What is good art? When is an artwork a good artwork? What are the minimal conditions it must comply with? What makes good art, anyway? I see three categories: skillfulness, imagination and appreciation.
(Yes, the three categories are borrowed from The Painting Fool.)
It’s an impossible question to answer, of course. But there are some things I believe.
I recognize at least three qualities in a good artwork: technical, artistic and aesthetic quality.
Technical quality — Skillfulness
It must be made technically well: the technical quality of the artwork. Is a line that was meant to be a straight line really a straight line and not finished off in a sloppy way? It also means for instance, that the artwork should keep its original colors when exposed to light or warmth during the years, for example. So, you need to use good, professional, high-end materials: top-quality pigments, top-quality canvas, etc. And in the case of a figurative artwork: does it resemble reality? Also, does the material used largely determine the end result, or is the end result what the artist had in mind? Is it difficult or hard to make? Of course, coincidence may play a role, but should it play the key role, or the only role? In other words, does the artist understand and master the workings of his materials?
Artistic quality — Imagination
Is the artwork original? That would be the first and foremost artistic quality, in my view. There are so many copycats in the art world. And, I know, nobody is 100% original (see my Blank Slate project), but at least you can, no you must try as an artist. So, what is your personal, recognizable ‘visual language’, as it is often called, what is your artistic style, your artistic voice. A distinguishing, unique, original, remarkable expression? No cliché? And, if any, what is you message to the world? What is the purpose of the artwork, the deeper meaning? Is it a relevant – or avant-garde – subject? Is there a story connected to the artwork? Is your artwork part of a series, a project, an oeuvre with numerous artworks? And, does the artwork represent an important step in your development as an artist? Does it have artistic, historic or societal relevance? Does it tell something new? Are you a pioneer? That sort of things.
Aesthetic quality — Appreciation
And of course, does it have aesthetic quality? Is it beautiful, does it please the eye and the mind? Is it nice to look at? Is it appreciated by the – or at least an – audience? Would you or someone like to have it in their home? Does it make you feel happy, a bit more merry, more cheerful?
That’s what I think.
Another question, of course, now is: can, may, should AI, Artificial Intelligence have a role in creating an artwork? And if so, what role?
I will address this topic in another story soon.