Who decided that Great Art is something that only appeals to a few, something that most of us don't get, or don't see. Who decided that if something appeals to millions, makes millions feel better, melancholic or sad, it can't be Great Art? Good movies, beautiful artwork, songs and books are instantly dismissed by the critics, because they are too "commercial". As soon as a lot of people like something, the critics decide it is too mainstream, and therefore it can't be Great Art.
So, let's take a look at Great Art from the past.
A lot of the paintings we now know (or have been told) to be Great Art, were in fact commissioned works. These painters had to pay the bills.
Shakespeare didn't write great plays, because he was a Great Writer, but because the audience liked his first play, so he went on writing the way he did. How "commercial" is that? Hey, he had a family to feed.
Charles Dickens wrote "A Christmas Carol" in the middle of summer, because he needed money, he was broke.
Rembrandt painted "De Nachtwacht", because he was paid to do that.
Really, I'm serious. Just compare Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" to, let's say "The Bold and the Beautiful". What's the big difference here? There are two families, two rival families, and the daughter of the one family, Juliet or Macy Spectra, falls in love with the son of the other family, Romeo or Thorne Forrester. Granted, there are no "thou's" or "thee's" in "The Bold and the Beautiful", but apart from the language used, the stories aren't all that different. In both cases the audiences ate it up!
And yet, according to the critics, one is art and the other is crap!
Looking in the dictionary, I find that art (and remember I'm Dutch, so the definitions can differ) is: the craftmanship of creating; the creating of beauty.
Now, there is a very good saying in English: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
If that's true, shouldn't the real definition of art be: that, what moves the greatest number of onlookers, onlisteners, or readers?
There's no real difficulty in being "artistic". I could write you a poem right now!
Cutting my heart, pain
On my mind, in my soul
There, a perfectly "artistic" poem. I didn't even have to think about it very long. Just look for the common denonimators that are used to define art, and you can be an artist.
I once saw a big block of black iron. It actually looked liked a compacted car, or a Borg cube. Looking at it, I thought of titles like; jealousy, or rage, or mental breakdown, something really dark and depressing. Well, that shows my ignorance, because the actual title was: Rooster at Dawn.
I've read somewhere, that art is: Making something very hard, look very easy.
If the critics would keep that in the back of their mind, maybe, just maybe, things we all understand and can relate to, will be considered Great Art in the future.

© 2001 Bertine Centen-Nieuwenkamp