When is Real Art Fake

As a self-taught artist I have not received an extensive introduction to art philosophy. Yet, I admit I am curious, and I have once or twice been confronted with the question of my art being “fake.”

My curiosity was recently rekindled as I read another artist’s expression of fear that she might unwittingly produce a “fake” piece. Obviously she had no idea what the definition of such a piece would be, so she had no clue as to how to avoid the creation of a fake.

Is there a definition? There is, but it is hard to track down. And I propose it is hard to track down because it is subjective.

I was first introduced to the concept of fake art by a well-educated modern artist friend of mine, who told me that realistic art is the most phony art produced. The explanation I was given, was that representational art requires the artist to create a “deception” in 2-D, so that it looks 3-D.

I personally call that skill, but apparently in certain circles it is considered nothing more than pretentious.

Later internet searches offered me little clarification on the topic, although the Art Renewal Center

(www.artrenewal.org) came close. Their confrontational essays aimed at the theoretical strongholds of modern art’s supposed superiority over representational art, was relevant. They do defend realistic representational art as requiring superior artistic “skill.”

As for the specific topic of “real vs fake,” though, I found it directly addressed at http://www.reverent.org, where they offer an online quiz to test personal ability in spotting fake art. Commentary by test takers there seemed to indicate that any art, no matter the style, was “real” so long as it was intentionally created… and, of course, not computer aided.

By this definition, which is far more popular than it is elite, realistic and modern art are equally intentional, and therefore equally real.

My personal observation is that any definition of fake (original) art is subjective, because preference is subjective, and preference plays a role in this definition.

Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so original art labeled “fake” is nothing more than a construct of the human mind. This construct started out as a marketing strategy meant to elevate the status of nonsensical art.

Just as there will always be those who prefer nonsensical art for the challenge of interpretation (the game of it feels intellectual), so there will also be those who prefer art to speak plainly for itself (to evoke emotion).

Both kinds of art provide enjoyment, which is what art appreciation is all about.

So, I say to my fellow artists and art collectors, don’t worry about it unless you aim to rub elbows with the relatively small, though admittedly wealthy elitist groups who prefer to muse over nonsensical art and its interpretation. In any other circle there is no such thing as fake original art.

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