Is it Art?

“Graphic Novels are the up and coming art form of the twenty-first century.”

This statement by Allen Rubinstein in his article from Cultural Weekly titled “Are Comics the Art Form of This Century?” is an example of the bold statements being made by many in the field of comics. While this statement is based on the rise of Graphic Novels seen in the marketplace throughout the last few decades, it’s important to give attention to comics in general and this form of artistic narrative.

Let’s begin with a definition of what “Art” is; Dictionary dot com defines art as:

“the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.”

I took a class last semester — Computer Mediated Communication — where we spent some time discussing the concepts of art in the digital age. What bothers me about the definition above, are the words “…according to aesthetic principles,…”. From the book in my previous class Understanding Social Media, I learned how our cultural social construct places the determination of what is considered art within a box and those specific people who decide the parameters of that box. For instance, a typical museum has a staff of experts that determine what they believe is art and places that on display for the public, who in turn forms an unconscious schema in which we believe that is what art must be.

I prefer to form my own opinion on what defines art and my focus is on the terms expression, beautiful, and appealing. There are many forms of art with the methods and limits of human expression constantly evolving. Even as comics evolve from print to digital, the expression of the artist remains the same. The talent one has to design, draw, build, create and express themselves through the medium of comics is no less impressive to me than artists such as DaVinci, Michelangelo, Vernet, Shakespeare, Pollock, Kruger, and thousands more over the course of human history.

While my eyes and interests pull me in specific directions as I seek out art, I do not limit myself to the constraints others may put on the determination of what is art. I haven’t read a comic books since High School. Yet from that time on, I have always considered comics a beautiful art form that often reflects the culture and time period they were written in. For their cultural significance alone, there is no doubt in my mind that comics are most definitely art.

Image courtesy of Allen Rubinstein.


2 thoughts on “Is it Art?”

  1. “Art” is something that’s really hard to pin down. I like your emphasis on “expression”, though I would hesitate to focus on “beautiful”. I think art could be made around ugly things.


  2. Art is a really general term that can be used to reference such a wide variety of things, even the act of creation can be art (see: performance art) While some visual art is meticulously planned out for pure aesthetic, some is more free form and slap-dash (I mean, c’mon Jackson Pollock). That isn’t even mentioning music, theatre, photography, literature, and on and on and on. I definitely consider comics to be ranked among the arts.


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