What makes good art?

A still life - Photo: alexcoolok Admiring two Rothkos at the Tate Modern - Photo: Jane Mingay

I put a question to get our EVE readers thinking about what it is that makes a work of art good or bad. This week I asked a few people who work closely with the arts for their opinions. Here is what they said:

Sandro Debono – Curator, National Museum of Fine Arts

Good art is not about price or big names. It is not about detail or being true to nature, but about emotions. Good art should make you ‘tick’ or look twice, making you want to read it from the heart, not from the mind. You need to train your eye, but you have to look with your heart. The rest follows.

Angela Tabone – Art gallerist, Opus 64 Galerie:

I do not call myself a professional in this field although I do have a great passion for art and go a step further to understand the meaning behind what the artist was feeling at the time that they created the work.

Christine X – Art gallerist:

Good art captivates the viewer. The more knowledgeable one is about the art around them, the greater their appreciation for better art. We have different tastes, so when one would go for more detailed works, another may opt for more passionate, expressionistic works. Most importantly, you can appreciate art by looking at various artworks.

Charlene Vella – Assistant lecturer History of Art Department, University of Malta, art critic to The Sunday Times of Malta:

It’s not just a matter of taste, though this really helps, but also knowledge. Knowledge is Power. The more knowledgeable you are about the history of any nation of civilisation, the more you can understand and appreciate the art that evolved from it. Without this, it is tragic to make generic comments about art. You don’t have to like the artwork, but at least, an appreciation of it can be achieved.

Kenneth Zammit Tabona – Artistic director Valletta Baroque Festival, deputy chairman Teatru Manoel, president of the Friends of the National Museum of Fine Arts:

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Therefore, what constitutes good or bad art or anything vaguely in between is a matter of education, cultural background, and innate good taste. No bad art will survive the test of time… [A good] painting or sculpture sings; the balance, the colours must be harmonious. Above all a great work of art reaches out to the beholder … and becomes a ‘joy forever’.