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The theory that an artwork could be either true or false is very much an interesting question, one that is almost impossible to answer because of the differing perspectives of the artist and the audience of such artwork. There are also many different contexts and ways to look at this theory; it could be looked at as if the artwork is an original or a copy, or as if an artwork is true in its representation of what is trying be created, or even as if the artwork is truly art or not. I feel that art can be true or false, but it also can not be true or false. It’s purely based on the perspective I’m taking when viewing an artwork.
When looking at old religious art I sometimes find myself wondering how true the representations are to the actual event that is trying to be recreated. Not only do I wonder about the paintings myself but also the information that is given about the artwork. One event that has many different artworks based on it that I find particularly interesting is the crucifiction of Jesus Christ. There are many different depictions of this event that have been created over centuries, and many of them have similarities that are often discussed. Throughout time this event has been painted or modeled many times, and a consistent factor between them tends to be two people or beings watching from above. Most say that it is just the sun and moon, as they were often put into paintings with faces to represent gods. But it is argued that they aren’t just the sun and moon but actual people or beings watching over. One painting in particular that is very interesting is in a monastery in Kosovo from 1350, that depicts the two people watching over as if they were in spacecrafts. This is something I find interesting as we will most likely never know what truly happened at the crucifixion of Jesus as the information is not available to us. That really goes with most artwork of historical events because the artwork may be all there is to tell the about event so it is taken at face value, often with no real context or true insight into the artwork. So the artwork can very well be true or false, there just isn’t the information necessary to gauge which it is.
This ignorance allows history in general to be told be told by any perspective anyone wants and it will stand true because there’s no information to oppose it. Such ignorance is shown countless times throughout history, one example is totalitarian leaders convincing their people that they are free and everything is great. Often dictators will erect statues and monuments to give a sense of greatness and achievement that is positive for the country or people. There is a monument in North Korea, Mansu Hill Grand Monument, of former leaders Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il. This monument depicts the former leaders as grand and cheerful, as they are trying to show how great their country and leadership is. I find this to be false art because it doesn’t show the true devastation that is happening and has been happening for a long time in North Korea. Not only that but it doesn’t represent the slave labor used to create these grand monuments. But the people of North Korea don’t really understand the world they’re living in because of the sheltered information they receive, thus any art showing a grand and happy state of North Korea is false. Art can be a great way to manipulate and twist the truth into a favorable representation. Luckily, in the western world there is a much greater difference of opinion and information that comes in. Which brings in the argument of credibility, so it really becomes an individual decision on who you trust to give truthful information.
Artwork doesn’t always have to be representing something that has happened or trying to provide information. Artwork can simply be a creative work stemmed from the imagination of the artist, based on basically anything the artist wants. This means that the art can’t be true or false because it is just a way to represent the feelings or thoughts of the artist in a tangible way for others to try to view. There doesn’t have to be a right or wrong way of looking at some artwork, it’s more based on feeling, appreciating, and enjoying the art that has been created. When I look at Claude Monet’s work, as his paintings are often of nature, I don’t think there is any right or wrong way to view his art; it is more about the feelings that can be triggered when looking at it. These feelings are different for every person as we all have different emotions and experiences that shape who we are as people. So there really is no question of true or false within some artwork because it’s a purely individual experience that will vastly vary between people.
One of the best things about all types of artwork is that they don’t have to be viewed and analyzed in a manner of true or false. Art, ranging from nature to architecture to paintings, is enjoyed by so many people just for its beauty and representation of emotion. It allows people to escape the real world and tune out the outside distractions, and just enjoy the creation of another person. I think it’s important in some situations to not have to worry about facts and truth within something but to just plainly enjoy what it offers to you as an individual, whether that be a memory, an emotion, or a feeling. Without this pure sense of just feeling without analyzing or over thinking, there would certainly be a lot more to worry about as I find artwork to be a great escape from reality.
Overall, I think artwork can can certainly be viewed as true or false if there is factual thing or event being represented within the art. But to know if something is true or false depends completely on the perspectives of the artist and audience. There is no real gauge to know if artwork is true or false, there is only a personal decision on whether or not the person that created the artwork is credibility within the information they are giving. But artwork can also have no possibility of it being true or false because it is just something created to enjoy and experience in an individual manner. So there is no real need for the artwork to be judged as true or false, but it can then be discussed and debated on its artistic technique, styling, etc. In the end I’ve found that artwork does not have to be true or false, but certainly has the potential ability to be either true or false.
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