Where Art Begins

How Not to Define Art

This is the first in a series of dialogues explaining how to look at art.

Normally you would expect that a dialogue on how to look at art would begin with a definition of art. It would probably go on from there to explain how you should think so you could rationally accept that definition.

But you already know what art is and what you believe it is not! In fact contained in that statement alone are all the elements anyone needs to have an understanding of the visual arts. All of our feelings, ideas, insights and experiences are brought into focus in the first few seconds of looking at a piece of art. So, this instant visual experience encompasses our entire range of thought, feeling and observation. We sense the power behind the object. Whether it is ritual, physical or spiritual, we have a sense of the creative energy that transcends its physical presence. So that in an instant the object is replaced with what is behind its creation. Simply, good or bad, representative or abstract, it moves us in a special way.

The arts provide a communication that is basic to the human spirit. As of late some have a tendency to believe only a class of people with an inherent talent can produce these objects. Some even have gone so far as to say they shouldn’t bother trying to create art or even experience the art that already exists.  They see art as being isolated from the day to day experiences of modern people, stagnating in galleries and museums. But I think the truth of this is that people are confusing the name of the artist and the art’s location location with the basic truth of the art.

Art can inspire, anger, humiliate and delight separately and all at once. It can be used to communicate the knowledge of a society or record the legacy of a society. So truly no matter how you begin to look at art you are looking into the core of our being as humans.

In future installments I will continue this exploration into “Where Art Begins”

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Donald Kolberg graduated with a Fine Arts Degree from California State University, Los Angeles. He taught at the Los Angeles School of Art and co-founded Art Core, an organization dedicated to the open dialogue and display of the work of emerging artists. He continued his Master studies at Otis Art Institute. While at Otis Art Institute his teacher and main influence was internationally recognized painter Arnold Mesches. In Artcore he worked under the guidance of Lydia Takashita. With their teaching Donald learned the value of depth, texture and form in images and surface. He incorporated this into his concept of Life Forms, the portrayal of the human figure as a landscape of life and a celebration of form through Sculpture and Painting.

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