What is Fine Art?

“The use of skill and imagination in the creation of aesthetic objects, environments, or experiences that can be shared with others….”

There are a number of things that come to mind at the thought of fine art, from sculptures and paintings to items defined as ‘expensive’.  The real question is, can we truly define what fine art is? With a number of photographers experimenting and exploring their own interpretations of fine art and its appearance, there are a number of different things which we can associate with such a genre. Only recently has photography been accepted into the art world, therefore it becomes questionable as to what makes a photograph ‘art’ and what doesn’t.

Aboriginal art was some of the earliest traces of art discovered – cave paintings. These would tell stories of lives, a sense of culture. However is this art, and if so, what makes it art? It is questionable as to whether it’s name was given at a later date when it was later defined as art.

Following this, Jimmy Pike became known world wide for his work with aboriginal art. He stuck with the very traditional ways however making them his own through contemporary practice.

Chris Ofili had a very traditional approach to art using paint and canvas. There was a huge uproar after the release of his painting “The Virgin Mary”. Chris was a devout Christian, therefore with no intentions of creating controversy and had intentions of keeping Americans happy – however this was not the case as the image was branded offensive and even banned from being shown in various places.

The work of Yinka Shonibare was very politically motivated with the intentions of questionning what has already happened. His work focused on suicide, with his shots capturing a fake death. Although he was a photographer, his images were often focused on paintings. His work has the ability to make the viewer question what is going on and what we see – by taking a alternate approach to traditional ways, it makes us question.

John Ewell Millais’ draws inspiration for his work through aspects of culture. His images often steer more towards story telling with a sense of narrative, working with beauty. Some of Millais’ work was influenced by Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, with one of his most famous paintings named Ophelia in 1851.

Tom Hunter was well known for recreating paintings through photography. He was the first photographers to have his work shown at the National Gallery showing the importance of his work with respects to fine art. Interestingly, one of his photographs was similar to the painting by John Ewell Millais however his image was inspired by news reports of a girl drowning in the local canal.

“Art for art’s sake” – Marcel Duchamp, who’s work pushed the boundaries with the intentions of deliberately causing controversy. For example, he took a picture of a urinal then entered it into an exhibition causing a massive uproar and debate about art, bring us back to the question what is fine art? Essentially, he was seen to be taking the mick out of the art world.

Tracey Emin took a new and interesting approach by submitting a piece of ‘art’ called My Bed. It consisted of her own bed which was left unmade and surrounded by daily items. The sheets were stained and very personal items like condoms and dirty underwear were left out. This exhibition reflected her dark time of depression through relationship problems. With this, she was shortlisted for the Turner Prize.

With a chance to reflect on the work of these artists and their approaches, we were set the task of defining what we think fine art is.

Fine Art is….


~ by victoriasimkissphotography on October 19, 2012.

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