Can you spot great art?

James R

Just this guy, you know?
Staff member
A few quizzes to find out...

True art or fake?
Sort the famous abstract art from art drawn by the quiz author.

Great artist or unknown?
Can you pick the paintings painted by great artists?

Artist or ape?
Can you tell the difference between human art and ape art?

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My scores: 75%, 50%, 100%

There are also some quizzes on great literature, picking the difference between the music of Mozart and Salieri and others...

http://reverent.org/quizzes.html
 
the only more obvious test was the ape or human.

the rest means there is no accounting for taste. lol
 
My scores..

1) 100

2) 92

3) 83

I guess I need to study up on my ape paintings..
 
I don't see the point. What matters is not whether something is called "art," what matters is whether it affects the viewer in a way that art is expected to affect the viewer. The difference between "great art" and anything else, whether you call it "minor art" or "crap," is that great art affects many viewers in the way art is expected to affect its viewers, and everything else does not. But that doesn't mean that it isn't going to affect somebody, somewhere.

If we can see beauty in natural objects that were not created by anybody, then it stands to reason that occasionally we're going to see beauty in unnatural objects that were created by accident, or by artists who aren't very "good."

My case in point is picture #4, the black circle. Why is that called "art"? Because it was painted by a person who is recognized as an artist? It's a fucking black circle, for the goddess' sake! It's just plain stooopid.

On the other hand I somehow guessed that #3 was a fake, but I still liked it and spent some time admiring it. I also appreciated #6, #10 and #11, which I assumed were "art."

Paul Klee is an overhyped fraud. His stuff looks like the work of kindergartners. Albers? It's three fucking squares! I don't mean to malign anyone who finds meaning in these works. But please don't malign me for appreciating the ones I like.

I got 67% in Test #1. I didn't bother taking Test #2, since I'm not well educated about art and don't know what telltales to look for in order to distinguish a famous artist from someone else. (I did not get this job for my knowledge of paintings; I'm a musician and my wife has a degree in literature. :))

And I thought #3 was pointless because I have seen paintings for sale that were no more attractive or inspiring than the ones painted by apes. Nonetheless I got 100% on that one! I guess I've seen enough ape art that I recognize their "school." ;)

BTW, humans are apes. Great Apes, specifically, along with gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans. The gibbons are Lesser Apes. So all of these works were painted by apes.
 
My case in point is picture #4, the black circle. Why is that called "art"? Because it was painted by a person who is recognized as an artist? It's a fucking black circle, for the goddess' sake! It's just plain stooopid.

And yet, still affected you enough to initiate a debate about what constitutes art. Perhaps that's why it counts as art?

I didn't bother taking Test #2, since I'm not well educated about art and don't know what telltales to look for in order to distinguish a famous artist from someone else.

That one's actually pretty easy: the amateur ones are the ones that look like cheap postcard pictures. Everything else is Famous Artist.
 
I don't see the point.

There could be multiple points. For example:

(a) Many people can't tell good art from bad in the same way that art "experts" can.
(b) There's more to a great artwork than initially meets the eye.
(c) The greatness of an artist depends on more than one individual work can convey.
(d) The value of a particular artwork depends on more than just its initial impact on the viewer.
(e) What counts as "art" at all depends very much on the context of its creation/exhibition/viewer.
(f) Great art doesn't have to be "complicated" to be great.
(g) Great art doesn't necessarily require a long time or great skill to construct.
(h) A lot of average art is still quite passable as art.

What matters is not whether something is called "art," what matters is whether it affects the viewer in a way that art is expected to affect the viewer. The difference between "great art" and anything else, whether you call it "minor art" or "crap," is that great art affects many viewers in the way art is expected to affect its viewers, and everything else does not. But that doesn't mean that it isn't going to affect somebody, somewhere.

I agree with most of this.

My case in point is picture #4, the black circle. Why is that called "art"? Because it was painted by a person who is recognized as an artist? It's a fucking black circle, for the goddess' sake! It's just plain stooopid.

Maybe it would be worth looking at: who painted it, when it was painted, what went before, what came after. In other words, the context.

Paul Klee is an overhyped fraud.

In your opinion....

Albers? It's three fucking squares!

Yes. Interesting, no?

BTW, humans are apes. Great Apes, specifically, along with gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans. The gibbons are Lesser Apes. So all of these works were painted by apes.

I'm not sure if humans are normally classified as apes. Humans are hominids. Though I agree we're probably splitting hairs when we share 98% of our DNA (or whatever the figure is). The terminology used here is not mine, by the way - I just quoted the writer of the quiz.
 
Isn't this an "eye of the beholder" sort of thing?

~String

Not really.

Always pay attention to how many intellectual and cultural elitists are fawning over it for starters.
Next, try to gauge the going price for the work in question.
How complicated, ugly, and meaningless is it? That's also part of the equation.
 
I looked at the first page and decided not to participate in the "test".

