Aphorisms for Artists by Walter Darby Bannard

Aphorism #78

Recognize good art, don’t identify it.

Art has very high social prestige. However, most people can’t tell the difference between good art and bad art. Therefore there is strong social pressure to find ways to know the difference.

This leads to absorbing what is said to be good art in books and museums. We learn what Rembrandt and Monet and Picasso and Pollock look like, and put these characteristics under the heading of “good art.”

Unfortunately, this often leads not to an improved ability to recognize what is good, but to an association of goodness with style. This, in turn, leads to fashion rather than discrimination, especially in contemporary art.

Seeing art, like making art, is a talent in itself. If you feel it, you get it. If you don’t feel it, art is not for you.

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