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Essay 3 by Giridharan Iyer

Topic: To be labeled a work of art, a painting, sculpture or other art form should display certain qualities that are unique. However, over the last century there has been a decline in the quality of prize-winning artwork and it is now possible for quite ordinary pieces of art to be labeled ‘masterpieces’ whilst true works of art pass unnoticed. Do you agree or disagree? Give reasons.


To be labeled a work of art, a painting, sculpture, or any other art form should possess unique qualities that set it apart. However, over the last century, there has been a discernible decline in the quality of prize-winning artwork, allowing quite ordinary pieces to be dubbed 'masterpieces' while true works of art go unnoticed. I wholeheartedly concur with this perspective and shall elucidate my reasons below.


Art has undeniably witnessed a gradual deterioration in recent years. This lamentable trend can largely be attributed to the commodification of art. Today, art is often created with the primary intention of being sold, leading to a scarcity of true masterpieces. In contrast, art from the past was deeply entrenched in the artistic tradition, where the magnificence of a piece was a reflection of the artist's exceptional skill and innate talent. Artists of yore worked diligently with limited tools and technology to achieve the perfect stroke or expression. Their motivation was the earnest desire to convey their emotions and creativity onto canvas, often resulting in timeless masterpieces that continue to inspire generations. A prime example is the Mona Lisa, housed in the Louvre Museum in Paris, and the sculpture of David in Florence, Italy. These iconic works have drawn millions of tourists and art enthusiasts worldwide and are valued at millions of dollars. Yet, their creators, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, never aspired to amass fortunes from their creations.


The contemporary commercialization of art has played a pivotal role in diluting its quality. In today's art world, the recognition of a piece often hinges more on its price tag at auctions or the reputation of the artist rather than its inherent artistic merit. Those who purchase paintings at exhibitions or auctions for exorbitant sums rarely take the time to critically analyze and appreciate the true value of the artwork. Consequently, even ordinary paintings and sculptures can achieve worldwide fame merely by being sold at astronomical prices. Moreover, artists are increasingly willing to compromise their creative integrity to cater to popular tastes and preferences, all in pursuit of financial gain.


In conclusion, the degradation of art is an unfortunate reality in the modern era. It is disheartening to observe that the promotion and commercialization of art, rather than its intrinsic quality, have become the dominant factors in labeling a painting or sculpture as extraordinary. True masterpieces are indeed becoming increasingly rare, overshadowed by ordinary works elevated to undeserved status. This alarming trend underscores the need to rekindle the spirit of art for art's sake, reinvigorating the pursuit of true artistic excellence.

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