WT382 – Are Your Projects Art?

On today’s weekend show, we’re talking about whether our furniture projects qualify as art.

What Are We Talking About

Andrew Prichard asked:

I read a piece in the Independent Newspaper about some students who left a pineapple in an empty case in a museum. It didn’t get removed for weeks because every thought it was supposed to be a work of art. Which got me thinking a bit about the nature of what art is.
Do you consider the end results of your projects to be works for art? There’s a form and function to what we make, but is it also art?

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8 replies on “WT382 – Are Your Projects Art?”

Reality is perception. Just like the pineapple, anything can be art to right person or in the right setting. Art doesn’t come from the initiation, it comes from final project. People make “art” all the time, it doesn’t mean that it is artistic. leaving art critics simply Shallow and Pedantic.

Briefly, I think that taking a lesson from the old story of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” is very useful when considering whether or not something is art.

Excellent topic, enjoyed it! I struggled with the art vs. function issue for years and eventually crossed the line into full-fledged art. Along the way, I merged my love of wood into pure forms of art. I labelled it “wood art”. It was my solution to continue to work with wood but dip my toes in the art world at the same time. My largest exhibition and “claim to fame” in the art world was an exhibition titled “Go Figure”. The grain of wood evolved into abstract forms, framed and hung on walls. A two year foray into sculptural work also combined my love of working with wood and creating purely decorative objects. Long story as to how I got to this point but it is chronicled in two books I wrote. Fast forward to today and I continue to struggle with the art vs. craft issue. I have an affinity to both of these worlds. So this conversation has been going on for years and it typically known as the art vs. craft debate. What is craft? What is art? Function vs. non-functionality or pure form. The “wood art” I referred to earlier in now pulled off the market and I focus on studio furniture but it is hard to say what the future brings. I often seek ways to merge the two disciplines. Norman. http://www.refinededge.com and https://www.youtube.com/WoodskillsCourses

Yes nice topic!
My definition of art is that the object/thing says more than what it is. Most of the examples in the show i think are artistic i.e. showing skill or excellence in execution. This dose not make it art.

A while back i went to a museum wish displayed a 100% ebony (I think) cupboard from the 17th century, our golden age. This was a functional peace at the time, and still is I suppose, and was never mend to be art. In percent time this peace tells a story of that time, the ridiculous wealth of the one commissioning that part. And there need to show this off to others. The abundance of riches now being imported by the sea “trade” (very very big “”).

So the pineapple in the case to me is art, it is telling us a story, holding a mirror, making us think. Not because it has been put there by someone, but because people left it there.

Also the story in something will not be heard by everyone, or at least not the same. This makes art very personal.

I am an artist but not really a woodworker, though I have enjoyed listening to you show for quite a while. I think that the line between art and craft is fuzzy at best. Generally I categorize art as something that has three main components: concept, craft, and “ishness”. Concept is the idea that originally goes into it, craft is how it’s made, and ishness is the feeling the viewer gets when interacting with the finished work. If either the concept or craft are lacking the ishness usually doesn’t happen. So I would say that a well crafted chair is not art unless the viewer has some sort of reaction to it (other than the normal sitting and finding it comfy). Similarly, a few pieces of plywood hot-glued together with a lot of conceptual weight might not be art either, if all the parts don’t contribute to the whole in a meaningful way.

So Marc right before ending the show you stated that, “you were a little short”. Perhaps you should choke up on it a bit or better yet have her try to choke down a little more, the operative word being “try”.

I really wanted to send youna capture of your video. I was having a terible time watching because your video would just all of a sudden go whacky. The images were all intermixed not like digitization where the sound goes in and out and the video stops just parts of Matt would be in the center, while Shannon may have just disapoeared all together. It’s hard to explain but if you want it let me know where to send it.

Best Todd

Btw it’s not 9:03pm it’s 5:03pm on the 22nd so I’m guessing your server time is defaulting to GMT?

There’s come conflation between terms here, and I think this is the crux of the argument.

Craft is the means by which we make things, and can involve very specific highly developed skills such as grain selection or getting the fire just right to sear a steak perfectly.

Art is the creation of something to be appreciated for it’s aesthetics, beauty or emotional power. Designing the marquetry or crafting a new recipe.

A finely crafted item may not be styled to be aesthetically pleasing. An all wood hand plane made by a skilled craftsman, while I may find it pleasing, was not created to be pretty, but functional. It is not art, but fine craft.

Woodworking may include either or both art and craft: Choosing the right grain may be a decision of craft in that it’s skill to get a waterfall edge or matched drawer fronts right, or art in selecting different figures to combine or compliment across a piece to create the desired aesthetic illusion of movement.

You can be a master craftsman without being a skilled artist, and a great artist without having more than a rude grasp of the craft used to produce your pieces. You can also be both, or somewhere along the spectrum.

Function is tangential. Something functional may or may not be artistic, and may or may not be well crafted. A coarsely chainsawed stump may be a perfect picnic seat. An Eames chair could be argued to be both finely crafted in several diciplines and artistic in it’s aesthetics. That does not make the Eames chair upholsterer an artist though.

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