The Technium

Art Is What You Get Away With

Art is never finished, only abandoned.

Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better.

Art is a revolt against fate.

Art is a step from what is obvious and well-known toward what is arcane and concealed.

Art is a game.

Art is either plagiarism or revolution.

Art is magic delivered from the lie of being truth.

Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.

Art is the stored honey of the human soul, gathered on wings of misery and travail.

Art is not a thing; it is a way.

So say some famous artists. I’d like to add a few:

Art is the improbable becoming inevitable.

Art is anything useless.

Art is what remains when reality is removed.

Art is an illusion that requires at least two minds to exist.

But my favorite definition of art comes from Andy Warhol:

Art is whatever you can get away with.


My son Tywen and I made a toy wreath. First we cut a torus from a piece of scrap plywood. Then we hot glued on to it several bags of plastic toys from the dollar store. It was fun building up patterns. Time flowed quickly. It made us giggle at times. The thing is completely useless. But it evoked something vague when we hung it outside my studio door. It’s pleasing in a strange way. Looks like art to me.

  • Art surprises us with craft we thought we understood.

  • Felipevenancio

    Art should never be judged. Only appreciated.

  • I like Brian Eno, and I like your quote, but Andy Warhol is the one who said “Art is anything you can get away with.” –

    • Kevin_Kelly

      Ah, noted and corrected.

      • Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder…my grandchildren would LOVE this wreath…making it would bring joy in the doing, the beholding,and the memories!

  • Glenn Sogge

    Art is what artists do.

  • Molly Thompson

    The words about art are really nice — anything creative thing you do with your kids is awesome and of course it’s art. You saw the lady creating murals and pictures from dryer lint?

  • Sarah L.

    What kind of glue did you use? I might want to try this! I like art like this…totally useless, but pleasing to look at.

    • Kevin_Kelly

      Hot glue, stick variety.

  • Timaree (an artist)

    It depends on your definition of useless. As a means to a wonderful interaction with your child it’s value is way beyond dollar store toys. Intangibles are often seen as useless but they are the only things really worth anything at all because they touch the soul in some way rather than our ego.

  • That’s just great, Tywen.

  • This is stellar (the story as well as the thing).
    …and it’s not useless! I can see it being excellent decor for a nursery or playschool or a baby shower.

    Good job spending studio time with your little one.

    • Kevin_Kelly

      Not so little. He was 13 and taller than me.

  • bohemianstyle

    I like to think that artistic expression is successful when it causes the viewer to have a thought or an emotion – whether positive or negative, it makes you feel something. If I look at art and am indifferent about it, then it has not succeeded.

  • telecocoa

    Almost a century before Dawkins’s meme, Tolstoy wrote a fascinating book on the subject: His thought was that “art must create a specific emotional link between artist and audience, one that “infects” the viewer. “

  • telecocoa
  • Art is the disassociation of time from money

  • Fred

    Art is the demonstration of skill.

  • Sacrapixie85

    I love it, and I believe I will start hanging onto my sons’ toys to make one of these in the future.  It’s very summer-y as well with the bright beautiful colors!  Well done.

  • Pysselbolaget

    What a fantastic idea! We made a toylamp out of my kids toys but there are plenty of toys left. Must try!