“What Makes Good Art?” by Brian Holdsworth

Music written and generously provided by Paul Jernberg. Find out more about his work as a composer here: http://pauljernberg.com

I’ve done a few videos in the past criticizing certain persuasions within art and music, especially in the context of sacred art, and I have to admit, that’s pretty easy to do. It doesn’t take a brilliant or courageous person to debunk something. It’s not, however, all that easy to assert something good or true in it’s place. It’s not easy to propose something that is then subject to the same potential for debunking. And so, to be fair, I thought I owed it to the ideas I’ve criticized to propose criteria that produces good art.

Number 1: it should be revelatory. It should communicate something that the artist has captured that the rest of us could benefit from. Either an experience of beauty, a form that is rarely seen, or a movement that urges us to our highest callings.It should produce in us a gratitude for having been exposed to something that has enriched our understanding of truth, goodness, beauty, or ourselves.

Number 2: it should be skillfully produced. If there are two artists with the same talent and instincts and all other things being equal, but one of them disciplines themselves through practice and good habit so that their ability to produce the art is higher than the artist who does not take those pains, then the one who has made the greater investment and sacrifice should be recognized for having more merit.

Number 3: it should be unique. Someone who has mastered the paintbrush isn’t producing good art if they are only replicating what other artists have done. Say they can masterfully copy a great work of art. That demonstrates, skill, but it isn’t enough to be a photocopier. They should be able to produce something unique. Something that penetrates insights and visions that have not yet been seen.

Number 4: It should inspire. It should produce feelings of humility in its viewers as well as an inspiration to be and do better ourselves. It should ignite something within us to understand that human beings, including ourselves, are capable of great things if we only tap into the virtues that we can choose to start building now if we want to.

Number 5: It should be beautiful. By beauty, I don’t mean flowery or delicate or something like that. I mean as an attribute of being which transcends all our other categories.


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