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We always think of art as being aesthetically beautiful and culturally revolutionary. The real question is, what actually makes it good?
"Good" art is produced by individuals who want to share their unique and dynamic worlds with others, whether it be through coherent storytelling, pure abstraction, or an amalgam of the two.
Artists do not necessarily produce pieces that they believe audiences would want; they offer their own perspectives on reality (and perhaps even beyond) through works they feel audiences should try to grasp and think about.
It then becomes a matter of whether or not people are willing to accept ideas that legitimately challenge societal norms, beliefs and values. The goal is to not sway people into agreeing with them per se, but rather to get them contemplating why the artist might have chosen that particular direction for their medium, and thus relating it back to what is happening in the real world.
"Good" art, as it seems, is never asked for, because the audience never knows what they are going to get. "Good" art is timeless and memorable, because it is the ultimate conundrum that allows for open interpretation, which in turn will always bring people from any generation back to it for further study and discussion.
While the surface of quality art is undoubtedly visual appeal, beneath that visage lies the intrinsic complexities of human and physical nature as understood through the lens of the artist. The work might be a reflection of what they see - the realist view - or what they wish to see - the escapist view.
"Good" art, simply put, expands people's tastes. It helps develop their judgment about what is good or bad in any sense of the terms. This is why the public should never be pandered to; if we keep asking for or expecting the same outcomes every time, there will be little room for experimentation, education, reflexivity - and by extension, creativity.
Media is arguably the greatest influence on our lives in this age. Regardless the form it takes, we use its messages as tools for moral teachings. What is the consequence for doing so? For the most part, audiences would much rather be spared the poetic undertones of the artist's approach towards conflict resolution, and instead adopt the easiest methods from more digestible pieces (all puns intended) on how we should face everyday struggles.
But as it turns out, not everything is always clear-cut in the grand scheme of things. Art does not try to feed us foolproof solutions to our issues. The world itself does not function in a predictable manner, and we must strive to prepare ourselves for uncertainties as a result. This is a maxim we should be passing on to our youth as well, because the way in which they interpret—often galvanizing—imageries has subtle implications for how they might respond to those concepts in the future.
My apologies, have I gone off on a bit of a tangent? Well, that is precisely what "good" art has the potential to do to a person. It is engaging, not only in how its visual charm captivates us, but also in the way it forces us to truly ponder why a certain piece might have been conceived.
"Good" art may also be a visual response to greater observations that can be found within our very own surroundings. It is up to us to try and solve that puzzle, and provide our own responses by virtue of concrete discourse and carefully orchestrated actions.
Whether intentionally or inadvertently, the artist has actualized social commentary through what others would normally regard as mere commodities and/or diversions from real-world affairs. Artistic merit comes from what people make of any given art form—assuming that they find any connection at all.
This is my take on the art industry, one that is forever subject to debate in terms of what its goals are. While even my arguments can be contested, there is no doubt that art gets us talking.