It Wasn't Art To Her

It Wasn't Art To Her

By Eddie Boggess

From Cedar Grove House to House/Heart to Heart March/April, 2012

             Officials at the Ostwall museum in Dortmund, Germany, were dismayed to discover that a work of modern art valued at $1.1 million was damaged by an overzealous cleaning woman.  According to a media report1, the late Martin Kippenberger's "When it Starts Dripping from the Ceiling" consisted of a tower of stacked wooden slats with a rubber trough underneath.  Part of the work was the appearance of a dried puddle of water that had been painted onto the trough.  Apparently, the cleaning woman did not realize that the dried puddle was part of the work, so she scrubbed off the paint, thinking she was cleaning up a mess.   What was art to the museum was not art to her!


            What is considered to be art by some is not necessarily art to others.  That's the way art works.  While those who have been trained to appreciate art have principles that govern whether a work is considered art or not, for practical purposes, art is in the eye of the beholder.   As the cleaning woman demonstrates, what one person sees as a work of art, another may see as nothing more than a mess.  Art is in the eye of the beholder.  It is subjective, and there is nothing wrong with that.  Art is about seeing and appreciating beauty.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  What is art to one person may not be art to another, and vice versa.

             What about truth?  Many in the world today have decided that truth, like art, is subjective.  They claim that what is true for one person may not be true for someone else.  Generally, when these claims are made, they are restricted to the intangible truths of life, having to do with religion and morality. There are not many people who are willing to suggest that the truck coming down the street is true for one person but not another, but there are many who claim that religious and moral truth can be true for one person and not true for another.  In so doing, they make religion and morality subjective. Just as each person can chose what he sees to be art, each person can choose his religion and his morality.

             The problem is truth is not like art.  Art has to do with beauty, which is subjective. Truth has to do with reality, which is objective.  Truth is what is real, what corresponds to reality.  Man may not always know truth, but it is always what is real.  Thus, when it comes to truth, man has to come to grips with what is real, rather than choosing what he likes the best.  Though religion and morality are intangible, that does not mean that they are not just as real as the truck coming down the street. God has revealed the truth (reality) of religion and morality to man in His word (John 16:13; James 1:18).  Thus, no matter what modern man may say, religion, morality, and salvation are a matter of "the acknowledgment of the truth" (Titus 1:1-2), not everyone getting to decide what is "true for him."  Truth is not like art.