What is Great Art?
I wonder what Clyde Butcher would say to me if I were to ask him to explain to me exactly how he feels when he is experiencing the Everglades and taking the amazing photographs of this beautiful place. Would his words come anywhere close to expressing his passion for the Everglades and other natural areas as his photographs do? Would his words be an even better explanation and expression of his feelings towards the Everglades than his photographs? How about Marjory Stoneman Douglas? What if I were to ask her to put her feelings and passion about the Everglades into a painting or into photographs? Would her works of visual art be a better representation of her connection with the Everglades than her literature? I think the better question is can any one person put their feelings for something into multiple forms such as verbal representation, literature, visual arts, or performing arts? You might have your occasional amazing talented person who can pretty much draw any painting, sing any song, or write any piece of literature and considered to be great at it. The reality is, however, that most people have their own individual way of expressing themselves whether it is in the form of art, literature, music, or in words. It all depends as to how they wish to transform their feelings and their passion.
When looking at Clyde Butcher’s photographs in his gallery, I was overcome by being able to see and experience the passion he has for the Everglades. His work showed me an angle of the Everglades that I had never seen before. His photographs opened my eyes to seeing the Everglades in a different way. My question then is this: would his photographs be considered great art? Is Clyde Butcher a great artist?
Before I go on to answer this question from a personal point of view, it is important to address what great art, great literature, great music, etc really means. How can one truly define what great means in reference to something as subjective as art or literature for example? I have been in numerous art, music, dance, and literature classes where the teacher was actually able to give us a set of guidelines to determine whether or not a piece of art or literature was even considered art or literature, let alone being great. Unfortunately, in my path to discover how to determine what anything great is, I have found that none of these sets of guidelines were valid in helping me judge the piece of art.
This brings me to the discussion we had during our lunch at the Loop Road Environmental Education Center today. During our discussion of Killing Mister Watson, the question arose as to whether or not this novel was considered great literature or if Matthiessen was a great writer. That then led to our discussion of judging art. In our discussion, several classmates brought up to the plate their own set of guidelines to determine whether or not a piece of art or literature is great. When first listening to this...