Art – an open concept.

We have chosen this slogan as the keynote of 2020 edition of Cracow Art Week KRAKERS, because we realize that we are all living in the age of forfeiting definitions.

Art has been acknowledged as an open concept in the 20th century based on the terminology created by Lodwig Wittgenstein. By ‘open concept’ we understand an idea loosely connecting items having no clear common characteristics, only a ‘family resemblance’. This view was heavily criticized as it meant that everything could be called ‘art’.

‘Everything is art’, ‘I see everything as art’ – we know these watchwords very well and we would like the participants of Krakers – galleries, foundations, artists and curators – to take part in the discussion, to confirm or contradict this theory, to create their own alternative definitions and prepare exhibitions regarding the fundamental question: the matter of art and a work of art.

Can this new, analytical approach to aesthetics be helpful? Definitions deriving from philosophical disputes often contradict and controvert with each other which in the end causes the boundaries of what is and what isn’t art to disappear. Inability to express the essence of art with scientific language makes us ask a question if philosophy can get closer to the faint substance, the mystical reality – the art itself, touching something elusive.

Many people say that the notion of art is impossible to pin down as it is being constantly redefined and a new piece can be created that doesn’t fit in the definition.

Ernst Gombrich went even further suggesting there is no such thing as ‘art’ – there are only artists and their creations – the rest is our construct which we build because we need to introduce some kind of an order.

Moving away from the antique and medieval divisions defining art as a craft with clearly set rules or introducing categories like ‘common’ and ‘liberal’ arts, engaging the mind and the body – becomes more and more difficult.

Based on the rennaissance definitions and artists’ aspirations to raise the status of their work and separate it from the crafts, painting and sculpting is being called ‘science’. Later on this was also negated and art detached itself from sciences as well.

In the middle of the 18th century Charles Batteux, a French philosopher, introduced a concept of ‘fine arts’, which included painting, sculpture and architecture. A hundred years later art is connecting itself with creativity, uniqueness, individuality and novelty. Works of art become art itself and artists are motivated by an internal need to create and to express their feelings, to solve their own and universal problems. As a result it expanded beyond aesthetics and the modern concept of art has cast a doubt over its aesthetic nature as well and this is also valid today – art no longer needs beauty.

Our search during the art week might bring us close to Władysław Tatarkiewicz. In his ‘A History of Six Ideas’ he suggest an alternative formula – ‘either-or’. Art is either a recreation, aconstruction of forms or expressing experiences – if the result of these processes is able to fascinate, touch or shake up.

Or maybe we will discover that it was Donald Judd who was right. He said that art is what is considered art – the connecting factor for all works of art is the intention with which they were created. If something was meant to be a work of art – it is one.

According to the contextual definition on the other hand a piece or an event can only be described as a work of art only if so called artworld will call it so based on subjective opinions. What is important is the actual theory of art and also the time and place said work exists in.

Obviously we are not focusing on theory, but we would like to bring it to life with exhibitions, projects in public space, artistic actions and accompanying events bringing important aspects of modern art to a wider audience.