There is such a thing as bad art; look into it

By Foster Nicholas | Reporter

There is a common fallacy that is used regularly stating there is no such thing as bad artwork; I respectfully and wholeheartedly disagree. To those who believe there is no such thing as “good” or “bad” art, respectively, you’re a fool.

Just because visual art is a form of creative expression doesn’t mean it’s without rules. Whether a painting is a display of cubism, impressionism, portraiture, mixed media or some other medium, composition and talent always factor in. If someone would look through a local gallery, they would find pieces priced in the thousands that simply will never sell. In order for a piece to sell, it must command an unwavering respect that most artists will never receive.

Many people believe nowadays that chance, not skill, makes art popular. This theory is only half true. In today’s culture, in order for something to become highly sought after, it must first become popular to a certain degree. However, in a time when collecting art has become an expensive undertaking, forsaking skill for mere popularity is a short-sighted and reckless investment that will never see an appropriate return in the future. Popularity shifts, trends change and if someone chooses to collect artwork that lacks honed skill and balance, they’re throwing their money away.

Today’s collectors make the mistake of being influenced by the trendsetters of social media, where followers promote terrible artwork. What is now thought to be an irresistible piece that blogs and podcasts are buzzing about, will undoubtedly someday lose those same likes and buzz. What’s left over is without skill and is as valuable as last year’s fashion when the owner’s tastes changes, and they will be lucky to sell that same piece of art for one-tenth of the price they paid for it.

In the end, artistic merit drives long-term commercial success. Composition, fundamental artistic balance, appropriate scale and unparalleled talent will hold value that carries longevity. Is luck involved to a degree? Sure.

However, appeal matters as well. Popularity begets popularity, and social influence has a lot to do with what short-sighted individuals spend their money on. As fads form, people who don’t know the first thing about art make famous what was once an ill-attempted sketch, which is ridiculous.

Instead of reaching for the seriously questionable art that everyone is buzzing about today, people ought to do themselves a favor and learn a little about what holds value over decades before dropping $15,000 on a new painting for the living room. Instead of letting trends dictate taste, one would be well advised to steer clear of the comings and goings of who’s “so cool” right now, unless they wish for their “cool” investments in art to fade into oblivion.