Is abstract art real art if it’s created on a computer?

Here’s what I wonder: Is digitally produced abstract art like mine really art at all?

I live in a part of the U.S. that has loads of galleries filled with really terrific paintings and sculpture. Incredibly talented artists are making and selling beautiful things – for a lot of money – in Old Town Scottsdale, Arizona. Roosevelt Row in Phoenix is brimming with “new art”…but again it mostly has to do with a brush and pigment.

So even though every iota of our existence today is digital, for some reason we still demand that our art remain very, very analog. What’s that all about?

Abstract Art

For all of the wonderful art that’s available around me, I rarely see a digital painting or manipulated photograph in any gallery or museum. A lot of people are making digital art, but apparently no one wants to buy it. So I ask myself, “How come?”

I think the digital artist is thinking and shading, and manipulating and storytelling and dreaming and creating just exactly as Rembrandt and Van Gogh and Rothko did – with their hearts and minds.

Is digital abstract art less valuable because it can be so easily reproduced? Maybe, but if that were true why do lithographs and engravings and screen prints catch the art world’s attention? Photography – granted, still considered fine art’s bastard brother – has picked up steam over the years. And people pay pretty high prices for giclées of a famous artist’s oil painting. Digital prints of a painting. Hmmmmm. Maybe it has to do with the artist’s name? Certainly many, many art collectors buy this way. Perhaps digital work just hasn’t been around long enough to have any star artists.

Is digital abstract art any less creative?

Honestly, I think it has to do with the artist’s tools. There is so much history and romance and storied behavior tied up with the paintbrush or chisel. The tools and the outcome are truly magic to us. And many of the artists using those tools were as colorful and tortured as their works, which adds even more to the art’s mystique. But a piece of abstract art done on a computer? How mundane! A little Photoshop or Corel Painter, and you’ve got art.

Abstract ArtYeah, but see I don’t think so.

I think the digital abstract artist is thinking and shading, and manipulating and storytelling and dreaming and creating just exactly as Rembrandt and Van Gogh and Rothko did – with their hearts and minds. But instead of a paintbrush they’re using a stylus and their painting medium is pixels. Knowing a little Photoshop can’t make you a Monet. But being a digital artist might.

I hope to begin seeing digital art in galleries and museums, and not just because that’s what I do, but because that’s the medium that our young artists are completely immersed in. I’d love to see them have long, lucrative careers in an ancient field…just using different tools.

Ready my related post on the value of abstract art here. Then check out my work at ImageAfterimage.com.

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