Art and Creation (Part 7): The Duration Of Art

This is part 7 of a blog series where I share some thoughts on “art and creation”. I have prepared various blogs inspired by a range of sources from Kabbalah to Artificial Intelligence. Do not expect to find definitive answers. The aim here is to raise questions and offer entertaining thoughts.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In previous blogs I discussed two basic qualities of every creation – uniqueness and lastingness – and explored the idea of viewing artworks as fractals. One of the conclusions was that the parts of the artwork, are also artworks of their own; even a tiny brushstroke in the corner of a painting, is a single creation and, at the same time, a part of a greater whole.

If the creative process is a pleasant process (see part 5), then an artwork, e.g. a painting, grants more pleasure to the maker the longer the creative process lasts. The more invested the creator in the artwork, the more intense and well-balanced the experience.

Maybe this is a reason behind the repetitiveness and complexity of decorative motives. A brilliant example is Islamic art.

The Shah Nematollah Vali Shrine, Mahan, Iran, 1431

Someone with no understanding of art, would think that painting a hundred straight lines on a vase would be a dull creative experience, but this is simply not the case. Each line is unique. Each line is a creation. Each line is an engaging act with lasting consequences.

The Duration of Artistic Production And Aesthetic Appreciation

Militia Company of District XI under the Command of Captain Reynier Reael, Known as ‘The Meagre Company’ , Frans Hals and Pieter Cobre, 1637, Rijksmuseum.

Back in the 17th century, a painting of, let’s say, Frans Hals demanded multiple days, months or even years to be finished. The level of technical skill and training that went into just one artwork is astonishing.

An oak tree,  Michael Craig-Martin, 1973,

Then take a look at Duchamp’s fountain or another conceptual piece like Martin’s Oak Tree. The amount of effort needed to make such pieces of art is different. In conceptual art and all its offspring, the emphasis is not on the making but on the thinking side of the creation. In a way, I think that this idealism of (extreme) conceptual art and its disregard for all things material, is the closest art has ever been to a hubris against itself, but that is not where I am getting at.

It is evident right away, that if a new concept is all it takes to create art, then the creative process is drastically shortened. Of course this is not absolute. A conceptual piece can take an incredible amount of effort to make as well. However, we can argue, that art in general is taking less and less time both to make and enjoy.

For example, a Richard Wagner musical piece would take hours to make and hours to experience. Now with YouTube, a 2-minute track is all you need. In many instances, to create a musical piece you just need a few minutes, as is the case with many rappers who claim to freestyle their lyrics on the spot while recording (there are many exceptions here of course).

Long Story Short

Long story short, yes, art is taking less and less time to make and less time to enjoy. The period of artistic creation and the duration of the aesthetic appreciation are drastically shorter than they used to be.

Here, it is important to clarify that I am not making a judgement. This is just an observation. In a next blog I will try to explain why this is happening, what I think will happen in the future, and whether that is good, bad, or simply different.

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