In the Visual Arts Guide there is a series of questions related to TOK “that a visual arts student might consider

  • To what extent is artistic knowledge something which cannot be expressed in any other way?
  • Are ways of knowing employed in radically different ways in the arts than in other areas of knowledge?
  • To what extent does imagination play a special role in the visual arts?
  • What moral responsibilities do artists have?
  • How can the subjective viewpoint of an individual contribute to knowledge in the arts?
  • What are the standards by which we judge artworks?
  • Why might we be more concerned with process rather than product in the search for knowledge?
  • Do the arts have a social function?
  • To what extent is truth different in the arts, mathematics and ethics?

They are all great questions, and I hope that as teachers you discuss with your students the implications of at least some of these questions.

MOBA 1With reference to the question “What are the standards by which we judge artworks?” I would like to point you to the wonderful Museum of Bad Art. (“Art too bad to be ignored”)

The gallery is dedicated to the “collection, preservation, exhibition and celebration of bad art”.

As a face-to-face workshop leader I have had some intensive discussions about what – if anything – constitutes “bad” art.

Some teachers have become quite insistent that some of the art of in MOBA was not bad – but was if fact good art.

Asking students to choose the best (or the worst) from the MOBA collection can also be an exciting and productive exercise, although I suggest you scaffold the activity with some introductory art concepts, questions and examples, particularly if you have students with little experience of art.

For example – does evidence of traditional artistic skill matter?

If so, how much does it matter?

What about the freshness or newness of the ideas?

What about presentation?

What about parody?

What about found objects?

How influential is the exhibition text?

What about conceptual art?

Can anything bMOBA 2e art?

If you ask these questions alongside visuals that illustrate the issues it will at least give the students without much art knowledge/experience some context for their judgments.

(And then there was the teacher who became quite angry and said that no art is bad, and the whole idea of the MOBA was insensitive and unpleasant).

My particular MOBA favourites




MOBA also has a Facebook presence


Grayson Perry’s Reith Lectures: Who decides what makes art good?

By Grayson Perry

How to Judge Art: Five Qualities you can Critique whether you’re an Artist or not

 Artistic taste is inversely proportional to political nous

It’s possibly why Tate Britain’s Artist & Empire exhibition is so thin — and why the Queen’s Gallery display of Dutch masters is so rich

Martin Gayford

What makes good art?

Answers from Art World Pros…

What MOBA says:

Since 1994, the Museum of Bad Art has been dedicated to bad art. It is only through the efforts of the worldwide Friends of MOBA that we have been able to carry out our mission: to bring the worst of art to the widest of audiences.

Our collection numbers about 600 pieces, but due to limited exhibition space, we show 50 to 70 at a time. Each piece is presented with the kind of descriptive narrative you will find with the art here”.

I even have the book – images show front and back cover!