1414793298_7703711a51_oQuestion: can anything be art?

This, of course, is as much a DP Theory of Knowledge question as a DP visual arts one, and it may be a question that you have already tried to answer either in school or out. In many ways the definition of art is constantly changing, just as the things that artists do evolve and sometimes challenge conventions.


Use your body

Some mark-making ‘conventions’ are very old but still not exactly traditional.  In the French Pyrenees the walls of some caves are painted with dramatic murals dating from the Gravettian culture (some 25,000 years BC), with paintings including handprints and footprints.

(The Gravettian period occurred in Europe between 30,000 and 22,000 years ago during the Upper Paleolithic).

Pech_Merle_main*See the Peche Merle screen on Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pech_Merle

So while not traditional, at 25,000 years it’s certainly got longevity.


And it was revived during the short life of Yves Klein (1928 – 62) in the 1960s when “a number of works Klein made using naked female models covered in blue paint and dragged across or laid upon canvases to make the image, using the models as “living brushes”. This type of work he called Anthropometry.”


This kind of ‘Body art’ makes an occasional appearance in the digital upload. In fact, more than five years ago – March 2010 – I described the impact of Yves Klein (“The Good Old Days”) on some DP visual arts student art shows. The Good Old Days”

 So using our own bodies to document and record our existence (or at least our shape) is in a sense on-going.

I have certainly seen this kind of thing in the Studio upload for the current (‘old’) course – I saw some examples submitted for the May 2015 session and I expect we’ll see some process portfolio screens and/or exhibition files that also document this process in the May 2016 session.

In assessment terms, if this form of mark making interests you then you need to back it up with evidence of your contextual and conceptual understanding. You need to show the examiner that it’s more than a simple if colourful way of creating artwork. If you want to submit a body print in your exhibition then the place to show your understanding would be in the curatorial rationale and the relevant exhibition text.

 Empreinte_11-1997And yes, there is something appealing about making a simple and direct impression of your form, in effect saying, “I was here – and to prove it here is an imprint”. It’s fun to do, of course, and it’s important that some parts of the art-making process are enjoyable – but as an audience experience it’s not always successful or meaningful.

There needs to be some rationale to give more weight to an art piece that, in effect, anybody could make.



It’s a little unusual but certainly not unknown for DP visual arts student to include photographs of their own painted face or that of their friends, but as before, it needs to have some explanation and contextual reference, for example – why are you doing this and who else has done it?