What Constitutes Obscure Art – And Where Do We Draw The Line?

You know how they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I believe that holds true to a certain extent. I think certain things that people think are beautiful, and other people don’t, varies on the intent and content implied by the Creator.

Because, I’ve seen art that people think is beautiful, and personally some pieces actually turned my stomach. Is this what constitutes obscure art? I really hate to say that, because I would never knock somebody’s creative process, ever as an artist myself. I would not want somebody to look at something that I’ve made and think it was horrid and should never be seen or appreciated.

Definition of Obscure

Merriam Webster defines: Obscure

Adjective.obscure, dark, vague, enigmatic, cryptic, ambiguous, equivocal mean not clearly understandable. obscure implies a hiding or veiling of meaning through some inadequacy of expression or withholding of full knowledge.


A good example of obscure would be this young fellow here above, I’m sure he feels pretty comfortable with the way he looks. But to someone else he would seem quite obscure, dark, vague, enigmatic, cryptic.

But as an artist and as someone who used to play in bands back in the day, I can understand his dramatic expression and the right to put it out there.

However we are not talking about attire, we are talking about art, I just used this picture as an example to get my point across

But that brings me back to Beauty being in the eye of the beholder, I don’t think that’s 100% true. For example, I remember about 15 years ago looking through this book it was a short, thick, weird little book I would say classifies as a coffee table book. Inside, it had various forms of Art, and one of the things I saw in there, that really like I said earlier turned my stomach, was this person would create things with…. Dried urine.

So again I don’t understand how they would even begin to explore the possibilities of using something of that substance to make “art”.

I guess my mind is wired a little different, and you know what I’m okay with that lol.

But this post and this website is not designed to knock people in their forms of expression, even if their form of expression is using bodily spent liquids, excrement, urine, or whatever excretion they decide to experiment with to create their art.

Interpretation of obscure

Now my second point is interpretation of what’s obscure and what’s not. A lot of that has to do with where a person comes from, what their influences were growing up, the people around them, what they’ve seen, what they haven’t seen, what they have read, what their feelings are made of, what makes them angry, what makes them happy, what scares the living crap out of them, and what they’re okay with seeing.

You could use that same scale to gauge a movie, or even a song. Again expressions of Art, and again even with movies there would be some obscurities.

So for example if someone were to look at Picasso’s art, which in my opinion I would have to say a lot of his pieces would have to be classified as obscure. In some of his paintings he would put the eyes in the scape of what’s deemed as normal, in the wrong place. Or how he would have the arms bent unnaturally etc.

But it has to do with how he views things, and how he wants others to view what the interpretation of his views are.

It’s like what I learned as a poetry writer, poetry is subjective. People either love poetry or they don’t, even to the point of hating it.

So in the world of obscure art interpretation plays a huge part, because if somebody doesn’t get it or even like it and the artist is looking to sell it, it’s going to be a hard thing to sell.

If no one likes it.

So it’s nice that we are a diverse culture of appreciators on so many levels, otherwise a lot of art pieces would not get liked, appreciated or even sold.

So going back to the guy that likes to make things out of pee sorry to be so crass, somebody out there must admire urine-craft, just writing that feels weird lol.

I remember a while back me and my ex-girlfriend went to this art Museum, and we were looking at pieces of Art, sculptures, and carvings and to me just wonderful things.

I remember a lot of the time she was asking me “what is it?” “Like I don’t see what it’s supposed to be”, “how can you tell what that is?” Because, have an interpretation of what the artist is trying to put across, I could share in their vision or scope. You could even go as far as to say that the artist is communicating with the public through his or her art so interpretation is understanding the language that the artist is speaking.

Contemplation of Obscure


The next thing about appreciating or not appreciating obscure art would be contemplation.

Contemplation is just a fancy word for thought. So if you have a preconceived notion of what something is going to be like before you look at it, or you hear about it, and then you actually go and look at it.

Well your first interpretation because of your preconceived contemplation is either going to be good or bad. I know it sounds like I’m getting Fancy with psychological words and terms but this is really how I perceive it.

It’s just like what I learned about communicating a few years back. During a conversation more than two things are happening.

1) a person speaks

2) a person hears.

3) the person that hears also has what they want to say prior to what person 1. Says.

4) person 2. May or may not want to hear what person 1. Is saying so they already have a preconceived thought or premonition of what the person is getting at or assuming,

5) and in a lot of instances their mind is already closed off to what person 1. Is saying. and

6) they’re not really listening in the first place. That might not be exactly how it works but I’m pretty sure that’s pretty close.

So if you already go in thinking this thing’s going to suck, chances are it’s going to suck. But if you go in thinking, man I can’t wait to see this thing, I’ve heard so much about it, I bet it’s highly incredible. Then it’s probably going to be pretty incredible, rare, unique, beautiful, spectacular, and awesome.

Unless, and this is me reaching way into the dark depths of weirdness.. You go in to view this thing and it happens to be one of those wind machine fans spraying blood and spit all over the place, with entrails and french fries hanging off the chandeliers, lights, and walls, and the floor is covered in kidney sauce, and dominoes and there’re are bones glued to the tables and chairs… Yuck!

I’m just kind of painting a worst-case scenario as far as if you thought it was going to be awesome and you go on and it looks like that, well it’s pretty much going to suck, in my opinion anyway… LOL

Appreciation of Obscure

And finally Appreciation is liking, admiring, wanting to behold, coveting in your heart, and respecting what the artist put into it and admiring the techniques they use to make it so awesome.

But again that goes back to your definition of what is to be appreciated. Because if it looks like he or she opened a cooked box of macaroni and cheese, and whipped it at a canvas, spilled some ketchup on it and put two toothpicks in it plus sprayed shellac all over it and called it art. Well in a lot of people’s opinion that might be pretty stupid lol

But again that may be the artist’s expression and that cooked macaroni and cheese might represent something that we don’t know, along with those toothpicks also. like I said earlier in this discussion it’s there communication to the public, the World.

To me I think I appreciate something that has a more clear definition of skill, technique, talent, thought, and hard work put behind it. Because that’s how I like to create my art.

Granted some pieces I do are easier than others. It all depends on what I’m doing. But I can guarantee you that I’ve never cooked up macaroni and whipped it at a canvas and called it art. Now if a four-year-old did then I might be more impressed, and I might compliment him or her and encourage them. But somebody that went to Art School or apprenticed or what have you I guess I would tend to be a little more disappointed.

Be Polite

Kind of got off subject as far as being appreciative of obscure art, I also think it’s important if somebody’s actually showing you something that they believe in their heart is their creation, something they love, and they want to share that love with other people.

I believe it’s really important to be polite as well.

So in conclusion even if it’s so obscure that you can’t stand it, which is something that takes place in your heart, and your mind, so it’s always a good idea to keep a lot of opinions to yourself. You just don’t have to buy it, and it doesn’t hurt to give a compliment even if you don’t like it, they don’t have to know that.

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Bye for now
“Keep Creating To Make This World More Beautiful!”

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  1. Reply

    Doesn’t hurt to give a compliment, this is true. I do not lie, but no need to hurt someone’s feelings for no good reason. For example… “That is very interesting”… Yes, they make take it as a compliment, and that’s just fine… even if I didn’t mean it that way. lol Oh goodness, but I do also use that phrase for something I don’t quite understand, too. lol

    Yes, beauty IS in the eye of the beholder. I just may not behold everything. lol But now, that macaroni necklace my daughter made when she was a kid… a masterpiece!! It rivaled and surpassed every piece of fine jewelry I owned!! 🙂

    Nice work, Pete! 🙂

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