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More Opinions on What Makes a Painting Good or Bad

Is it possible to judge a painting as good or bad -- the discussion continues

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“Do you think artists tend to think photorealistic paintings are lifeless because with abstract many of us cannot tell for sure? As for symbolism, who makes the symbols work? The artist or the viewer? If it's the artist, it's possible the viewer will take the symbols differently. If it's the viewer, then the artist's effort is in vain. Is a work only meaningful/conceptual/symbolic when the artist consciously designed it? Haven’t we all had our paintings interpreted by others in a way we never meant for?” -- Israel

“I have been through art school and was taught how to apply the perfect technical skills, but to me it's like following a recipe. It's not from the gut. Art, to me, is about expression, and everyone has their own technique and style.” -- Sheri

“Many of what we know of as masterpieces owe their beauty or interest to something other than the artwork itself. For instance would you call a Van Gogh interesting or is it the man's torrid life that stirs the imagination?” -- Anwar

“You call a painting by its creator's name -- a Van Gogh, a Picasso, a Pollock, a Moses -- because you subscribe to the adage that the artist and the work are one. That's what makes it moving... when you feel the artist through the work, like he just finished painting it yesterday and the artist is behind you looking over your shoulder as you ponder on.” -- Ado

“Art is most definitely subjective. Connecting with the piece most often than not is a deeply personal matter. … But, personal reactions do not make anything good, or anything bad. Throughout history there have been plenty of pieces of art that have shocked, appalled, and created quite a negative reaction, yet they are great works of art. And there are pieces of art, that are quite popular but are not great works of art. I think most of us know instinctively, intuitively what is good. Again, it doesn't have to appeal to our personal tastes for us to know it is good.” -- Nancy

“I've always thought that, in addition to all the structure, the technique, the effort and knowledge that goes into a painting, there's something intangible that makes it special, if only to us. Paintings are like poetry in that they evoke certain feelings, certain emotions that function within our psyches on a more primitive level. They have something to them, something you can't define, something just outside of the light of our campfire (to paraphrase Gary Snyder). To be sure, paintings need structure and all the other elements, but they also need that primal ‘Oomph!’ to reach out to us, be they by Da Vinci, Pollock, Picasso, or Bob Ross.” -- Mreierst

“It's the quality, the immediate reaction you have upon seeing, hearing, touching the work. An emotional, visceral response. This takes place before your intellect recognizes the content of the work and starts to work out meanings and messages. You just know.” -- Farfetche1

"I believe a painting has to include some of the elements and principles of the language of art in order to be art. I think artists need the structure they give to be able to successfully communicate an idea. And, also to communicate the ‘beauty’ and harmony of the work. I've used the example of music. There are a few notes that become embellished and they are arranged within some sort of structure. If there is no structure, the result is noise. The same applies to painting, in my humble opinion. Without some structure, it's just paint slapped on the canvas. Look at a Pollock. There's structure in them although they may look chaotic to some.” -- Rghirardi

“I think a lot of the wonder of realism has been lost because we don't have the same use of symbolism as earlier centuries. We see objects simply for themselves, not as adding another level of meaning. If you think of that Pre-Raphaelite painting by Millais of Ophelia, the flowers around her aren't simply decorative, there are all sorts of additional meanings conveyed through them. I think a ‘good’ piece of art is that makes you want to keep looking and that stirs your emotions. I can think of several portraits in London's Portrait Gallery that I used to go ‘visit’ regularly during lunchtime when I worked in London; I knew them well but simply never got tired of looking at them.” -- Painting Guide

What do you think makes a painting good or bad? Add your opinion below.

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