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What is Art?  What is Fine Art?  What and why is there a difference?  I have a degree in Fine Art and an Inter-disciplinary minor in Art History and Religion, which is convenient, since the subject matter of what is Art, and what is Fine art are tied up some in all these subjects.

choosewellyourfight

This piece is a representation of a work of art by myself, Ellen M. Latta, completed in 2017.  It is rendered in oil paint on masonite. The title of the piece is “Choose Well Your Fight”. This particular painting has an original poem painted on the back of the panel also created by me. It would be an interesting detail in any Certificate of Authenticity as in no other place would this poem be rendered in oil paint written in cursive by the hand of the artist.  It is better than a signature, which is easy to forge. The hand-painted poem is not so easy to forge.

The word “art” simply means to make something, thus anything that is made might be called art. Craftsmanship means it’s made to a standard that is recognizably excellent, and possibly repeatable in the same manner. Knitters and crotchetiers are examples of both artists and crafters. Custom furniture makers are another example of artists and crafters. Industrial designers are artists, and the processes that produce the designs are craftsmanship. I salute all the artists and crafters of designs for their excellent contributions to our high standard of living.

Back when Michelangelo was a lad, the landed gentry were not supposed to get their hands dirty. Doing craft work, painting, masonry, carpentry, wagon making, wheel making, blacksmithing, all of these were considered menial labor not to be performed by those who were in charge. That was considered peasants work.  It might be skilled work, but it was still a lowly occupation. The landed gentry learned swords and maces and all sorts of deadly fighting skills, and control tactics.  One of the control tactics then as now, was information and the manipulation and suppression of the same.

As a young lad Michelangelo had watched a stone mason working sculpture and developed a passion for it. His father did not approve, but Michelangelo was not so easily dissuaded.  In order to make the work of his son not be looked down on, Michelangelo’s Father came up with a brilliant plan to separate the craftsman’s work out and created an entirely new field of work approved by the landed gentry for their offspring.

Since information and the manipulation of ideas was part of the landed gentries stock in trade, “Fine Art” was set apart from craft work by the introduction of symbology that conveyed a separate message contained within the work. Sometimes the symbology was hidden, and sometimes it was blatant, but always it was present in the work. Modern Art still contains these requirements to meet the threshold of Fine Art, thus the publicized write up by a recognized art critic is essential.

There are whole books dedicated to the language of symbology.  Certain things present in the work are meant to convey specific meanings. Fruit, flowers, geometry, numbers, or quantities of items all have specific meanings. Animals can represent ideas and concepts as well. Colors always have affects, but also may convey other things depending on the context of the piece. A line may be just a line, or it may point to something.  A shape may be meant to convey a form or a specific idea. The roughness or smoothness of a piece may also convey more than one type of meaning, or such treatment may be meant to provide a more subtle provision.

Fine art lies at the intersection of politics, high-finance, communications, psychology, and craftsmanship; the latter consideration being of less importance than the former. An officially recognized work of Fine Art becomes a vehicle for the protection of or the transfer of wealth. The major fine art auction houses are the international facilitators and officially sanctioned record keepers of these financial exchanges. Museums, and art galleries are secondary vehicles of these transactions.

Art is one of the things that is not taxed in the same way that most property is taxed. It can be used to protect an amount of money. One person may convey an amount of money to another person through the means of a Fine Art purchase as well.  The item purchased should have an authentic seal of approval of it’s possible future value through the use of officially sanctioned Fine Art critics who publicly proclaim an artist’s work to be worthy of the title of collectible.

If a person is conveying an amount of money between parties through the use of Fine Art, it is generally preferred that the art is difficult to make forgeries of.  Documentation is required.  A gestural work, in art’s language, is a rapid stroke that roughly draws a subject.  Gestural Art has found a particularly important niche in the fine art world, as it’s nearly impossible to make a good forgery of a truly large gestural work.

This latter form of abstract art has landed some confused criticism from many who proclaim that their five-year old could make better art than that seen in some museums.  Indeed, it may be true that the five-year old might make a better representation of something; however, the five-year old is not officially sanctioned by authorized critics within the art world to make symbolic art for sale to collectors; thus the sloppily drawn noodles of line that depict whatever fancy has struck the sanctioned artist become a cashable check for those looking to protect their assets with something non-taxable.

When the average person attacks the value of a work of proclaimed fine art, based on the lack of representative craftsmanship, they misunderstand the purpose of the piece. It likely is a representation of money and power and sometimes even position. To treat it as anything else is to threaten the financial stability of many of the world’s top fortune collectors. This was more probably the reason for the Bonfire of the Vanities than the purported religious excuse that was used in the destruction of much of Europe’s Fine Art collections in the middle ages.

One need not actually destroy the works themselves to destroy the financial footing of those who own the work. One needs only destroy the officially sanctioned recognized value of the pieces to drastically reduce the net worth of the individuals who own them. Hitler’s Degenerate Art exhibition, staged by Adolf Ziegler in 1937, was an instance where the acclaimed value of some types of art, or works by individuals who were not approved of by Hitler’s regime, were devalued by proclamation of a Nation state. The devaluation of these artists work, instantly reduced the net worth of many art collectors within Germany and their occupied territories.The more certain method of this destruction though, is to destroy the works themselves, as there is no coming back from that.

Some people are purchasing Fine Art through the Auction houses and immediately shipping it into a vault underground.  This is a form of tax safe haven, and a hopeful insurance check against possible disaster. As with most investments, it’s not guaranteed to pay off, but there is historical precedent for the idea of getting value back at some time in the future.  One might want to store up the auction house catalog as well as the certificate of authenticity and the letter of provenance to the piece as an additional set of proofs of the value of the work.

The certificate of authenticity is a form that the Artist may provide stating that the work in hand is indeed their work and not that of a forger or rogue print maker. The letter of provenance is a detailed history of the trail of owners, verifying that it is legitimately owned and not a stolen work of art.  If a work has been stolen and found and returned to the owner, these details are included in the  history of the work.   With a true work of Fine Art, the certificate of authenticity and the letter of provenance are as important as the work itself to maintain and verify the value of the work.

This is a very general explanation of the realm of Fine Art. If you found this information helpful, write in the comments below. Let me know if there is more you would like to know about the subject of Fine Art, or any particle field  of Fine Art.  I will be happy to provide more detailed information.

 

Ellen M Story, Ellen M. Lattz at emariaenterprises, llc. January 2019.

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ellen M Story, Ellen M. Lattz at emariaenterprises, llc with appropriate, and specific direction to the original content.

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