What makes good art and how to recognize it?

Posted by Robert Lange on

What makes good art? Art lovers seem to be on a captivating quest to find answers to this question since… well, always. How to define and recognize “good art”? Is it even possible?

This journey is not a linear path, and since art's essence lies in its subjectivity and ability to resonate with each viewer on a deeply personal level, there are no universal rights or wrongs. Yet, beneath this surface of individual experience, there may lie common threads that guide our appreciation.

The Quest for the Elusive “Good”. What Makes Art Good? 3 Pillars of Good Art

So, how do we navigate this topic? Let's examine what contributes to a work's power and significance.

Technical Proficiency and Skill

A strong foundation is essential for any structure, and so it is with art. The masterful use of any medium, whether paintbrush or chisel, camera or whittling knife, lays the groundwork for artistic expression. A sculptor's precise manipulation of stone, a painter's confident handling of light and shadow—these elements speak to the dedication and expertise honed through years of practice. 

Such technical proficiency allows the artist to translate their vision into a tangible form, imbuing the artwork with a sense of control and purpose. But, since we wonder what makes a good work of art, let's ask ourselves a further question: is technical proficiency enough?

Well, unfortunately (or maybe fortunately?), no!

Beyond Technique: Composition and Design

    Artistry extends far beyond an individual's technical ability. A well-composed piece is what makes us feel something while experiencing art.

    Balance, harmony, and rhythm all play a role, drawing the viewer in and guiding their exploration of the artwork. Consider the placement of figures in a painting, the leading lines in a photograph, or the negative space that complements the form in a design. These choices create a certain atmosphere – and they must be made intentionally to make an artistic impact.

    Original Ideas And Artistic Experience

      Great art doesn't just mimic what has come before. It pushes boundaries, challenges perceptions, and offers a unique perspective on the world. An artist's distinctive voice, personal style, and vision are what make art actually good. They can manifest in unexpected color combinations, unconventional use of materials, or a completely new approach to a familiar subject. By defying expectations, these works spark curiosity and ignite conversations (have you heard of the term “talk trigger” before? That's what good art is!), leaving a lasting impression on the art world.

      The Great Unknown - 30" x 40" oil on panel - Robert Lange

      What Makes Art “Good”? Let's Talk Emotions

      What makes a good work of art: technical skills? Composition? Or originality? Or perhaps the most potent aspect of good art hasn't been revealed yet?

      Many art critics say that what makes art excellent, not only correct, is its ability to evoke emotions.

      A captivating portrait might elicit a sense of tenderness, a vibrant landscape a feeling of awe, or a dramatic sculpture a deep sense of sorrow. Art that resonates with us on an emotional level extends far beyond the physical; it establishes a connection between the artist's experience and our own. This emotional connection is what makes art so powerful, allowing us to see the world through new eyes and feel… more.

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