I recently saw this meme on Facebook:
These two different Mona Lisa artworks highlight how we often think of the concept of art as a singularity – when really there are many levels of creation.
You can think of the levels of creation as a layered chocolate cake. Which level is the best? Is it the succulent chocolate cake itself? Some a secret ingredient of the Baker? What flavor is the filling – perhaps cherry, pineapple, or another type of chocolate? Or is the best part the frosting?
Everybody loves a different layer – some people love the overall sweet experience. Some people love the surprise of the different fillings. For me, I think the best part is the frosting. But without any one of those layers, the cake would not be the same.
Each layer is unique, and art is the same way. If everything in the cake was the same – if everything in art was the same – the cake would be plain and bland and wouldn’t be as desirable. The individuality of each flavor in each layer make the cake. The cake, like art, needs that variety and uniqueness to make something wonderful.
We cannot forget that all those layers need a foundation – without the cake, all you have is a pile of filling and frosting (some may argue that sounds delicious, but it’s no longer technically a cake). When artists create art, much as a baker creates a cake, they must think outside of the Betty Crocker box. The best creations are works created from scratch. Each carefully chosen ingredient adds to the uniqueness of the final creation. And we all know the best cakes are made from scratch.
So back to the example of the Mona Lisa works above. Both are original creations made from scratch. Although many would think the Mona Lisa on the left holds more value, if your child created the Mona Lisa on the right, it would likely be framed and displayed proudly, exhibiting and celebrating its uniqueness, just as the original Mona Lisa is in a gallery proudly exhibiting and celebrating its uniqueness.
We often define art in terms of commodity, as highlighted by the meme above – but somehow everyone understands the value of something made from scratch. We understand the value of uniqueness.
Art lovers support the arts and own art because of their uniqueness, and how they relate to the uniqueness of a specific work of art, and the artist who created it. Art lovers collect what they love, not something that is popular, or fashionable, or matches their sofa and accent pillows.
Where do I stand with the two Mona Lisa works above? I support both. I support uniqueness and individuality in creation everywhere – in art, in cake, in all of us.