Who decides what’s art and what is not art?
(Hahahahaha that’s a trick question we all know who decides)
What is art?
And who decides what is art?
Well we all know – or if you think about it, we should know – the answer to the second question.
Men decide what is art.
And guess what?
Art is what men do. Craft is what women do. And craft is lesser.
You think I am making this up?
I am not.
I read a book a few years ago – I can’t remember the title but it turns out this conversation is still ongoing – about art and craft. The TLDR is that at the beginning of the 19th century, there was a debate about art. What is it?
And the TLDR on that is that basically, if women do it, it’s craft, but if men do it, it’s art.
Crafts can include weaving, carving, pottery, embroidery, macrame, beading, sewing, quilting, and many other forms.Eden Gallery
Quick question: Who usually does the weaving and the embroidery and the sewing and the quilting?
OK, they included carving in the list, but the rest – it’s women.
And, NB, if men do it, it becomes art. When men design and sew clothes, they are tailors or even fashion designers. When men cook, they are chefs. You get the picture.
This entire piece on the debate is really interesting, but this quotation sums it up: If it’s useful and used in the home (that is, if WOMEN make it), it’s not art. Only art that exists for art’s sake is art.
Craftspeople traditionally made items that had a domestic function; even those of a high quality didn’t have the same luxury status as art, which has no practical purpose. This distinction gave the crafts a lower status, and craftspeople were considered working class, while artists often moved in high society circles.Eden Gallery
Mr T and I went on a sculpture tour last night. We saw a piece – photo above – by Michelle Grabner, a Milwaukee artist who teaches at the Art Institute in Chicago. This piece was clearly part of this series: “Many are sculptural casts of hand-knitted and crocheted blankets that reflect her career-long interest in domestic environments and everyday life.” (Source)
Not to mention challenge the ideology that craft <> art. She is making ART out of a CRAFT.
Grabner has been criticized as being a “soccer mom.” In a 2014 New York Times review of her show, a critic called her a “soccer mom” and said her art was “bland.”
Nothing in all this is more interesting than the unexamined sociological background of the whole. If the show were a satire of the artist as a comfortably middle-class tenured professor and soccer mom, it would be funny and possibly illuminating, but it’s not.
Is being a soccer mom bad?
Can soccer moms not create art?
I am reminded of the debate that Jennifer Weiner has been waging on the behalf of female writers against the patriarchy. She notes that when women write about women’s lives, the books are dismissed as “chick lit,” but when men (like Jonathan Frazen – full disclosure I HATE HIS BOOKS) do it, it’s literature.
Do I think I should be getting all of the attention that Jonathan “Genius” Franzen gets? Nope. Would I like to be taken at least as seriously as a Jonathan Tropper or a Nick Hornby? Absolutely.Jennifer Weiner
She also notes that the majority of the reviewers at the New York Times and the reviews are by men, for men.
However, I think it’s irrefutable that when it comes to picking favorites – those lucky few writers who get the double reviews AND the fawning magazine profile AND the back-page essay space AND the op-ed, or the Q and A edited and condensed by Deborah Solomon – the Times tends to pick white guys. Usually white guys living in Brooklyn or Manhattan, white guys who either have MFAs or teach at MFA programs…white guys who, I suspect, remind the Times’ powers-that-be of themselves, minus twenty years and plus some hair.Jennifer Weiner
Mr T and I watched a woman weave a scarf.
She designed the scarf herself. She threaded the loom. She shuttled every single thread through, one by one.
This, my friends, is what the art world considered and still considers to be “craft,” which, by their own admission, is not as worthy as “art.”
What do you think? Is it art?