Is Art Subjective?

by | Feb 11, 2022 | All

Yes and no. There are scientific methods that were used to create a rubric through which art can be evaluated, so there is some science behind art. You are likely surprised reading that, as it is not something the average art enthusiast is aware of nor relies on when selecting a new piece of art for their collection. Most of us use our own personal tastes and preferences to decide if we like a particular piece of art or not. 

Which is a subjective way to appreciate art.


Acquired Taste

There are certainly pieces of art, or even artists broadly, that require an acquired taste. I am sure you have heard examples of an artist crumpling paper, or slightly altering an everyday object, and calling it art. There are people that are able to appreciate the intention behind that form of art, whereas others may think of the artwork as silly. The ability to appreciate art really is within the beholder.


Emotional Influence

The way we are feeling when we are viewing a piece of art can have an impact on our opinion of that particular piece of art. If you happen to stumble on a piece of art when you are feeling down, and you really connect with it, the next day, when you are in a good mood, you likely won’t have the same connection to the artwork as you did when you were in a more emotional state. Reinforcing the thought that art is subjective, not only do our own unique preferences impact whether we like a piece of art, but our mindset in that moment plays a role in our opinion, too.


Some Objectivity

As is true with all forms of entertainment, we begin to notice preferential patterns with art that allow for some science and strategy to become a factor. Things like color theory, ratio, proportion, and composition can be, and have been, evaluated to understand what speaks to the masses. Whether I as an artist realize it or not, I may be incorporating some of that science into my art, simply because that is what I am drawn to. I likely do with my art. There is a reason for that tendency, and it is based in science. Even though there is a way to objectively say whether a piece of art is good or bad, there will always be exceptions to the rule because art appreciation is rooted in personal opinion.

Though there are mechanisms specifically designed to evaluate the quality of a piece of art, at the end of the day, art will always be a matter of preference. With all of our individual life journeys, and the memories that we brought with us from the past, there are variables at play that alter each of our perceptions of the world around us, art included. 

Due to our personal experienced having such a strong influence on our beliefs and preferences, even if a piece of art is declared “exceptional” per the evaluation system that was created, we may hate the piece. Our perception and relationship to the piece of art, no matter the other variables, will be the only factors that determine if we like the artwork, and that is what makes the industry so amazing. 


There is someone out there that will appreciate any artist’s form of expression, and there is something particularly special about that.


See my original artwork on my portfolio page.
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