Would altering a work of art to suit public taste improve it or make it worse?

What is art? What is beauty?

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Does altering a work of art:

Improve it?
0
No votes
Worsen it?
3
75%
Can't decide
1
25%
 
Total votes: 4

Philosophy Explorer
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Re: Would altering a work of art to suit public taste improve it or make it worse?

Post by Philosophy Explorer » Tue Feb 14, 2017 4:19 am

Conde Lucanor wrote:
Philosophy Explorer wrote:
Conde Lucanor wrote:There's no fixed answer to this question. We don't know if the original work was good or bad to start with, so any alterations could either improve it or make it worse.
I thought the term "work of art" would have given you a hint.

PhilX
No, because under some definitions of "work of art", something satisfies the conditions of being art by being socially recognized as such. And it's socially recognized only for being presented as a work of art, for showing the intention, regardless of whether its properties qualify as good or bad. You hang something on the walls of an art gallery and it becomes instantly a work of art. Like an urinal.
Here's my online definition for a work of art which I go by:

"work of art
noun
noun: work of art; plural noun: works of art
a painting, sculpture, poem, piece of music, or other product of the creative arts, especially one with strong imaginative or aesthetic appeal.
something that is very attractively presented or intricately detailed."

Doesn't sound like a urinal to me.

PhilX

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Greta
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Re: Would altering a work of art to suit public taste improve it or make it worse?

Post by Greta » Tue Feb 14, 2017 4:21 am

In music, this is normal. In jazz, it's essential. In fact one sign of a great song is that it can be enjoyable played in a range of styles.

Considerations or provisos:

- creators should be publicly acknowledged and paid due monies

- the cover version ideally would be prevented from bringing the original into disrepute, eg. adding hateful lyrics to an instrumental.

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Re: Would altering a work of art to suit public taste improve it or make it worse?

Post by Skip » Tue Feb 14, 2017 4:38 am

There are no 'alternative arrangements' of Cellini's Perseus.
Music is a necessarily collaborative art, as is drama: conceived by one artist, but incomplete until preformed by other artists. The closer the spirit of the conductor or director and performing artists are to the composer or playwright, the more satisfying the performance. The objective is not to change or improve the original work, but to do it justice.

(Changing a stern, bearded medieval prophet to a puffy, characterless hermaphrodite is not an improvement, whatever the tourists think.)

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Greta
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Re: Would altering a work of art to suit public taste improve it or make it worse?

Post by Greta » Tue Feb 14, 2017 5:26 am

Skip wrote:(Changing a stern, bearded medieval prophet to a puffy, characterless hermaphrodite is not an improvement, whatever the tourists think.)
I see no problem with people satisfying simple tastes with simple art. How different is the altered painting and its popularity in principle to Sesame Street featuring the The Muncha Lisa by Leonardo da Crunchy? Neither audience is likely to appreciate Monet, Monk or 'Trane.

BTW, is music so different? I can't hear La Donna Mobile any more without thinking of the old roll-a-door ad.

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Re: Would altering a work of art to suit public taste improve it or make it worse?

Post by Skip » Tue Feb 14, 2017 6:25 am

Greta wrote:
Skip wrote:(Changing a stern, bearded medieval prophet to a puffy, characterless hermaphrodite is not an improvement, whatever the tourists think.)
I see no problem with people satisfying simple tastes with simple art. How different is the altered painting and its popularity in principle to Sesame Street featuring the The Muncha Lisa by Leonardo da Crunchy? Neither audience is likely to appreciate Monet, Monk or 'Trane.
None of that mitigates or justifies vandalism or plagiarism.
Simple tastes have plenty of original art made especially for them. Why do they need to destroy the art that was made for somebody else?
BTW, is music so different? I can't hear La Donna Mobile any more without thinking of the old roll-a-door ad.
Music can also be vandalized, plagiarized, bastardized, cheapened and debased.

Is any of that good?

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Re: Would altering a work of art to suit public taste improve it or make it worse?

Post by vegetariantaxidermy » Tue Feb 14, 2017 8:23 am

Greta wrote:
Skip wrote:(Changing a stern, bearded medieval prophet to a puffy, characterless hermaphrodite is not an improvement, whatever the tourists think.)
I see no problem with people satisfying simple tastes with simple art. How different is the altered painting and its popularity in principle to Sesame Street featuring the The Muncha Lisa by Leonardo da Crunchy? Neither audience is likely to appreciate Monet, Monk or 'Trane.

BTW, is music so different? I can't hear La Donna Mobile any more without thinking of the old roll-a-door ad.
That's ridiculous. The original piece of music is always going to exist. If you mess with someone's painting it's ruined forever.

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Re: Would altering a work of art to suit public taste improve it or make it worse?

