The Fallacy of Intent
Botstein clarifies for us the difference between the work of a child who knows no creative boundaries (which are taught, not born) and the work of an adult who labors under the weight of his or her idea. "Most of what we think is art is the result of people thinking about doing something and being carried away by either some plan or some intuition or some imagination, so the child’s finger painting is probably distinguishable from Jackson Pollock by its structure, its composition, its intent, its design."
What the holy hell was all that? Look at any child's finger painting. There is no shortage of structure, composition or design. It's not recognizable as such to someone whose paradoxical definition of art is so wide that jumbo jets can fly through it with ease, and yet so narrow that it won't fit through the door of a kindergarten classroom.
Then there's "intent." Oh yes, the almighty emotion, motivation, and inspiration. Here we come to the weight of the artist's soul and what it means after it makes its way out of the body and mind and into the world. Bad news, Botstein fans. Intent is not good enough. There must be intention – and not all intentions are created equal. The new-to-me and freshly-felt angst of the teenager who picks up a pencil or paintbrush is not only common among teenagers, it is also common among those adults who stifled this adolescent developmental stage, let it fester (read: rot) and now we're all to take great joy in its later-in-life release. Ew.
Just as not all words are poetry or fit for the stage but rather belong in a therapeutic or even psychiatric setting, so too not all brushes with and of anger and sorrow belong in a museum. Hear me, Drama Queens of all ages: There is nothing new under the sun. Your inner turmoil shows up on paper as every bit as shallow as the depths to which you sought relief and/or expression. Art is not made in the kiddie pool. That someone else recognizes and is willing to pay for a reflection of a teaspoon's worth of epidermal layer doesn't make it art. It is nothing more than an adult's expression of an infant's stunted growth. Ideas of art come from the back of the brain, the bottom of the heart, and the middle of the spine. If it doesn't disintegrate when it comes into contact with oxygen, it's well on its way to becoming art.