What is art?

The sale of Andreas Gursky’s photograph “Rhine II” for over four million dollars at Christie’s in New York sparkled up heated debates in the art world. You can see the picture when you click on the link here: Many art critics rave about it, so it must be good, am I right? At the same time, however, many photographers and artists were not so enthusiastic about it; immediately they were accused of professional jealousy.  I will not beat about the bush, I don’t like it and I am jealous! I would love to sell my pictures for a few millions each! All this debate made me think, what is art? I couldn’t find one precise answer to it. I know art plays an important part in our lives and it enriches us immensely. Can you imagine life without Da Vinci’s paintings or Greek sculptures or Roman frescos? All of these pieces of art influence our feelings and emotions. They do make us stop and stare. So what is art? Creative process allowing us to express ourselves? Or is it just form and content?  Is the result of any manual skill an art? Is it enough to be able to paint a tree or a horse to be able to call oneself an artist?  Or do we need a dose of meaning and sensuousness?  The essence of art is rather elusive and no two people will have the same approach to art, for me however, art involves a dose of quality and beauty, although beauty doesn’t necessary need to be in its classical form. It is more than just a skill, as without some sort of aesthetic quality or when created only for practical reasons, it is craft, not art. A touch of imagination and creativity vital to draw an emotional response from the viewer, that’s an important part of art for me. So why doesn’t Gursky’s image speak to me? Not sure if it is because there is no focus point or the colours are washed out or I see no message there.  I look at this image and think, I have a few images like that and I have never processed them as they are simply….boring. Luckily for Gursky, the image worked for the buyer, so now the owner looks at it hanging on his wall (he must have a massive house as the picture is over 3.5 metres long) but it works even better for the photographer, as he can read my blog (with a huge grin on his face, sitting in the most expensive hotel in Maldives or Seychelles sipping Dom Pérignon ’57) and say to me: LOOOOOSER!!!! So here is my offer for Christie’s Auction House: there is a portfolio of my five images that I am willing to sell for two million dollars each, cool ten millions for a really unique collection. What did one critic, Florence Waters say about “Rheine II”: …. “this image is a vibrant, beautiful and memorable – I should say unforgettable”….”for all its apparent simplicity, the photograph is a statement of dedication to its craft”…”the scale, attention to colour and form of his photography can be read as a deliberate challenge to painting’s status as a higher art form” – that’s exactly what my images presented here are!!! I am serious, or am I….?






  1. JoannaJoanna12-30-2012

    Beata, in your Christmas blog you stated it was your last blog this year, so when I saw a new title the day before yesterday, I thought to myself that something really special must have happened.
    I saw the picture, well, I examined it very carefully, and, believe me, your reaction is fully understandable! The layers of blue-grey and green ARE boring, monotonous and unimaginative. To be honest, they remind me of the curtain material in my mother’s living room.
    I totally agree with your concept of art and beauty. What you have written is not just a theory. Every single picture of yours shows what you think and feel about creating art. Your works speak for themselves. And not being financially rewarded is part of being a great artist.
    I hope that your feelings of bitterness, fury and jealousy, however justified, have weakened by now. It would be a pity to let such negative emotions spoil the joyful spirit of New Year’s Eve. Forget the four million dollars, the Seychelles and the champagne which costs an arm and a leg. 🙂 Happy New Year, Beata.

  2. adminadmin12-31-2012

    Joanna, there were two reasons for writing, first of all, my hopes of spending this week more time outside photographing did not materialise as we have rain, rain and more rain! Secondly, I think the subject is worth a small disscussion but my blog was rather lighthearted, and belive me, I am not bitter or furious! There are plenty of unimaginative works sold for millions and it doesn’t bother me that much (well, perhaps Tracey Emin “My Bed” is an example of so called art that annoys me, as many of the students will confirm that their beds look like that so I find it very difficult to call it art). Apart from that, I giggled when writing this blog and if ever I sell one of my pictures from this blog that would be very funny! Anyway, let’s finish this year with champagne in our hands (albeit not Dom Perignon) and in our own paradise, whatever it is! Happy New Year!

    • RosangelaRosangela01-22-2013

      i thinks that this art work is like a abrtsact type painting, the techniques that the painter used was, the collisions of the colors, the colors that he/she put was in a way i think is very good, because the colors are attacking each other. the elements and principals that the painter used are, line,shape,form,unity,space. i think these are the ones because the painter showed all these things and as well making it obvious. i think this was a great piece because the colors makes me feel good in a way, its really good to look at. Some thing to improve on is to lessen the green because it looks like that the green is dominant, but i would rather like it if all the colors are even.

  3. adminadmin01-23-2013

    Well Rosaangela, that’s the beauty of art, different things appeal to different people! I don’t like his work, but perhaps as you suggested, removing green or going monochromatic might make this photo more appealing to me.

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