Is magic art? This is probably too big a question to answer in blog of a few hundred words but I think I can at least make a start and explore some interesting ideas.
It’s probably a good idea to start by defining art and this in itself could be the subject of a huge dissertation of many thousands of words. I think most people would agree though that art is the application of creativity to produce something that is appreciated for its beauty or emotional power. This is the definition I’ll use for the purpose of this blog.
Let’s start with the first part of that definition: the application of creativity. There are quite a few incredibly creative magicians out there producing new and inventive ideas. However, the majority of magicians will mostly use other people’s tricks and methods then adapt them to suit their own style or to fit in with their show. There is a certain amount of creativity to this but I don’t think you can draw a moustache on the Mona Lisa then call yourself an artist.
Moving on to the question of whether magic is something that is appreciated for its beauty. I think most people will have seen beautiful magic, whether that’s smooth manipulations, incredible appearances or stunning illusions, magic can certainly look great! However, I think most of magic doesn’t fall into this category. Most tricks are more about the effect than how it looks and that’s probably a good thing, I’d rather have substance over style any day!
The final part of the definition is probably magic’s greatest claim to be an art form as there is no doubt magic has emotional power. It is up there with music, acting and writing when it comes to making people feel, in fact magic often combines music, acting and writing then adds the unexpected and explainable to create a perfect storm of emotional impact. Even the smallest trick, when performed well, can create real wonder for the spectator.
So, is magic art? Well art requires an artist so I would say it depends on the magician. Magic CAN be art but only if it is performed by someone who has created their own unique act, who performs it beautifully and makes their audience really feel. The combination of all these elements is very rare. I also think intention is important. An artist intends to create a piece of art, they intend to express themselves creatively.
So, am I an artist?….. No. It would be pretty arrogant of me to say that I am! However, I am something that some people would argue is better… an entertainer! I do employ artistry in my work: some of what I do is completely unique to me, some of what I do can be described as beautiful and, to paraphrase Frank Turner in Balthazar Impressario, I always make them laugh, I try to make them cry; my work even has a message most of the time! But the end result is a piece of entertainment. Other people’s ideas and methods are thrown into the mix even if they are changed to fit my performance persona, and my intention is just to make people forget about their troubles for a little while and enjoy themselves.
Do you agree with my musings? Can you think of any magicians that you would call artists? Do you think magicians should even try to be artists? Let me know in the comments. As always please feel free to like and share, and remember: life is like a box of chocolates… a cheap, perfunctory gift that no one actually asks for!