High art / low art

An old Calvin and Hobbes strip, in my comics feed for today:

Calvin attempts to police the invidious distinction between high art (art for art’s sake, as they say, with no goal other than ennobling the subject of the art or critiquing its content — as opposed to art serving some sociocultural function), taking off from paintings (high art) vs. comic strips (low art), but then falling into a bottomless pit of meta-art, meta-meta-art, etc.

“But is it [high] art?” is a recurrent theme on this blog. I routinely note the judgment of high art is not in fact primarily made on the basis of the goal of the work, but always is made by reference to an established structuring of the world of artists, exhibitions, agents, and the like. And I have advocated for the celebration of high levels of craft wherever it’s found.


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