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