“We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth.”

– Pablo Picasso 

Do you agree or disagree with this viewpoint, and why? 

Taking Picasso’s quote into consideration, I can immediately identify two opposing ideals that art tends to take on. On one hand, art is most definitely a lie but only in certain cases. Perhaps one major case I can recall from grade school is how art (way before the advent of photography) portrayed someone in a portrait. Because art before photography was in strict sense imperfect, an artist could draw or paint someone in either a view that is close to what the actual appearance of the person is or an exaggerated version.

The exaggerated version especially can be used more often in which the person being illustrated expresses a desire to have themselves look elegantly or beautifully presented, especially if that said person in real life wasn’t all that beautiful. So yes, in this case art is a lie; even when applied to art regarding scenery, an artist can exaggerate the most ugly, out-of-touch, mundane details and ultimately turn the final art piece into something fabricated, even for vibrant appeal. The course lecture material even adds to this by pointing out how Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens has a painting that depicts a similar woman figure as Rembrandt’s except Ruben’s highlights alter the look of the woman for visual appeal (beauty). I would showcase samples here but Rubens is known for nude subjects…

On the other hand, I find that art is indeed truth. Just as there are artists that depict art as a “lie,” there are some artists that accurately depict art based on real-life events. In fact as my art textbook points out, there are 9 major themes of art; of those 9, I consider art depicting stories, histories, life and the human experience as the most truthful areas that art can visually portray. Personal stories and histories in my opinion are essential to be told through visuals and by having such visuals in the form of photography or paintings to represent these experiences only serves to help readers visualize the plot and lessons that one can draw by other means (like orally). The latter two, life and the human experience, I admit can be exaggerated (especially for propaganda use) but I wouldn’t doubt that there are artists that strive to depict the raw truth of one’s life or life experience, with emphasis on hitting on emotional or spiritual depths where needed.

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