Friday, January 22, 2010

Is it art? The PPP test

I found an article about how to identify real art, they call it PPP art test.


An artwork too involved in the past tends to be derivative and insipidly decorative. Whatever the genre, it is not art but just a pretty picture.

An artwork ignorant of visual history tends to be naive in concept and/or realization. Amusing and childlike, this kind of art fails to make use of thousands of years of artistic creation. Idiot savants are as rare in art as they are elsewhere.


An artwork too much of its time is immediately attractive but doesn’t age well. Lacking a universal aspect that fine art embodies, its destiny is time-capsule nostalgia. Several over-hyped contemporary artists come to mind.

An artwork that does not vibrate with its time fails one of the primary missions of art: to be a predictive and interpretive tool of the culture. From Michelangelo, to Vermeer, to Picasso, to Warhol—all of these great artists resonated like tuning forks with the world around them.


An artwork too autobiographical becomes “dear diary”. While paintings by the very self-involved or the insane may be vivid and telling, the chronicle of a personal pathology is not art.

An artwork with too little personal imprint lacks originality and vision. This failing deprives the viewer of one of the primary joys of art: to leave personal limitations behind and experience the world through another’s inciteful, inventive persona.

Next time you walk into a gallery and can’t quite connect with the art, try testing it for its PAST PRESENT PERSONAL balance. Odds are, you’ll get a feel for the substance, intent and quality of the work a lot more quickly than usual._

If it is to believe the Personal test, Frida Kahlo and many other artists wouldn’t be called artists anymore.

The problem really is not if it is art or not. We are all different and we certainly respond to different forms of art. Some of my students got fascinated with a very detailed and decorative art on feathers for example, cute little birds, bright flowers and well executed trees. And though, I cannot even question if it is art or not, the issue here is the quality and value of this kind of painting.

There is some true in this test though, it is not enough to have the skills and technique of a great master to produce art. You must reflect your own time intelligently, otherwise you may only produce some decorations. On the other hand without technique, skills and experience it is hard to produce art. Even Picasso studied many years from observation from an early age. Once you acquired the basics and a minimum of skills you can engage on the way of experimenting, which sometimes can last a life-time. But if it is art or not, only time will tell. I doubt that any test can help.

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