As I recall, during his lifetime, JS Bach was pretty much a person of no particular importance - just a church organist with a bunch of hungry kids. A couple hundred years later and he is called a "creative genius". A few years after that it is disclosed that he was also a bit of a plagiarist. :eek: While contemporary society may well call him an artistic genius, the guys he ripped off might not share that perspective.

I have been encountering reruns of this topic for my entire professional life now. It has gotten a bit worse recently with the onslaught of the conceptualists.

Monkey paintings, elephant paintings, child prodigies, artless artists, machine paintings and those terrible Chinese (or flakey American 'artiste') assembly line paintings....all masquerade as something that they are not. Speaking of which, hows about the great forgeries? Are those "art" just like the originals?

Hows about a photograph that has been Photo-Shopped and then transferred to canvas via chemical/mechanical means?

Then there was the old British retiree who painstakingly hand rendered and coloured a single 20 pound note each week for more than 20 years, which he then spent on his rent, food and a beer at the pub until he got caught and given a proper pension. Were those 20 pound notes "art"? Some would say much more so than a lot of what is hawked in the galleries as such.

Many years ago, there was a stringent set of conditions that an object needed to meet in order to be called "art". Since the time of Dada ("anti - art" by Marcel Duchamps) and his Russian Army barracks urinal display to be followed by the more contemporary version - "conceptual art" (originally meant to separate "art" from "money" but now more about public performance) the credo of the profession appears to have become "anything goes, just make sure to get paid well!".

I gravitate to the old standards myself, but then, I don't believe that everybody (or everything) has the right to be whatever they feel like at the moment simply by proclamation.
 
I can't tell , today, which art is supposed to be valuable and which is not. I think that the prices for many artists today are being pumped up by their managers that sell their art at gallaries. I can tell who the great masters were for I took college classes about them. But we are dealing with only newer artists today and sometimes the work they do don't impress me as worth their weight in spit.
 
83%
100%
100%

I think my scores have less to do with my ability to spot "good" or "bad" art, but more to do with being able to remember things, just having a good memory.

There were a few paintings that I had either seen or seen similar works by the artist before (Gauguin, Matisse, Pissaro, Monet, Renoir, Rothko, Mondrian and Kandinsky)

It probably also helped that I spent a few hours in an art museum the other day and actually looked at some paintings by a few of these artists (unfortunately they didn't display any ape art)

The ones that caught me out in the first quiz were the Klee and the Albers (1st and last ones).

Klee is terrible, but I remember an old art teacher telling me that if a painting can incite any kind of emotion in you (even disgust) then the artist has done their job. Is thinking someone is a pretentious cock an emotion?
 
I can't tell , today, which art is supposed to be valuable and which is not. I think that the prices for many artists today are being pumped up by their managers that sell their art at gallaries. I can tell who the great masters were for I took college classes about them. But we are dealing with only newer artists today and sometimes the work they do don't impress me as worth their weight in spit.

Did you read my check list?

Always pay attention to how many intellectual and cultural elitists are fawning over it for starters.
Next, try to gauge the going price for the work in question.
How complicated, ugly, and meaningless is it? That's also part of the equation.

If a bunch of smart people say it's brilliant, that's a plus. Especially if it gets a lot of coverage.
If it's priced higher than what the average is for a similar work, that's also a plus. Or higher than the going average for any work in it's field (canvas, photo, sculpture, film, etc.)
If it's especially complex, doesn't make sense, or just doesn't feel right, but smart people assure you that it's brilliant, that's a big plus. It just means that you don't understand or appreciate great art. You should study more, so you don't come off as an uncultured dolt.

Or, you could reverse those values. You'd also probably find great art. At least, that's what I was told by someone who was smart, and knew art.

Wow. How profound.
 
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50% (I chose all as art).
Null for the rest (I did not participate).
 
1. 83% [3 wrong, 2 true art as fake, one fake as true art]
2. 100% [fluke, just marked the Eisenhower and Hitler as unknown, other styles pretty much evident - the Churchills were pathetic!]
3. 100% - I thought they were easy to distinguish based on composition
 
All you need do is go into an art museum to realise that art can be whatever you want it to be!

50%
75%
100%

No prior art knowledge and correctly picked out the Hitler fakes. Very pleased.
 
I can't tell , today, which art is supposed to be valuable and which is not. I think that the prices for many artists today are being pumped up by their managers that sell their art at gallaries. I can tell who the great masters were for I took college classes about them. But we are dealing with only newer artists today and sometimes the work they do don't impress me as worth their weight in spit.


Its true that its harder to tell with modern art but all "good" art fulfills four conditions: design, proportion, balance and harmony.

Not really.

Always pay attention to how many intellectual and cultural elitists are fawning over it for starters.
Next, try to gauge the going price for the work in question.
How complicated, ugly, and meaningless is it? That's also part of the equation.

Or live with an artist [doesn't have to be a good one, you may not know what you like in art but you always know when its really bad] for a suitable number of years and osmotically absorb art knowledge while being forced to pose for sketches, charcoal and oils. Also visit every museum wherever you go after receiving long comprehensive discourses on what they contain.
 
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