Must Art be Seen?

I asked this question last year on Twitter and I got an excellent response, but I can’t remember what everyone said.

This time, I want the discussion on here so I (or you) can come back to it at any time.

The question is simple, but the answer can be complicated.

Does art need to be seen by more than just its creator?

Or more precisely,

If a creator never shares their work, are they creating art?


10 thoughts on “Must Art be Seen?

  1. Jason Love says:

    Personally, I feel art needs to be seen by others to be considered art. To me art is about communication and expressing to others.

  2. dgriff13 says:

    instictively, I say yes.. because some artists create work for themselves and never
    share it and that’s OK. still art. But if you define “art” as something
    created that then is then shared, then… well, we have a
    different definition LOL

  3. Jason Love says:

    This question came from a Tweet I posted a year ago. It was something like, “Art isn’t art unless people see it”.
    As you can imagine, many people disagreed.

    I have been a little obsessive about it since.
    As you said, we all have different definitions. Originally I believed art needed both creator/s and viewer/s. However, I find myself accepting personal art as part of the term “Art” the more I discuss this with people.

  4. It is Art. I have many pieces I’ve never shared, and they’re just as valid as the ones I do share. Sometimes art is something for the artist only, to console or remind them of something special. This is like the question “If a tree falls and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” Of course it did, the other trees heard it. We must think beyond our physical boundaries sometimes. 🙂

  5. Tony Maden says:

    Both ways Jason. The process of creation is from inside our minds and hearts. If the thoughts and ideas come out of you, in any form of expression, that to me is the act of creation. So to me if what you create you enjoy yourself, then it has an audience of one and gain joy from it, then thats okay, and if you choose to share it, thats okay too.

  6. Claire Ackley says:

    As an artist with a strong background in the arts, here is my belief on the topic: If the creator believes it to be art, it’s art to them. If the viewer believes it to be art, it’s art to them. If someone says it’s not art, it’s not art to them.

  7. capesnbabes says:

    Here’s another way of thinking about this statement:
    If two people are married but you never see them having sex, is it still “love”? 😀

  8. Robin Childs says:

    As with many debates, it comes down to semantics. Depending on how you define “art” and its purpose will change whether or not being seen by others is a necessary part of what makes something art.

    That said, the question does remind me of a story I heard.

    A classroom, at the behest of their teacher, had written to a famous poet. The poet replied, with thanks for the letters, and a challenge for the class. “Write a poem,” he said. “Right now. About anything. Do not show it to anyone. It is for you, and you alone. Have you written it? Good. Now rip it up, into tiny pieces. Nobody will ever see that poem, and only you will ever remember what it was like, but know this: You are a better person now for having written it. Even if it is never, ever read. That is the true magic of art.”

  9. Adam Hinkle says:

    If you have a thought, even a brilliant thought, and keep it to yourself (“solve world hunger, tell no-one”), the thought is not expressed. You may gain insight or wisdom but it never makes a difference outside of you. I believe that art at its core is expressive. Any art then that isn’t shared I may call practice or honing skills but may not be art.
    It seems to me that there is a part of art that is vulnerable, courageous; neither of which can happen if it is kept to one’s self.
    Just my two cents.

  10. Jason Love says:

    I go back and forth, but normally stay on the side of art must be seen. I see art as a form of communication. Talking to oneself is still talking but not communication… Same with art.

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