Art for the masses

Ever since I wondered aloud yesterday whether mass-produced art is really art, I’ve been batting the question around in my brain like a ping pong ball. No, it isn’t. Yes, it is. No, it can’t be. Yes, it can.

Factory workers in the Chinese village of Dafen produce 5 million classic oil paintings every year. A skilled worker can churn out 30 paintings a day. Clearly that’s not art.

But if I’m going to argue that an artwork has to be one of a kind, I must also be prepared to insist that a writer can only write one copy of a book. If people want to read it, they’ll have to queue up at the (one and only) library and wait their turn.

What is art, anyway?

According to Seth Godin, “art is a personal gift that changes the recipient. The medium doesn’t matter. The intent does. 

Art is a personal act of courage, something one human does that creates change in another.”

Clearly Kelly Rae Roberts creates real art, and I apologize for insinuating anything else.

And by this definition, a labourer who sweats in a factory in Dafen may also be an artist who is acting with great courage to show up every day and work under horrible conditions to produce an art object that enhances another person’s life.

It’s about intent.


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