Post by uwot » Tue Feb 14, 2017 9:16 am

It's a bit like yer Ship of Theseus. The problem with paintings is that they are made of the same stuff as everything else. Like everything else, paintings age and decay and need maintenance. Eventually, all the original paint will turn to dust and the remaining artwork will be the product of generations of conservators and restorers attempts to preserve the 'spirit' of the original. In effect, something like the Mona Lisa is a fetish, the physical product is just the manifestation of an idea. Personally, I think it is the idea, the vision and technique of the artist, that is to be admired, rather rather a lump of poplar with a slap of paint on, behind bullet proof glass.
As for music, fuck me! Listen to Ike Turner's original of River Deep, Mountain High https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vo09_WdnjNs and compare it to Phil Spector's treatment. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9Lehkou2Do

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Re: Would altering a work of art to suit public taste improve it or make it worse?

Post by Pluto » Tue Feb 14, 2017 7:38 pm

The public and their taste are dumbed down and stunted by design. The system doesn't want enlightened, philosophically thinking beings. A project was done by two contemporary Russian artists who did a nation-wide survey asking people of Russia what would be in the best picture of all time, in the end it was a landscape with some animals in it. The People are disfigured by a system that wants them small - therefore their tastes are actually not their own, which is interesting.

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Re: Would altering a work of art to suit public taste improve it or make it worse?

Post by Greta » Wed Feb 15, 2017 12:25 am

Skip wrote:
Greta wrote:I see no problem with people satisfying simple tastes with simple art. How different is the altered painting and its popularity in principle to Sesame Street featuring the The Muncha Lisa by Leonardo da Crunchy? Neither audience is likely to appreciate Monet, Monk or 'Trane.
None of that mitigates or justifies vandalism or plagiarism.
Simple tastes have plenty of original art made especially for them. Why do they need to destroy the art that was made for somebody else?

My bad. I was thinking that Veggie's bizarre example was a copy, not vandalisation. That's equivalent to knocking down an elegant heritage building and building a Burger King in its stead.

I was more focused on the the thread 's OP eg. "When black and white films were being colorized, there was controversy over it" and in that my comments stand, as with all (overtly) non-destructive copying, which seems dictatorial of taste. I'd personally love for formularised, mechanised, economically rationalised, over-compressed, derivative headache-inducing modern pop music on the radio but some people like it. I don't understand how some women buy synthetic print tops with ghastly designs but I can't ban that either. Nor why someone would tattoo or pierce their entire face.

In short, I could be accused of lacking respect, not believing in the sacredness of certain things. I used to but observing nature and humanity over the decades tells me that the most sacred people, things, ideas - all will be replaced, or at least built upon to the point of unrecognisability.

I remember the hysteria amongst jazz purists when Kenny G recorded over the top of Louis Armstrong's "It's a Wonderful World". There was talk of drawing moustaches on the Mona Lisa and so forth. In truth, the track was a commercial bit of fluff that Louis was contracted to sing - a far cry from his groundbreaking jazz work. Really, they just wanted to have a dig at Kenny because he was giving people the wrong idea about what jazz is. It didn't matter. To untrained ears Kenny improved on the tune and, ultimately, it did not change the original. It did not even impact on web or YouTube search rankings.

Generally, as with all "consumables", if you don't like it, try to avoid it.
Skip wrote:
BTW, is music so different? I can't hear La Donna Mobile any more without thinking of the old roll-a-door ad.
Music can also be vandalized, plagiarized, bastardized, cheapened and debased.

Is any of that good?
If anything, it was an antidote to Dad's daily destruction of the piece in the shower :lol:

Not much anyone can do about that kind of vandalisation, bastardisation or cheapening without being dictatorial.

How about Stairway to Heaven. Great pop track, ruined by overexposure. These things happen. I generally would not bother about legislation or controls beyond copyright except where fake work is presented as original, eg. in Australia there are numerous "Aboriginal" paintings and objects that are made in Vietnam. Caveat emptor (plus there will soon be some legislation with prescribed penalties).

As regard ethics sans a legal solution,
vegetariantaxidermy wrote:
Greta wrote:
Skip wrote:(Changing a stern, bearded medieval prophet to a puffy, characterless hermaphrodite is not an improvement, whatever the tourists think.)
I see no problem with people satisfying simple tastes with simple art. How different is the altered painting and its popularity in principle to Sesame Street featuring the The Muncha Lisa by Leonardo da Crunchy? Neither audience is likely to appreciate Monet, Monk or 'Trane.

BTW, is music so different? I can't hear La Donna Mobile any more without thinking of the old roll-a-door ad.
That's ridiculous. The original piece of music is always going to exist. If you mess with someone's painting it's ruined forever.
My mistake. I'm not talking talking about variant copies and prints. Obviously you don't allow people to vandalise originals.


As regards "improving on the original", not many complained about Jimi Hendrix's cover of Dylan's All Along the Watchtower of Jeff Buckley's rendition of Hallelujah, Joe Cocker's version of A Little Help from my Friends, and so on. Interestingly today most plaudits (certainly the most money amongst small timers) goes to those who perfectly copy the original (tribute bands), there is ever more focus on the skills of reproducing that which came before than on creative innovation. It's a brief that makes machine reproduction of material more viable.

