Art for nobody

There are numerous examples throughout history of somebody creating something we end up labeling as “art”, which were never intended to be experienced by other people. One canonical example of this is the diary of Anne Frank.

Another famous example is found in the many manuscripts of Franz Kafka, most of which he instructed his friend and literary executor Max Brod to burn upon Kafka’s death. Fortunately for us, Brod did not burn anything.

Which leaves us with a question: If somebody never intends a work — be it painting, sculpture, poem, song, novel or something else — to be experienced by others, is it still art?

Or does art require that most basic contract between creator and audience: That there be an intended audience?

My own take is that we need a different word for such works. The word “art” doesn’t not quite encompass the antisocial provenance of such creations, because the creation of art is fundamentally an act of intentional communication.

But what would be a good word?

4 thoughts on “Art for nobody”

  1. If the intended audience is the artist, I would still think of that as “art for nobody”. For example, if you kept a secret diary, it would fall within this category.

  2. Can Art rather be an act by itself not always intented consciously, a pure expression of our inner self at one moment in time (maybe then reaching million by its objective value) ?

    In the same way, is a mathematical proof unscientific if done by a lone mathematician on its carnets found in its logcabin in the middle of the taïga ?

    I think the word with its capital A already means it all. Art transcends our understanding of Nature, like Science do, and does not necessarly needs a judge of its value.

    But maybe an other question is : is every creative act “Art”.
    Well, yeah in some ways.

    So really we want here to judge something from some set of external subjective values. Maybe esthetical, political, trendy or any other contemporary tropes. But I would not considerate that “Art” but rather “Fashionable Design” 🙂

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