When we look at an impressive painting or watch an amazing movie or listen to a really good song we often say: “That’s real art!”
Is art a matter of taste? Because the other half of the population is probably going to say: “That’s not art!” while looking at something they do not understand or where quality and craft is missing. However, the question of if something is art is irrelevant in most cases. A work is art if its creator says so. Therefore, the question you should actually ask is: “Is this good art?”
Just like bad food is still food, or an awful movie is still a movie, the word “art” says nothing about the quality of the work.
If we look at art from this perspective, then it is easier to understand how personal taste plays an important role in art.
Of course, there are different kinds of good and bad art in every category: realism, abstract, installations, etc. For example, some people do not like sculptures, but this does not mean that sculptures are bad. The same with popular art genres: not every artwork produced in that style is automatically good because it was created like that.
The personal taste only matters if the quality of the artwork is good. A poor-quality oil painting remains a poor-quality oil painting. No matter if there is a group of people who adore oil paintings.
Art can and should be judged objectively. But what makes us say this is good or bad art?
The answer is not that difficult. If the artist had a goal for his work which for example had an intellectual, aesthetic or a philosophic value for our society and if he/she was able to transfer the chosen subject on the canvas in an impressive and original way, then he/she has created a good artwork.
Let´s take the example of an artist, who wants to create a sculpture and deal with a specific political topic. The artist must follow his goal during the whole creative process. In the end, the observer should understand the meaning of the work and the artist’s opinion by just looking at the sculpture. If the observer has to ask the artist about clarifications regarding what he did or tried to show, then the work has failed its purpose.