Furniture as Art
Is Furniture art? Some furniture is. It depends on how original is the design, and what statement is made, if any. There are many levels and forms that art takes. A splash of color on a canvas or a intricately designed display might babble or develop reams of interesting ideas. An artist often tests ideas and works them trial on trial until they complete some thought or concept. That is the real test of our modern concept of art. Furniture is more often the result of craft. The reproduction of long held design tradition may be beautiful but, it is more often craft than it is art.
Craft is the reproduction of an element for that production sake alone without the energy and emotion of the artist. Of course, there is expert and amateur production value. Artists are often paid for their craft and it is often in the eye of the beholder whether or not the piece is art. That can become a lively debate between artist and patron. There is the question of does the work “speak.”
Before the age of photography, art had more to do with expressing the emotion of the artist. Was the work just a mechanical rendering of the same element that had come before or did the artist express a unique and personal “feeling” in his or her style? Did the work “speak” in the language of the author? Does the work say what he or she is trying to get across? Was the work of unique character and personality? It is easy to see the spark of lively personality in a statue of Michelangelo or a Rembrandt but, they were also paid for their craft.
Does the work animate and leap across the crevasse of life or fall flat into the zombie pit? Each work is different and the same artist can be expected to have a range of work that “lives” or that falters.
More successful works tend to use a vocabulary developed by the artist over time. It takes much time and development to build a vocabulary of elements. Most often you can see that development in previous work. Thoughts mature over time. Connections are built up of familiar elements and details if they are to have deep and real meaning to the audience. An artist will write about his work translating his “language” for his audience. Of course, the invention of a language can be an afterthought, legitimate or not.