Why Art?

Why Art?

What is “Art”? It’s widely accepted that art serves an important function in society. But the concept falls under such an absurdly large umbrella and can manifest in so many different ways. Art can be self indulgent, goofy, serious, altruistic, evil, or expressive, or any number of other things. But how can it truly make lasting, positive change? In Why Art?, acclaimed gra...

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Title:Why Art?
Author:Eleanor Davis
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Why Art? Reviews

  • David Schaafsma

    Well, that was unexpected. This is to my mind one of the best comics creations I have encountered this year, or in awhile. And not exactly a graphic novel, exactly. But it is, too, finally, as a story emerges. Let me explain:

    Great cartoonist/illustrator Davis creates a book with a kind of textbook title, to help students of art understand the nature of art, gradually appears to spoof and unravel that purpose in surrealistic or absurdist ways, and then shows us she has been serious all along, rea

    Well, that was unexpected. This is to my mind one of the best comics creations I have encountered this year, or in awhile. And not exactly a graphic novel, exactly. But it is, too, finally, as a story emerges. Let me explain:

    Great cartoonist/illustrator Davis creates a book with a kind of textbook title, to help students of art understand the nature of art, gradually appears to spoof and unravel that purpose in surrealistic or absurdist ways, and then shows us she has been serious all along, really. Her book really could be used as a textbook or reflection on the nature of art and the purpose of the imagination in the world, after all.

    In the end the text, which early on is a series of illustrations and cartoons about ideas about color and form, evolves into an allegory about a collective of artists that calls attention to the fact that technical issues are really not the most important aspect of what art is about. Art is ultimately about its relationship to life, and to its transformative powers. Art is at its best heart and soul and society.

    But we get to that simple, possibly reductive point in unexpected ways. And we do look at a range of possibilities in art, ranging from realistic representation to performance art. Finally, we do grapple with questions artists have struggled with for centuries such as the centrality of and definitions of beauty.

    Maybe this book is not for everyone, if you like conventional art and tales, but this is a book not written by a scholar of art but an artist. Why Art? was definitely for me. In the end it gets wild, seemingly out of control, and it actually moved me in a way that surprised me. I loved it.

  • Carolee Wheeler

    Eleanor, what does the inside of your mind look like?

  • Sophie Croteau

    I didn’t think a 20 minutes read could make me cry.

  • Liz Yerby

    Part comics, part textbook, Davis is asking some big questions. a very enjoyable little ride.

  • Derek Royal

    What I thought would be a more expository text actually turned out to be something completely different. And fascinating. In many ways this is an enigmatic text, but multiple readings reveal a more coherent message, or messages, about the potential of creativity.

  • Diz

    This is a bit bizarre. It's not really about art, but about how people relate to art and what it means in their lives. Also, it's about how the power of creation leads us to learn something about ourselves. It does get a bit abstract at times, so multiple readings are probably necessary to fully appreciate it.

    The way this book is written is more like a children's picture book for adults rather than as a comic, so there is a lot less text than in a typical comic. This makes it easy to do the mul

    This is a bit bizarre. It's not really about art, but about how people relate to art and what it means in their lives. Also, it's about how the power of creation leads us to learn something about ourselves. It does get a bit abstract at times, so multiple readings are probably necessary to fully appreciate it.

    The way this book is written is more like a children's picture book for adults rather than as a comic, so there is a lot less text than in a typical comic. This makes it easy to do the multiple readings that are needed.

  • dv

    A beautifully unexpected voyage into the world of art. It starts like a common sense visual guide on art, it expands by investigating subtle aspects of the activities of researching, producing and communicating art, it explodes into chaos and them comes back with great insights. A great little book.

  • Rod Brown

    Davis takes a tongue-in-cheek look at her title question while managing to be just a bit profound. From the opening pages ("Orange artworks. Blue ones. Both orange and blue ones.") made me laugh out loud and think immediately of This Is Not an Apple and Dr. Seuss. That sense of playfulness continues throughout with some digressions into deeper pain, especially the performance artist section. Clever overall, but a bit too odd for me in the end.

  • Adam Stone

    Is art blue? Is it orange? How big is art? These questions and more are involved in Eleanor Davis's "Why Art?"

    There are several five star reviews already about how wonderful this book is, and about how they are going to sleep with it next to their bed.

    I'm very happy people have found joy in this book.

    For me, it seemed really empty.

    An artist who is himself flimsy is made of paper maiche.

    A performance artist who sincerely says "I love you" to her audience is sincere.

    So?

    I had the same sense of "

    Is art blue? Is it orange? How big is art? These questions and more are involved in Eleanor Davis's "Why Art?"

    There are several five star reviews already about how wonderful this book is, and about how they are going to sleep with it next to their bed.

    I'm very happy people have found joy in this book.

    For me, it seemed really empty.

    An artist who is himself flimsy is made of paper maiche.

    A performance artist who sincerely says "I love you" to her audience is sincere.

    So?

    I had the same sense of "shrug emoji" that I had reading Rupi Kaur's poetry. These statements and ideas seem like they should be deep, but they don't actually say anything, and provide me with no emotional connection to, well, anything.

    It does revisit its revelations about characters by the end, so it builds to...something.

    I guess I would recommend it to people who like Instagram poetry but wish it had a long, disjointed narrative.

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