On the Excellency of Art

Above: an example of traditional Ethiopian art, depicting Yared performing before king Kaleb. According to a legend, the monarch had become so enchanted by this music that he accidentally hurt the musician, but both of them didn`t even realize when spear held by the king pierced a foot of Yared.

I`ve discussed a lot of times with my longtime friend and neighbor Bartosz Kowalski, who is an acknowledged Polish composer, i.a. about the issue: what does it really mean that something could be called a great or magnificent piece of art?

For me, if something is a magnificent work of art, then it is possible to tell the original from copies (when they have been manually crafted (*)).

The presented point of view is controversial, I`m clearly aware of this fact. One of the consequences of this approach is that something regarded as a masterpiece now, might be deprived of this status in the future – due to brilliant counterfeits (also understood as the imitation of the writing style, as far as literature of any kind is also concerned).

It would be possible to avoid this perplexing conclusion, assuming that the one who would succeed in making the exact copy of the genuine object, should be called a great artist as well. Nevertheless, this is a dangerous solution, for it might lead to decline of the artist`s social status.

The reversed sentence, changed slightly: if it`s possible to tell the original from copies (when they have been manually crafted), then the object being discussed is a magnificent work of art, wouldn`t always be true, that`s for sure.

For instance, I`m able to paint a lot of weak pictures, which would be rather uneasy to copy, but I do not consider myself a painter.

(*) Radosław Wilski, a philosopher, has pointed out this important aspect during our conversation.

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