Q&A: What is Good Art?

Davy Mellado

Good = A designation for desired attributes within a specific culture at a specific time

Art = A creation that evokes emotional interest

“Good Art” is when you create something that evokes emotional interest and is widely accepted as desirable throughout a specific culture. Lets break this apart:

  1. In order for something to be good, it must be deemed desirable for a specific culture at a specific time. For example, in 1950s America, it was good for the woman to be the main caretaker of children. But today, it is good for the more interested/available person to be the main caretaker of children. Culture must be specified by type and time in order to define what is “good.”
  2. Evoking emotional interest is the quintessential part of art. Even conceptual art is emotional. For instance Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s artwork highlights the community’s response to installing their work in their city as part of their artwork.

Good art is not completely relative, otherwise, we would have no concept of “great works of art.” The Sistine Chapel, V-J Day in Times Square, The Dark Knight. When you target your culture and time period, you have a quantifiable ruler for quality. Was the Dark Knight made with the highest quality scriptwriting, cinematography, and acting in any movie ever? No. But if you ask an American if the Dark Knight was a good movie, they would answer with the knowledge that most people say yes. Same goes for Eisenstaedt’s photo and Michelangelo’s ceiling.

If art was unemotional and just a set of standards, the V-J photo would have been widely ignored because there is motion blur and film scratches. The sistine chapel ceiling would have been painted over because more talented artists came after Michelangelo. Heath Ledger’s death was tragic, but it undoubtedly increased the emotional interest in the movie because he literally gave his life to that role.

Good art happens at the crossroads between what your specific audience deems as desirable and what evokes emotional interest.

© Davy Mellado, 2022. All rights reserved.