What art is and what it is not

Concise art theory for our times

TEXT BY A. A. Magnani

Pierro Manzoni, Uovo no.11, 1960, ©

What art is not and
what it does not

1. It does not have a purpose – the purpose belongs to the artist.

2. The world does not change through it. It neither acts alone nor is it omnipotent.

3. There is neither an absolutely appropriate content nor an ideal form of expression for it. But there seems to be limitations.

4. It offers no particularly deeper apprehension of reality than other corresponding forms of human activity.

5. It does not have specific movements that better convey, relative to other, its content, or demonstrate a higher quality – what matters is their individual cohesion.

6. It does not have comprehensive cohesion between its forms. It is composed of a variety of media with individual characteristics and themes (e.g music ≠ painting ≠ dance).

7. It is not a whim of one person for the sake of it. It is socially and historically conditioned even as a whim.

What art is
at the moment

It is every time a subjective proposition, in its historical, social and cultural determination and mediation, that is put forward in relatively abstract terms with the use of an invented medium and form with regards to an issue deemed worthwhile by the artist(s). It endeavours to convey artistically and in aesthetic abstraction the perception of the artist(s) regarding a matter of social and/or physical reality, by appealing to the spectator’s sensorial, affective and intellectual faculties.

It transmutates, intentionally or not, the individual perception, speculation and proposition of the artist(s) artistically with the aim of pleasure and wonderment in the level of imagination of the spectator. It is always a historically determined and socially mediated cultural expression that is every time delimited in scope, character and outcome and contributes to some form of apprehension, preservation or sublation, within its remit, of the state of things.