Posts tagged ‘Psalms’

April 26, 2012

Good Art Versus Bad Art: What’s the Standard?

In our society, it is politically incorrect to label anything good or bad. Gone are the days of black and white morality, replaced by smudged lines between varied hues of gray. Anything goes, depending on who you are. It’s all relative and it’s all subjective.

With this in mind, it’s very difficult for me to address art in terms of good and bad. I desperately want it all to come back down to a matter of individual opinion. Since it isn’t that easy, I then want to develop a cookie cutter formula of what good art is. But I can’t do that either.

In order to discern good art from bad art in this age of relativity and subjectivity, I must continually dwell on the Supreme Artist, aligning my artistic thinking to His. Meditating on the Good One – the source of all things good – allows me to have God’s perspective on what good art is.

 God’s artist heart and art can be most readily found in His creation. Whether looking to the sky at planets, solar systems, constellations and galaxies or watching a radiant sunset or a violent storm, God’s artistic hand can be seen in all of it. This past weekend I took a mini-trip north to watch the sun set over Lake Texoma. There were no clouds to diffuse and refract the sunlight as with my favorite kind of sunset, but watching the sun and the sun’s reflection slowly meet as beams of light filtered through lush trees was breathtaking. In those moments from sunset to dusky darkness, I was powerfully aware that this was the same light that God created and called good (Genesis 1:16-18).  And if God calls something good, He must have a standard by which He applies that term.  I am convinced, then, that good cannot be relative and cannot be subjective, and that if I am going to talk about the goodness or badness of art, I must use His standards.

 Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – think (or meditate) on these things” (NKJV).  I would encourage you to look these qualities of things we should be dwelling on in a dictionary. You will find, as I did, that most of them have moral components.  To be moral simply means to be right. I’m going to venture out and say that good art will be moral: it will be genuine, excellent, desirable, powerful and commendable.

Good art – in fact, the very best art draws attention to and glorifies God. God’s art also does this. Psalm 19:1-4 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech or language where there voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth and their words to the end of the world” (NKJV).  Good art does not know day, night or cultural boundaries, but intentionally or unintentionally good art (the best art) will point to the Supreme Artist.

Good art is intentional: there will always be a purpose behind good art. God also leads by example in this. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His workmanship (artisanship, craftsmanship) created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” In this verse, a believer’s life is a work of art, intended for good works, prepared by God. Good art is purposeful.

This is by no means a complete concept of good art. Even with a redeemed mind, I cannot begin to fathom God’s standard and concept of good. I know that whatever I perceive as good (even in His creation), He has so much better in store: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). I did want to introduce the idea, though, and in the coming weeks and months various artists will dig deeper into it.


Lydia T. holds a Bachelor of Arts in Radio, Television, and Film from the University of North Texas. Her goal is to know Christ and make Him known among artists and in art.

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