IMHO — Good or Bad, Opinions aren’t Worth a Damn

As artists what we create is art; what others then think of what we create is merely opinion. Good or bad. Everyone is entitled to having one, sure, but opinion isn’t an absolute judgement. Opinions change. What passes for brilliant or, alternatively, banal can quite literally change overnight, due to the vagaries of public opinion.

Critics, professional or those of the self-appointed variety, are typically seen as having some greater insight into the true worth of a work of art. But this is equally suspect. For, ultimately, the judgement of critics is simply opinion masquerading as fact, in an “Emperor’s New Clothes” sort of fashion. Pardon, the pun.

So what are opinions? After all, we’ve all got one, on pretty much every subject under the sun, don’t we? But what are they?

The answer? Everything and nothing. To receive a glowing review or peer endorsement feels like everything, sure. As does the crushing dismissal of one’s artistic merit by some so-called expert. Yet, essentially, opinion can’t alter the inherent value or validity or very “is-ness” of an artwork, be it a painting, photograph, poem or a long work of prose.

In the end, maybe this is the core meaning of the phrase “art for art’s sake”. For is it possible that, once the need for another’s opinion (negative or positive) is removed, the artist is free to create whatever he or she wishes to, without deferring to opinion polls and fickle public consensus?

Hey, don’t simply listen to my thoughts about this idea, though. Take it from someone with far more impeccable artistic credentials than I…

“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”
Andy Warhol

About Lorem Ipsum

Just some guy trying to figure out where the "on" switch is hid on the remote control—ah, forget it. Because, you know what, I'm also the kinda guy who always likes the book waaay more than the movie! View all posts by Lorem Ipsum

4 responses to “IMHO — Good or Bad, Opinions aren’t Worth a Damn

  • ioniamartin

    I adore this. I have been pondering an email I got the other day from someone who asked me to review their book. They said “I just really need someone like you to review my work, maybe then others will pay attention to it.”

    This irked me. For a couple of reasons. #1. Who am I that is supposedly so important that my opinion will sway those of the masses? What if I hate it? Will he then come back and blame me for making everyone run away from it?

    #2. This seems like a lot of pressure for me, 🙂 I review because I want to give my opinion on the books I read and enjoy, or don’t enjoy. You are so right! No matter what a critic thinks, the work is what the work is and is always subjective. Sorry for the hour long comment, but this has been on my mind as of late. You always seem to do that:)

    • Lorem Ipsum

      Thanks, for the hour long comment! Yes, it’s been a bit of a breakthrough, for me, to realise that a good review is still essentially just someone else’s opinion. And, while nice for the ego, it has no “absolute” weight, in deciding the true worth of a piece of art. Just as a bad review doesn’t either, for that matter! I certainly don’t envy your predicament. Might I suggest you tell your thoughtless supplicant to go soak his head? Or would that be too rude 😉

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