Art – It’s Not What You Think


“The thing made is a work of art made by art, but not itself art. The art remains in the artist and is the knowledge by which things are made.”

Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy

It’s an intriguing thought to view art as not the work itself but the means by which the work is created. Art becomes something much more complex and interesting – the various internal forces within you that enable you to produce the “work of art”. Even “work of art”  takes on a new meaning – the piece created is the work of the art within you.

This makes the answer to “what is art?” take on a much more personal meaning – instead of looking outward and saying this piece is art and that piece is not, we instead turn inward and look for the measure of the art there. Art becomes much more than technique, composition or style – it is the unique combination of experience, intention, insight and creativity that only you have. Art becomes inseparably intertwined with the life force within you.

“The art remains in the artist” – I can think of no better companion.

9 responses to “Art – It’s Not What You Think

  1. I think we should all quote Bob Cornelis in our blogs and painter’s lives, Susan! Sometimes I even think to put some post about a “serious” question related to art, but then I think that HE will surely ask the same at some point, and better than me!
    I have for example right now, due to a short conversation with a gallerist and then with Kevin, an interesting question… I wonder when Bob will submit it to his/our judgement? I might this time do it myself as I am really interested in the answers and who knows when Bob will have this question ! 🙂

    No doubt, for me art is the work itself, the process which leads to the piece of art. This is why art is for me so fascinating, so many personal parameters are involved in this process.

  2. I love this whole concept; art as verb instead of noun. If we look at art this way, it cannot help but remain alive and vital. I keep thinking of Miki’s comment on your November 10 post, about not wanting to look at her own art. Maybe it’s because, for her, once it’s out there, on canvas or paper, it’s no longer animated by the impulse that drove her to create it.

    But we who did NOT create it Love to see her work — because the fact is that a good work of art will continue to move — even influence — those who look at it. It’s not like a flower — once plucked, it doesn’t inspire for a day or two and then just die. So doesn’t that mean the art is still there, enlivening the work somehow, interacting with the viewer at some deeper level? Perhaps the artist becomes a channel through which some creative impulse flows, and the result serves as an inspiring icon, awakening awareness of that impulse in those who view it? I think the tree in your November 4 post is a perfect example of that. Or that video Miki and Kev did together. When we see the work of art, we, the viewers, sense the Workings of Art.

  3. I arrive here and think that I’m prepared to make an intelligent comment, but it always comes down to this: I love Bob’s work, I love his statements, I love the dialogue. I leave more informed, more inspired, more ready to work.

  4. Miki

    I agree, the more you become aware of the personal parameters involved in making the art, the more fascinating and rich the process. The product can seem almost incidental. But as Diane says, that product has at least a further life with others who see it.


    I really like your phrase, “art as verb instead of noun” – as you say, the active quality of a verb serves to keep the art alive. I’ve thought about the “life” a work of art has, both with the artist and viewers – there is a pulse that keeps beating in the work of art after it has been infused with the creativity of the artist.

    C. Robin

    Thanks for the kind words – I, too, so appreciate the dialogue of those who choose to post comments. Their contributions are what it’s all about!

  5. Oops, getting a little bit red in my face right now reading Diane’s comment about Kevin and me! Thanks you so much Diane, I certainly was not expecting it, what a lovely surprise!
    And I agree with Bob: “art as verb”, a fantastic way of saying IT.
    And yes, you are exactly right. I can’t look at my paintings once they are dome because I can’t feel any more the life impulse which made me do them. I normally am very careful not to tell in public that I see my painting “dead’ ( it is surely not the best advertising for them!!!), but well, Bob;s post are sooooooooooooooooo honest, I cannot help telling here my ultimate truths…

    And what a great comment from C. Robin!

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