There is an age-old argument that many artists, art magazines, discussion groups and other art-savvy people repeatedly engage in about the subject of fine art vs. fine craft. The main points tend to center around the comparison of the two in the world of acceptable, exhibit-able, collectable art. It seems like some fine artists, especially painters, have a certain definition or attitude about formal training, skill levels, and experience. Artisans/crafters have an attitude about quality, perhaps functionality and technical expertise. Maybe there is different vocabulary for each, but I tend to disagree that one is that different than the other. They meld, cross over and are intertwined. I think you might get different responses from artists than from viewers, from makers than from appreciators…… I can only really react from the artist’s point of view.
When it comes right down to defining or even doing art, every artist has an emotional, subjective prospective. I am no exception….. I am prejudiced…… I am convinced that the worth of someone’s art or craft is in how the artist takes his or her work seriously. I believe that years of practice make for better art, whatever kind it is…… Better art is about creative thinking, depth, spirit, and skill, discipline, patience.
Fine artists are crafters and fine crafters are artists. Fine art has history and fine craft has longevity. They coexist in our lives and live in our homes and both are collected. Both have perceived worth. Fine art commands better prices and fine craft is not as available in galleries. Fine art is valued by “white” collar people and fine craft is valued by “blue” collar folk. I am generalizing….. I am one-sided in my point of view, granted. I spend time “dancing” between the lines of fine art and fine craft….. My particular kind of work blurs definitions…..
There is the functional vs. non-functional issue. Opinions differ as to the artistic worth of a craft item. It can be argued that pure, unduplicate-able art is worth more. Function has perceived worth. It can be argued that functional craft touches our daily lives, is more accessible and has more value. There can be such fuzzy areas in each that remind us of the other. Fine craft can be functional and non-functional. Fine art has a hard time being functional.
There is the one-of-kind vs. production issue. The techniques and technicals of any art form, or any art medium, require training and practice. Producing a one-of-a-kind piece of art is, in my opinion, as artistically worthy as repeated, production art. Workmanship, quality of work, the artist’s hand is greatly valued in any art. The time commitment, creative design, skill level, sellable product is appreciated.
There is the gender issue. In truth, historically, there are more men, in fine art. Fine craft, historically, connotes women. From a woman artist’s point of view, more men jury exhibits and shows of all kinds than women. Business isn’t the only place where men are taken more seriously than women, even in this era…..
There is the 2-dimensional vs. the 3-dimensional issue. More fine art is 2-dimensional, wall-hung work. The majority of craft work is 3-dimensional. I am prejudiced here. I cannot even visualize working in 2-d. It seems limited and non-textural. Color can pop off a canvas, but sculpture can come alive. Paint can be magical to blend and apply to a surface. Sculptural elements can be manipulated to form life-like art. I am a fiber artist, after all. So, I again am prejudiced. Just the process of creating something that has levels and thickness and dimensionality is exciting to me.
Beauty and grace in both fine art and fine craft are what I appreciate. Even when art or craft is not so “fine” or not so pretty, and is edgy or raw, it evokes an emotion, a reaction. I want to be coaxed by both to notice and react and pay attention. There is room in my life to hold dear both fine art and fine craft……. How wonderful it is as an artist to even have this conversation in my head.