Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A theory of art

My wife and I were out at our local museum last week and ended up in a dark room watching a movie about the restaurant El Bulli, Ferran Adria, and the idea of cooking, restaurant food as fine art. Well, that's not particularly what it was about, but it's the question that I took away from it.

For the purposes of this essay let us take the meaning of "Art" to be the more stringent:

A medium of something created primarily for the communication of feeling or normally incommunicable ideas, sensations, or interior experience.

With this in mind I believe art is not limited to painting, or music, or short essays. Virtually anything created, or performed; a ceramic mug, an appetizer, or library clerking, can, conceivably, be art. But with most things it's just astonishingly difficult. Various mediums are more or less conducive to the carrying of artistic meaning. Just as a bucket is well designed to carry water, music is perfectly designed to carry artistic meaning. And just as a hot marble is poorly designed to carry water, so too is mortgage banking, for instance, ill designed to carry the meanings that would make it art.

Or let me put it in other terms. Different mediums contain different difficulty levels for becoming art. Paintings have a low difficulty level relatively speaking. Thus many of the paintings I have seen I would call art. Art is enormously difficult and complicated, but paintings are good at being art, so I have seen a lot of paintings wherein that goal was achieved. Cooking, as wonderful as it is in so many ways, and as highly evolvable as a skill as it is, doesn't strongly lend itself to being art. I have never had food, as delicious and amazing and satisfying and brilliant as some food I have had has been, that I would consider art. But I have never been to El Bulli. I am willing to accept that it could be art, and from the sound of it from others, it probably is.

And blogging? Can blogging be art?

I don't know. One day someone should give it a shot. 


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. So, did you eat at El Bulli? I think I have if it is the place located in a very large Minneapolis art museum that houses a chihulli in its entrance. Anyway if that is the place I would not call that art. But it was a long time ago. It might have matured into art. When I think of art in food I think if the crispy latke.

    1. No, no, nothing like that in the twin cities I'm afraid. El Bulli was in Spain, on the coast somewhere. I believe the last time it was open was for a season maybe four or five years ago and had millions of requests for a total of 8,000 seatings.

      No, alas, the Mia has never had a particularly good restaurant, but I like their cafe a lot these days.


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