wellcut and well occupied pair of trousers.

Jonathan Mills, artistic director, Melbourne Festival
- Art is never a sentence; it is an improbable miracle soaring above the banality of everyday existence.

Peter Watson, Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne
- Art is the response of the human mind, heart and spirit to the world, people and ideas around us; it is an expression of our longing for the transcendent, and a participation in the creativity of the creator God, the living Spirit.

Monsignor Peter J. Elliott, episcopal vicar for education for the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne
- Art is the human expression of the divine beauty and harmony, which resonates in the created world around us.

Michael Long, Essendon footballer and painter
- It's friends around you, as Ginger (Riley) says, if you look after it, it will look after you.

Anonda Bell, curator, Bendigo Art Gallery
- Art is constituted by the act of choice.

Mark Fraser, director, Sothebys
- Art only becomes art on those rare occasions when both the mind and the senses are simultaneously stimulated.

Oscar Saunders, security guard, National Gallery of Victoria
- Art offers to me a wide range of visual enjoyment and mental stimulation; depending on your taste you are attracted to certain types of art instantly, others you will stop at and wonder what it is all about - this leads to questions and answers which turn your mind to a larger spectrum of appreciation, and last but not least, it has helped me pay the bills!

Margaret Anderson, president, Voluntary Guides, National Gallery of Victoria
- Art for me is living and feeling, responding to a moment - a glance, and something much deeper and more difficult to define but very satisfying.

Felicity Hampel, QC, president, Liberty Victoria
- Art is the creative expression of thoughts, ideas or emotions, which stimulates the senses or the imagination of the beholder.

John Pandolfini, owner, Fini art framers
- For me the most appropriate definition is as stated in the 1955 edition of The Little Oxford Dictionary: "See `Be'."

Caroline Sargent, final year art student, Victorian College of the Arts
- Largely misunderstood; not given the recognition it deserves.

Trevor Armstrong, owner, The Arts Bookshop
- Art is an integral part of our lives and communicates at all levels ... it is a medium for transmitting ideas ... from the academic and often esoteric analysis of historical works held in the formal environment of the art gallery, to the everyday visual enjoyment of the graphics on the cover of the latest CD or the humble cereal box.

Bala Starr, curator, The Ian Potter Museum of Art
- Impossible to say.

Pro Hart, painter
- Art happens and you can't plan it.

Richard Neville, author
- Art is truth and beauty in a jolt of lightning.

Lisa Cameron, senior lecturer, department of economics, University of Melbourne
- Art can be beauty for beauty's sake - it needn't reflect rationality or logic, and so provides immense relief for someone whose working life is dominated by these concrete precepts.

Max Delany, director, 200 Gertrude Street
- Here goes: art is the conjunction of image and idea, the meeting place between imagination and creativity, it seeks to amplify (and destabilise) perception; habitually falling outside of rational order, and conceiving of the future whilst playing with the past.

Jeremy Strode, executive chef, Langton's Restaurant & Wine Bar
- Art is stimulation of the senses by somebody else's creativity.

Ray Hughes, gallery director
- The function of the artist is to describe the world from their own personal point of view, and when you put enough artists' personal points of view together you start to get a sense of the fabric of the time and place it was made, and style and fashion has very little to do with it.

Paul Grabowsky, composer
- Art is only finally realised as the maturation of a contract between the maker and the recipient through which the dreams of the former find their resolution in the hope/despair of the later.

Juliana Engberg, curator 2001 Melbourne Festival Visual Arts Program
- Art is the rubric of human consciousness.

Stephen McIntyre, pianist
- Art is the most dependable way of giving meaning to life.

Richard Smithers, campaign coordinator, Bicycle Victoria
- Art evokes a response that takes me away from the humdrum of what I am doing at the time, and lets me see from a new perspective.

David Larwill, painter
- I think art is the opposite of war.

Aubrey Mellor, artistic director, Playbox
- A refined craft elevated by vision or inspiration.

William Wright, curatorial director, Sherman Galleries, Sydney
- For as long as we've been able to hoot, toot, tap bones and make effigies out of bits of clay and other inchoate stuff, art has been integral to our species; the imaginative end of our need to conceptualise.

Simon Tedeschi, pianist
- Art is fashion 100 years too late.

Indiana University Cinema film holdings include Alfred Kinsey's sexually explicit films and videos.

What is Art?

Speaking of Opium: Ownership and (Settler) Colonial Dispossession
JAY HAMMOND Columbia University © (2011) ISSN 1838-­‐0743 103

Borrowing the idea of the 'European Art/Culture system' from historian James Clifford, Coombe reviews the ways in which the terms 'art' and 'culture' shifted their meanings as part of the larger historical project of colonialism, global capitalism and the distribution liberal ideas of autonomy and creative expression.9 Before this shift, art referred primarily to what we would today understand to be craft. A highly specialised skill in a specific industry such as that of the cobbler or luthier fell under the idea of art, while culture referred to an organic growth such as a yogurt culture. Art with a capital A develops in the nineteenth century as the product of the expressive faculties of an autonomous self, often referred to as a 'genius'. Similarly, culture as an organic growth morphs into Culture (capital C) - which refers to the progress of civilisation. Raymond Williams has categorised the nineteenth century notion of Culture into three categories; Culture as 'a process of intellectual, spiritual and aesthetic development' Culture as 'a particular way of life, whether of a people, a period, a group or humanity' and Culture as 'the works and practices of intellectual and especially artistic activity'.10 Hammond, 'Speaking of Opium'. 108
Coombe discusses Art (capital A) as well as Williams' first and third concepts of Culture under the rubric of what she terms 'possessive individualism'. More than anything else, the European Art/Culture system develops as a method of asserting ownership over a wide variety of artifacts, products of creative expression as well as natural resources (such as opium). Art is no longer the product of years of the development of a craft, but an expression of autonomy and individuality that works to assert ownership over that expression. Culture - in Williams' first and third senses, development of the self and/or works and practices of intellect - is also a technology of ownership that is legitimated through colonial notions of the unceasing progress of civilisation. This unceasing progress - which can also be understood as the logic of development - is to be mirrored through a similar progression of the self and its intellectual and artistic expressions. Here we have the fusing of the aforementioned Lockean notions of property with Kantian notions of the 'private' self that exists in contrast to, but as a necessary part of, public life. Liberal autonomy and private property are necessary components of Art as an expression of creative genius and Culture as a sign of the progress of civilisation and the self.