Dogman, Peanuts, Jackson Pollock: The True Meaning of Art

What is art? By literal definition, art is “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.” I believe we could all agree that art is basically the expression of the light and darks of human nature in an intelligent, skillful, and often creative manner. We can mostly agree that the Sistine Chapel is art, but how come we do not all agree With this in mind, then, would things such as comics, movies, and video games qualify as legit art forms or are they merely cheap, crude comic relief for the masses.

To answer this, why not think about the definition of art again. It should express the high and lows of human nature in an intelligent manner. For example, the comic Dogman most certainly does not do this. There are no heavy debates, thoughtful epiphanies, or deep thoughts in it. It is a childish form of escapism. At the same time, though, let’s take the comic Peanuts by Charles Shultz.

Peanuts has colorful characters that are relatable, though sometimes exaggerated they often dealing with very real issues, though in the succinct, humorous form that a comic demands. For example, in the one comic, the main character, Charlie Brown, decides that he will not ask the other children to play with him, but will wait for them to ask him. At the end, he concludes he wasted a day, as nobody came by. Though expressed in the “cheap” comic form, Charles Shultz has shown readers the human nature while at the same time staying true to the callings of a comic. While some may argue comics in themselves are too easy and cheap to ever be considered art, it does creatively and intelligently express humanity. I believe, personally, that even the most basic forms of entertainment such as comics and movies can be artistic if done properly.

Why not look at another often considered art form, though? Paintings are often considered art, and often can not only express human nature, but also bring us new thoughts, ideas, and perspectives. Just because painting is one of the best known ways of expressing art though, does not make all paintings art.

Let us take Jackson Pollock’s Full Fathom Five, an abstract style of art. What about it reveals the heart of man? What about it is relatable to every human heart? What about it expresses a new, thoughtful expression that makes us think deeper about life? Nothing about it, in my opinion, is really artful. It is the random slapping together of sketch material. The only artistic thought that can be derived from it is that the chaos in the work can be a reflection of the chaos and disorder in the creator’s heart, but in it of itself, the work contains no inner beauty or thoughtfulness. Any unskillful, unthinking person who had little thought for humanity or a new expression could have made it.

Though I am not an expert on “art,” I do believe that with this perspective, one can learn not to be too harsh, yet at the same time not except every piece of work someone makes as art. It helps us think deeper about the things presented to us and to not reject or accept something just because of popular opinion or history.

Note: This is all personal opinion. I am not a major or even minor in art in any way, but this is merely personal observations. This was not written with any intentions of hurting anybody, merely expressing personal opinion.


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