Body Art Barbie?

This article (see link at bottom) definitely falls under “just when you think you have seen it all” category. My first thought was, “Oh! Where do I get one??” But, as fast as the vision of playing with dolls again on Christmas morning came, it was replaced with the following questions.

“What is art?

Is there such a thing as “High Art” versus “Low Art”?

Who determines if it is bad art or good art?

Should “that art” be censored?

First, I guess full disclosure is in order. Yes, I do have a tatoo. And to answer the rest of the prurient questions . . . No, I don’t regret getting it. Yes, I got it in college. No, I wasn’t drunk or even tipsy when I got it. Yes, it did hurt. No, I probably wouldn’t get another. Now that we have that out-of-the-way, back to my questions.

What is Art?

For me, this is an easy answer. Art is whatever aesthetically pleases the eye. Therefore, it can come in any form or medium. Art hangs in a gallery or on the family fridge. Art can be the carvings on the side of a building or the vignette in the store front window. Art is the doodle on paper or the kindergarten collage. Art can be inked onto the body or carved permanently onto a tree.

The artist creates their work twice. First the idea is born in their mind’s eye and then in physical world. Simply put, Art is thought and creativity simply manifested in physical form.

Is there such a thing as “High Art” versus “Low Art”?

Yes and No. A couple years ago, I watched Mike Meyers’ interview on Inside the Actor’s Studio. He described acting as a constant battle between comedic acting and dramatic “Oscar” worthy acting. Critics would call his work “low” because it played to the base audience. Meyers said, they are both worthy of consideration, but simply fill different needs. The craft of Comedy is just as important and necessary (and often harder to create effortlessly) as Laurence Olivier performing Hamlet.

The same can be said for physical art. We revere the grand master’s works of art hung in the Louvre. But even Picasso made cheap doodles on the back of napkins when he was sitting at the bar with his friends. If the barmaid took that doodle home and had it framed, does that raise image’s status? It might. Should it?

Is the simple flower design made of sand any different or less worthy than the more elaborate chalk drawing?

Both works of art cause the viewer to pause, ponder and feel.

Both works created something where nothing existed in the space prior to the drawing!

Is the Sidewalk Art any less amazing than the Botticelli?


Who determines if it is good art or bad art?

First the creator and then the viewer.

Artists are notorious for their “self critiques”. Self Critiques can have positive and negative qualities. The positives come out when Artist’s push their work further. It is creating an atmosphere that let’s you edit your work. Think, too much of this, not enough of that. Was this my vision? Can I create my vision given the constraints of my project & materials? We are like the chef tasting the soup. Not just, does it need more pepper, maybe a bit more salt? But does it make the statement intended. Is it sufficiently complex to intrigue the view but simple enough for them to “get” your vision.

The negative comes when we become too close to our work. Artists see every flaw and wrinkle with our work. We pick it to pieces, and if we are not careful, we can talk ourselves out of good things. Beyond a doubt, the worst flaw of self review is hubris. The notion that nothing is wrong and I am above all criticism. It is okay to be confident about your work, but to not recognize that there is always something that can be improved, in my mind, is the height of arrogance.

Finally, the viewer and audience determine how art is ultimately received. The viewer is nothing but judgemental. The artist can’t stop the audience from liking or disliking their work! It just happens automatically, kind of like breathing. Which brings up the follow-up question. Does “bad” art exist?

You have your choice to take either painting home. Which do you choose?

Miro or Skelton?

Is the one not picked bad art? Certainly not. Your choice was a matter of taste.

But, does bad taste make it bad art? I’d still say, NO. Just because it lacks taste, again doesn’t make it bad. At the end of the day, there is no “bad art”. You either like it or ya don’t. remember the saying, “someone’s trash is always someone else’s treasure.”

Should “that art” be censored?

Expression through art embodies the very essence of free speech. Whether is is commercial advertisement or gallery art, the message is sent to the viewer. Censorship, in my mind, is the slippery slope for a free society. When you start to erode expression, society suffers. My work may be loved and revered today, but what happens when we pick winners and losers. I may lose that very freedom when I come out of favor tomorrow. You may not like it, but don’t censor it.

Odd to think, but Art is also capitalism in action. Artists create because they want to, but also because it provides a wage. There is money to be made or lost. The markets will weed out & reward the successful. Art will find it’s niche audience.

So what does all of this art talk have to do with Body Art Barbie? Everything.

Believe it or not, I regularly ask my self the questions above. When I saw the picture of Barbie, I was immediately drawn to her pretty pink hair. The green one shoulder dress framed her face perfectly. The flowers on her neck and arm reminded me of the hand painted flowers on a Pierre-Jouet Champagne bottle. I thought she was beautiful.

She may not be to everyone’s tastes, but that doesn’t mean she should not have been created. If you don’t like her, it’s fine to move on down the aisle.


About julia

Modern Art Quilter Funky Designer Fiber Art'er Dog Lover
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2 Responses to Body Art Barbie?

  1. autisticook says:

    Great insights! Although I had to read that CBS article as well and stumbled across this:

    “I don’t think it’s appropriate for little girls to be having Barbies with tattoos all over,” parent Reye Griffith said Thursday.

    And it is somehow perfectly fine for little girls to be having Barbies with unnaturally big boobs and slim waists? And where are the little boys in that statement? Urghhhh. Being a feminist is such hard work.

    I like the explanation you’ve given of the process between the artist and the viewer. I think something similar happens between writers and readers. Was talking about that earlier today over at Mados’s blog, about perfect blog posts that don’t seem to get as many comments as rough or even unfinished posts.

    • julia says:

      Well thanks for finding Barbie. It was fun to go back and read.

      Perfect blog posts are like perfect art pieces. I don’t think that they exist. EVER. There are always design flaws. And you/we as the artist/writer will still stand back and see that “one wee little section that could just use a little more tweaking”

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