Computer art/fine Art?

This is to invite artists and art lovers to discuss a question I have heard more than once, whether artworks created digitally are TRUE ART??? A related question concerns paintings derived from photographs and whether the artist is cheating (so to speak) when a photo can be copied electronically as part of an artwork.


This issue begs firstly for a definition of ART (defs. of fine art included as more specific than art):
art –noun Unabridged (v 1.1) - [first five definitions only]
1. the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.
2. the class of objects subject to aesthetic criteria; works of art collectively, as paintings, sculptures, or drawings: a museum of art; an art collection.
3. a field, genre, or category of art: Dance is an art.
4. the fine arts collectively, often excluding architecture: art and architecture.
5. any field using the skills or techniques of art: advertising art; industrial art.

fine art –noun WordNet -
the products of human creativity; works of art collectively; an art exhibition; a fine collection of art [syn: art] 

fine art –noun Unabridged (v 1.1) -
a visual art considered to have been created primarily for aesthetic purposes and judged for its beauty and meaningfulness, specifically, painting, sculpture, drawing, watercolor, graphics, and architecture

fine art– n. American Heritage Dictionary -
1 a Art produced or intended primarily for beauty rather than utility.
b Any of the art forms, such as sculpture, painting, or music, used to create such art. Often used in the plural.
2 Something requiring highly developed techniques and skills: the fine art of teaching.

fine art American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms -
Something requiring highly developed techniques and skills, as in He’s turned lying into a fine art, or The contractor excels in the fine art of demolition. This term alludes to the fine arts, such as music, painting, and sculpture, which require both skill and talent. It is now often used to describe anything that takes skill to do. [First half of 1800s]

One must consider if Art (especially when/if defined as beauty) depends on the eye of the beholder. And are the viewer’s personal tastes paramount; do YOU like a piece or not, does it move you, invoke emotion, bring you pleasure, stimulate thought and reflection, help you live or relive specific moments, inspire you, etc.?

Artists have always sought and used various and unique methods to express themselves. Different forms of art are recognized and accepted by some and not others, with the degree of said recognition variable at any given point in time… this includes styles of expression as well as the media employed.

Technology’s progress continues to change cultural expression. Ongoing revolutions in the graphic arts and photography as well as in computers and the digital fields redefine how communications are conveyed and what they mean.

If we accept that art is an individual’s personal expression of and reactions to the surrounding world, can we fairly put restrictions or qualifiers on that expression? I would argue that the tools do not define the end product; I would argue that the artist’s personal statement is just that, personal. I would argue that any original thing, that is unlike any other thing, is a creation born of imagination.


Is photography ART?? Because it may be precisely representational, photo-realistic, does that make it non-Art? Most people would agree that innumerable photographs are true works of art, so where do we draw the line? Do they become Art only when the photographer gains a wide-enough reputation to be considered successful?

I feel that the reactions of the beholder– together with the passion felt, the originality of approach, and the satisfaction gained by the creator– are one set of standards by which to gauge the value of a work of art. My definition of art is very broad. We could discuss where to draw the line between crafts and art constructs. I would ask, why does there have to be a line at all?

A portrait artwork is particularly personal and specialized, being more personal to certain viewers (the subjects and the client) than it is even to the artist who creates it. If this portrait happens to be photo-realistic or expressionistic or abstract or somewhere in between, yet elicits emotional response from its viewer, is it successful in achieving some of its purposes?

Is it less than Art because pigment was not applied by hand, or because it has actual photographic characteristics, which might be termed a true likeness? If pigment IS applied by hand on top of the digital canvas, does that make it Art?

Or could one say that the life and expression of the originating photograph has been amplified and augmented, that distracting areas of the originating photo have been subdued or removed or transformed into complimentary elements? Has the essence of the subject has been portrayed?


Have areas of darks and lights and color been used to a purpose– ie. is there an effective composition– serving to attract, direct and focus the attention of the viewer? Is the creation more expressive than the originating photograph, or equally expressive in a different sort of way? Is it more interesting in some ways or more pleasing to view than a photograph? Does it speak more to the viewer?

Are the above results, when attained, so different from copying from life, or hand-painting from a photo, or using aids to hand-painting such as drawing out a grid (which artists have done over the ages), or using a projector to assist sketching and achieving likenesses?

Are these end results reached by use of a skilled hand guided by an artistic eye? Does it really matter what kinds of tools are used?

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Art vs. photography vs. computer art Blog Post

See related topics at right, including Virtual painting
Connie Moses, petArtist– self-built website:
(horse and pet portraits)

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