Chinese Chairs and a Coffee Table or what has Furniture to do with Art? (part 2)

July 17, 2008

In the last post I already mentioned that creating something “practical” has indeed something to do with art if you want to consider that differentiation between craft and art. I always say, craft is the practical side of the creative process and art is the emotional and philosophical part of creativity. For both parts you need to know your materials, you need to know something about techniques and all that other stuff you either learn at art college or by yourself, studying other work, books, visiting workshops etc. The means are ubiquitous.

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Nothing yet can replace your own practice.
I also say that working on materials such as wood f.e. , doing all that physical stuff, keeps your head free of all the pondering and deep emotional process that is involved in art, that is far beyond any practical and/or decorative requirements. I am not saying that working on a craft does not imply any emotions – on the contrary – I felt deep joy and satisfaction creating these chairs and seeing them develop nicely. Anyone who has ever created something in many hours does know that priceless feeling.

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And the other side? Who does not know that terrible frustration when you realize that after hours and hours of work there would be no result or the result is not what you expected. That sense of failure can be very de-motivating. But each failure is a further step to your goal and another achievement on your ladder of learning. We never learn through success – we only learn through failures. This applies to anything whether it’s related to art or not.

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Practising stuff such as building or constructing something is training for your hands. Try it if you don’t believe me. Use something different than your brush. You will realize that it is a voluptuous and nearly erotic feeling to fondle a wonderful piece of wood or working with cloth or stone. I often touch my sculptures, run my fingers over their faces and just love that feeling of smooth and shiny wood.

There is no need to sniff at these kinds of things, when so called art experts tell you to stay within your range of work and condemn everything that cannot be applied to certain drawers. Famous artists have been accused to jump from one style to another, from one subject to a completely different. Who out there has the right to tell you what you should do and what not. Always challenging you with the argument that you won’t be taken seriously if you don’t sign your work with a recognizable signature (meant in a metaphorical sense).

I sometimes wonder whether “they” would have told this da Vinci too… 😯

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(check out the next part…)

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4 Responses to “Chinese Chairs and a Coffee Table or what has Furniture to do with Art? (part 2)”


  1. I’ve only just begun my artistic learning, but I’d love to venture out into different media at some point. It’s hard to argue against those chairs being art. The craftsmanship is amazing. Very beautiful.

  2. vyala Says:

    Hi Francis – this is a very nice compliment. From the philosophical point of view (and surely the ones of the art league) I would say it is not art but a craft, an artistic one perhaps but still a craft. Art however has no practical meaning or purpose in itself – craft has. This craft has the purpose for being used as a chair to sit on, or for pure decoration. But it definitely has no meaning other than that.
    There is a difference between an artistic craft which might have been executed very well and art that does not always require sophisticated workmanship (opposite for doing something deliberately in a raw or loose manner) but rather an eye and a hand for using the right context and material for the subject you want to represent.
    For fine art it is a bit different and the bar is raised higher: here perfect craftmanship is a requirement on top of handling the subject.

  3. Alex Says:

    I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!

  4. vyala Says:

    Hi Alex – just found your comment in my spam folder – don’t know why it landed there. Thanks for your kind words!


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