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Re: Would altering a work of art to suit public taste improve it or make it worse?

Post by Skip » Wed Feb 15, 2017 5:40 am

Greta wrote: I was more focused on the the thread 's OP eg. "When black and white films were being colorized, there was controversy over it" and in that my comments stand, as with all (overtly) non-destructive copying, which seems dictatorial of taste.
It's okay, I suppose, as long as the original is kept in its original form and the "improved" copy labelled as such. Of course, many B&W films were masterly examples of cinematography that is totally lost - along with the director's concept of atmosphere and character rendition - in the tinted version. The so-so ones might be more enjoyable in a realistic palette.
My biggest objection is to the reduction of an irreplaceable original to commercial schlock.
My second biggest objection is to appending an artist's name and reputation to said schlock.

Music, as I mentioned, is always a collaborative effort: every conductor, instrumentalist and vocalist has his or her own interpretation. Some will be more pleasing than others, according to individual taste. If it's not working, it can always be rearranged by yet another musician.
I'm not all that keen on whiny two-note performers reducing good lyrics and scores to their competence level.... but the original endures, so I can live with it.... well, sort of... though every now and then, I lose my rag in an elevator or supermarket, shake my fist at the overhead speakers and yell, "Dragging one note for 2 bars doesn't make up for the ones you leave out!".
Codgers smile; youngsters cringe; middle-agers look away and keep walking.

I care because I've made mediocre art in a couple of my lives, and, while aware that it's nothing special, I would most emphatically rather smash it than have someone improve it.

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Greta
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Re: Would altering a work of art to suit public taste improve it or make it worse?

Post by Greta » Wed Feb 15, 2017 10:20 am

Skip wrote:I care because I've made mediocre art in a couple of my lives, and, while aware that it's nothing special, I would most emphatically rather smash it than have someone improve it.
What if they turned it into something you found truly beautiful?

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Re: Would altering a work of art to suit public taste improve it or make it worse?

Post by Skip » Wed Feb 15, 2017 3:46 pm

It still wouldn't be mine anymore.
For one thing, "truly beautiful" is in the eye of the beholder. I may not share your aesthetic, or the improver's.
Secondly, suppose the intent of the original was not beauty but to elicit some negative emotion; or that it was conceived in a particular temporal and cultural context where it was emblematic; or it was part of a larger complex of works in which it had a specific meaning - altering art in such circumstances is the same as eliminating it.... except that destruction is not a personal insult to the creator.

If they can make something truly beautiful, they don't need anything inadequate of mine to start with: they should make something original, so that it's all their own, and sign it. I don't want my name on another person's work: if the work is better than my own, my signature on it would be seen as a fraud; if the work is worse than I can do, it would detract from my status as an artist. Either way, it could only hurt my reputation.

If I thought I could improve on another artist's work, I would refrain not only from acting on the impulse, but even of speaking the thought aloud.
Aside from the fact that I might be wrong, it's bad manners.

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Conde Lucanor
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Re: Would altering a work of art to suit public taste improve it or make it worse?

Post by Conde Lucanor » Wed Feb 15, 2017 8:13 pm

Philosophy Explorer wrote:
Conde Lucanor wrote:
Philosophy Explorer wrote:
I thought the term "work of art" would have given you a hint.

PhilX
No, because under some definitions of "work of art", something satisfies the conditions of being art by being socially recognized as such. And it's socially recognized only for being presented as a work of art, for showing the intention, regardless of whether its properties qualify as good or bad. You hang something on the walls of an art gallery and it becomes instantly a work of art. Like an urinal.
Here's my online definition for a work of art which I go by:

"work of art
noun
noun: work of art; plural noun: works of art
a painting, sculpture, poem, piece of music, or other product of the creative arts, especially one with strong imaginative or aesthetic appeal.
something that is very attractively presented or intricately detailed."

Doesn't sound like a urinal to me.

PhilX
I'm sure you know why the reference to a urinal. The fact is that in 2004 the so called "Fountain" urinal was voted in the UK as the most influential piece of modern art by a group of 500 art critics. My guess is that you wouldn't have voted in favor, but it shows that there's no universal consensus about all works of art being good.

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Re: Would altering a work of art to suit public taste improve it or make it worse?

Post by Vendetta » Sun Mar 12, 2017 8:57 pm

How is one to determine what modifications would most accurately suit the taste of the majority of the public?
Artists create art in their own view, and do not necessarily create art for the purpose of suiting the fancy of the masses. Especially when you consider how subjective one's view of any piece of art is, altering it would destroy the original meaning of the piece as those who decide the way in which it should be altered do not necessarily know the intent behind the creation of the piece by the artist. Art's existence is not solely to appeal to those who view it.


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