When art functions as entertainment…

Can visual art such as a painting function as pure entertainment and still be art? My boyfriend argues yes.

I’m reading Sabbath’s Theater by Philip Roth, because said boyfriend left one of many copies at my house and I was destitute for a story. I’m withholding judgment on the tale of those lusty old adulterers for the moment.

Said boyfriend bought his third (fourth?) copy of Sabbath’s Theater because the cover of appealed to him; a sailor leering over a women on a red background. It’s a reproduction of German painter Otto Dix‘s Girl with Sailor. (Unfortunately, the image is not on the internet.) The cover shows the sailor’s face on the front, and where his hand is reaching over a pale woman on the back.

We googled Dix’s other works, which I’ve never cared for and my boyfriend found quite “fun.” Many of his paintings share the same lurid quality. Especially his art deco-ish scenes, I find a flat amalgamation of colors without harmony or meaning. His darker and more straight forward critiques of Wiemar lack subtlety and imagination. We both agree it’s poster art, mere decoration. But am I right to put in that “mere”? Why shouldn’t art be decoration?

Artists’ works are described as important, as agents of social change. That is, I’ve yet to walk into a gallery and been told that it held random bits of pretty fluff with which to decorate.

Art is a loaded term, so, despite my genius and discerning taste on so many levels, I won’t attempt to define art here. But I’m intereseted in what you think. What do you want out of art? Casual amusement, to be moved, to be entertained, to think differently because of it? Have I elevated art to unrealistic ideals by expecting more than decoration out of it?

Poster art only?

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