But is it art? Two cartoon takes

In today’s cartoon feed, two contributions to the Is It Art? theme on this blog: from Rhymes With Orange (with a Caveman twist on the theme); and from Zippy the Pinhead (on responses to a public sculpture):

Rhymes: caveman critics.


Everyone’s a critic! Even in the Stone Age.

Meanwhile, we get three characteristic bits of (English-based) Caveman Talk, a pidgin-like version of English widespread in fictional representations of “primitive” people of all sorts, not just cavemen but also all manner of aboriginals. See my 9/10/19 posting “Him wear saurian monitor”, with a section on Caveman Talk.

Zippy the art critic. Confronting a two-faced piece of public statuary:


Now, a little puzzle. In my experience, Bill Griffith never shows a work of art unless it’s a real piece; if Zippy says this is a big piece of public art, then it is, from somewhere in the world.

Unfortunately, a very long search on images turned up nothing like this:


— and Google Images recognized this only as a comic, so turned up no art images at all. (There are, of course, a huge number of two-faced art works, from many different times and cultures, signifying many different things, but I found nothing close to #3. Maybe some search-adept reader can do better.)

But is it Art? A perennial topic on this blog, since the label of Art is so often used invidiously. The label is associated with a (relatively) modern ethic of Art for its own sake, not just some function — which highlights the artist’s intentions, and also the artists’ location within a loosely organized art world, embracing galleries, dealers, museums, and art criticism, plus elaborate social networks of artists. The makeup of this world changes over time, so that particular makers of artistic materials who were formerly excluded from the art world or at best questionably resident there can become part of the next wave of Artists.

Now, an inventory of some postings of mine on Is It Art? It doesn’t cover everything that’s relevant, so if you want to pursue things further, you might check out:

performance art, outsider art, Dada, surrealism, Magritte, Duchamp, Warhol

on 12/5/10 in “But is it art?”: Ryan North‘s webcomic Dinosaur Comics (is it even a comic?)

on 2/20/11 in “Conceptual art”: conceptual artist Luis Camnitzer

on 11/16/11 in “X is the real Y”, on the web comic A Softer World, “which lies somewhere in that gray zone between cartooning and Art”

on 11/24/12 in “Barbara Kruger”, on conceptual art: Kruger, Glenn Ligon, Jenny Holzer, Ed Ruscha, Luis Camnitzer

on 1/11/13 in “Realism plus”: Zippy: “Is comic art really art?”

on 6/6/14 in “Ralph Steadman”: cartoonist, illustrator, graphic designer, and caricaturist Steadman, almost never referred to simply as an artist

on 6/28/14 in “What’s art and what’s not on the High Line”

on 6/28/14 in “But is it art? More Jeff Koons” (at the Whitney)

on 6/28/14 in “But is it art? At MoMA”

on 6/29/14 in “But is it art? Abstraction”, on Morris Louis

on 7/17/14  in “Things we doubt Louis XIV envisioned”, on Jeff Koons’s Puppy

on 7/21/14 in “Peter Mendelsund”: book jacket artst Mendelsund

on 6/8/15 in “Guys in heat”, on the gay porn flick Guys in Heat:

But is it art? Well, it has a structure in both space and time that adheres to conventions (some genre-specific) that viewers can recognize and appreciate. And, like porn in general, it’s an entertainment, intended for pleasure, in this case the pleasure of sexual release.

… I don’t see any great art in gay porn — the economics of the business pretty much precludes that from happening — but I do see significant pockets of well-made entertainment

on 12/7/16 in “More doodleages”: XXX-rated doodle collage: “But is it art?, Superman wondered, as the penguins surfed”

on 9/22/17 in “Three rocks”: Zippy: “Is comic art really art?”

on 3/25/18 in “Art objects and utilitarian objects”

on 5/6/18 in “Said the rapper to the geek”:  M.C. Escher

on 7/20/18 in “Jurassic Jeff”: gigantic Jeff Goldblum statue in London

on 7/28/18 in “Hockney paints Daley”: “Tom Daley Poses Nude for Painter David Hockney”

on 11/30/18 in “Green flowers”: flower aranging

on 5/20/20 in “Balloon quotes”: Michael James Schneider

2 Responses to “But is it art? Two cartoon takes”

  1. A free cartoonist in Paris | Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] the big question, see my 7/21/20 posting “But is it art? Two cartoon takes” — with an annotated list of my postings on the […]

  2. Musk, leather, and the lumberjack forest | Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] is it art? In my 7/21/20 posting “But is it art? Two cartoon takes”, I observe that this […]

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