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What is “Good” Art?

What is “Good” Art?

People often ask the question, “What is good art?” 

What defines “good” art? What even defines “art”? The answer to this question has been debated since probably before we can even determine. In 1997, The New York Times published an article on this topic titled, “Is it art? Is it good? And who says so?” This piece explores the definition of art, and strives to find its true meaning through interviews with  artists, professors, gallery owners, and influential members of the art community. Their responses still resonate today as the world continues to debate the definition, including some of our favorites below: 

  • It seems pretty clear by now that more or less anything can be designated as art. The question is, has it been called art by the so-called ''art system?'' In our century, that's all that makes it art. - Thomas McEvilley, Professor of art history, Rice University; contributing editor, Artforum magazine
  • With my own work, it's art when it looks as if I know what I'm doing and when doing it makes me feel good. It's like a good revolution...I don't think art has a consensus. I don't think 10 people in a room talking about art could agree about whether something is good or bad art. - Richard Prince, Artist 
  • By now the idea of defining art is so remote I don't think anyone would dare to do it.  But there has to be consensus about good art among informed people -- artists, dealers, curators, collectors. Somebody has to be the first to say something is good, but if you put it up the flagpole and nobody salutes it, then there's nothing there. - Robert Rosenblum, Professor of art history, New York University; curator at the Guggenheim Museum
  • Something is a work of art when it has filled its role as therapy for the artist. I don't care about the audience. I'm not working for the audience. The audience is welcome to take what they can. - Louise Bourgeois, Artist
  • I think that art is the ability to show and tell what it means to be alive. It can powerfully visualize, textualize and/or musicalize your experience of the world, and there are a million ways to do it.” - Barbara Kruger, Artist

To us, art is an expression. It connects people of all different backgrounds. It is a universal language. If it is created with intense passion to bring to light an issue, that is good art. If it is created mindlessly to escape the realities of day-to-day life, that is good art too. It is about whether you, the viewer, has a point of connection on a personal level. It does not need a stamp of approval by gallery owners, museum curators, or anyone else. There is no checklist on what makes a work of art good or not good. It is completely individual, and based on a deeper connection either to the artist, the meaning, or what emotions the piece evokes for you. These meanings shift and evolve over time, and it is your ongoing, evolving dialogue with a work of art that makes it good art.  

So, really it is up to you to decide what is art, and what is good art. There are no boundaries, but your own. 

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