Good Art or Bad Art? “The quality of art is as objective as physics”

I was reading an article called “Women in art: why are all the ‘great’ artists men?” The item itself is worth reading but what caught my attention was an exchange in the Comments bit at the end:

“Man3628732551 24 May 2013 1:22pm

There are no “male” or “female”- arts, and never have been/ never will be. You are making empty, ideological points simply.

There is good art and there is bad art. No more – no less.


tintreas 24 May 2013 3:32pm

@Man3628732551 – Except that ‘good’ and ‘bad’ in art are entirely subjective.


Man3628732551 24 May 2013 3:42pm

@tintreas –

– Nope. Or: only for laymen. Bad artists are practically laymen. Many critics are laymen. The quality of art is as objective as physics. Popularity, success, profits – not necessarily correlate with the quality. This is why some artists are discovered or accepted a long time after their miserable lives.


BabyH 25 May 2013 8:35am

@Man3628732551 –

The quality of art is as objective as physics

That’s clearly not true. Is there a provable set of rules that can tell me what is good art and what bad? Most people would agree on most ‘great’ artists but that doesn’t make their views objective – they just share the same subjective view.

Some artists are ‘discovered’ a long time after they die because the subjective likes and dislikes of the society that produced them have changed.


Man3628732551 25 May 2013 10:55am

@BabyH –

Thanks. Very shortly, many ways to deal with the argument, one of.

Physics: objective universe, experiments, interpretations. Arts: existing artworks, exhibitions- critical approach, interpretations.

Attention: as in physics- experiment, quality judgement in arts must minimise/ eliminate background noise, biasing aspects. For arts that would be e.g. the artist as a person, fame, success, money, acclaim, politics etc.- The artwork is the essence, context is secondary.

Organise the experiment, e.g. neutral place, 10 artworks of the same category- say a simple: “portrait, canvas”. Define the criteria e.g. “power of idea”, “overall inventiveness”, “control of technique”, “emotional expression”, “richness in meaning”, “quality of composition”. Spent time with works and deliver judgement: which are stronger- which weaker. For every 10 qualified critics- 7- 10 should come with the same results. If not- some of the critics are not qualified enough.

Certainly, as for advanced physics- for advanced arts skills are necessary. They may consist of diverse combinations of rational and intuitive ones, but they are real. “Taste” may appear of course, but not in relation to overall quality of a particular artwork- out of works of similar quality we may chose the ones we: “like”, “understand”, “prefer”- more than the others, which we respect anyway.

Regarding quality, in the longer term, beyond the contextual noise- there is little “subjective”.


AlParkes  25 May 2013 4:30pm

@Man3628732551 – Congrats. One of the most elitist, pretentious things I ever read. Total bollocks.”


As a former Physics and Science teacher, who had taught ‘scientific method’ of ‘observation, hypothesis, experiment, observation, evaluation’ for many years, I was seriously worried about most of Man3628732551’s points. Was I missing something, even allowing for his/her poor literacy style? It was reassuring therefore to read AlParkes’ final comment!


About notes to the milkman

I'm a printmaker based in the North West of England, living in Bolton and printing at Hot Bed Press in Salford. Please visit my website
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11 Responses to Good Art or Bad Art? “The quality of art is as objective as physics”

  1. Good art, bad art – an eternal, unsolvable question! Judgements can occasionally be made dependant on what the artist is trying to achieve, but beyond that … even something that is badly drawn, badly painted can have an indefinable quality, just as a piece that is technically brilliant can be soulless. But I do agree that it is beyond gender.

  2. Nancy Farmer says:

    Haha, funny 🙂 I do have some sympathy for both sides of that one, but what I particularly like is that everyone takes it for granted that physics is objective. ‘the quality of Art is as objective as Physics’ is a statement about which some quantum physicists would probably agree, but for exactly opposite reasons!

  3. Haha! An entertaining read. The farthest I will ever go is to say that art, like physics, is a way of seeing the world…not too sure about “Man3628732551’s” points!

  4. seascapesaus says:

    Physics, mathematics – pretty abstract in their purest forms. Is there good and bad Physics? or male and female Physics? interesting exchanges with a late-night feel.

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