Art can affect its spectators in many ways, so it is not surprising to see different reactions to the same piece of work. But if we are to define what true art is, it is something which the artist creates for his own satisfaction, without thinking about what the world would say about it. At the same time, true art is something that should be able to connect the spectator with the overall vision of the artist, even though the interpretation might not be spot on. No wonder, Don Ellis once said, “To be a true artist you have to play the way you feel - not the way others think you should feel”.
To further illustrate the point above, true art should be able to elicit emotions and thoughts from spectators. They should be able to see the hidden symbolism of the work because even though the artist should create for himself, his creation should be able to inspire people in order to qualify as true art. At times the subject of many paintings might not be pretty at all, but true art is something which would not only portray the problem, but also provide the solution to it. The spectator should go back empowered and enlightened about what he saw. It holds true for any form of art, be it painting, music, or performing arts – it should be able to inspire personal transformation.
It is now being seen that anything that is a departure from the norm or offers shock value is interpreted as true art. Some of these might actually fall in this category, but anything that tries to be path breaking for its own sake or to benefit the artist cannot be called true art. It is not contributing anything to art as a whole, but is merely being used for personal gains. This form of art is more like a flash in the pan, which soon disappears into oblivion. Meanwhile, true art manages to retain its appeal and freshness even ages after its creation. Take for instance the masterpieces created by Michelangelo or the works of Shakespeare. They continue to charm their viewers and will do so till they cease to exist.
Besides the characteristics listed above, true art should be able to strike the right balance between all the nuanced characteristics of its time. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so reactions to a particular piece may vary, but true art always has a story to tell. This is irrespective of whichever way it is interpreted, but true art should be able to inspire its viewers to look for the meaning behind it.As you would have realized by now, it is difficult to have an exact definition for true art since it is so subjective in nature. However, a work of art cannot be called true art until the artist listens to what his heart says and is able to express his innermost emotion perfectly through his creation.