Sunday, January 8, 2012

Reading Response #4 - Differing Artistic Perspectives

After reading three different perspectives on art from Sol Lewitt, Tristan Tzara, and Paul Graham, I identified with Graham the most. Lewitt offered sentences which essentially defined what conceptual art and artists were.  Despite the fact that a few of his sentences resonated with me (e.g. Perception of ideas leads to new ideas), overall he doesn't give the artist enough credit or power in an artwork. Instead, he seems to suggest that artists should simply let ideas flow uninterrupted until they are complete as a finished artwork. Thus, he doesn't give artists the opportunity to improve their work as they go along. I feel that this could result in work with a lot of room for improvement.

I also disliked Tzara's piece for a similar reason: he doesn't give the artist enough control over his/her work. Although the surprise of the work from mixing words together may result in an interesting piece, I feel that this method doesn't allow for the artist to really connect with what is being created.

Graham's essay appealed to me because it was all about people, whether they are engineers, mathematicians, technicians, or artists, actively and consciously producing good work. Applied to artists, good work would not just be the result of a good idea. Instead, it would be taking the right steps, appealing to the right people, and taking control of the artwork and doing what is necessary to make it great - even if that meant redoing certain components or even starting over. This allows for the all the best ideas the artist has, regardless of when they come, to become implemented into the finished piece.


  1. I agree with your take on these articles. While Tzara and Sol Lewitt are talking about Generative art, which is autonomous to an extent, it really doesn't feel like an art piece without some control from the artist. I guess there is a balance within generative art of the artist's effort and the autonomous aspects. Now how to define that balance, however, would be a difficult task, I think.

  2. I tend to agree. Tzara takes a very extreme approach to generative art, while Graham tends to appreciate the artist's involvement in the piece.

  3. To clarify some more -- actually none of these articles are specifically dealing with "generative art". Sol Lewitt is discussing "conceptual art" (, and Tzara was a Dadaist ( Both Dada and Conceptual Art share certain elements (e.g. the importance of designing a process rather than a final product, the use of randomness) with Generative Art, but they should not be confused as being the same thing. By discussing these other areas I'm trying to give you the art history context which Generative Art fits into, and has been influenced by.