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Directors: the Difference Between An Artist and "Craftsman"

greg x

about 3 years ago

It’s the difference between expression and construction I imagine.

odilonvert

about 3 years ago

How can you have expression without some kind of construction? Aren’t we just really talking about styles here?

El hombre huevo

about 3 years ago

What is the basic difference between these filmmakers that people are trying to get at, WITHOUT using either the term “craft” or “art?”

I wanna know that too. I don’t think there is one.

Robert W Peabody III

about 3 years ago

@ Odi
I think it is to rank things. I was actually contemplating a thread: Art Appreciation 101
It would have been a screed against ranking and ‘greatestness’.
I just don’t understand the impulse and where, once one has the top ten of everything, it goes from there.
That thread is always present though, it is called STOP THE LISTS.

I’ve told this story before.
I was sitting the gallery of my work and an elderly couple came in. They started at the first print and went to the end. Their chatter was descriptive, never judgmental or prescriptive.
I didn’t interrupt them, even right before they left, because I was entranced by their ability to articulate the experience of their perception.
That is what I want to be able to do – quickly (before the perception passes) articulate the feelings of that experience in a non-judgmental way.
Clement Greenberg was good at this: he could walk into a room and quickly have all kinds of insights into wok he had never seen before. Unfortunately, his ego got the better part of him.
And that is the second part: not to have an ego about it – not to use that ability, to rank stuff.

Ranking is somehow antithetical to perception.

El hombre huevo

about 3 years ago

Peabody is on a roll!!!

Rich Uncle Skeleton

about 3 years ago

But ranking is fun! >.< Also, if I rank something I’m not saying a film is definitively better than another film, I’m simply saying that at that point in time I prefer one film to another (so, it’s better from my perspective).

Oh, and all directors are artists. Whether someone is a good artist is a whole different question…

greg x

about 3 years ago

In movies, one of the key reasons that Hollywood dominates the global markets is because of the high level of craft involved in most of their productions. Much of that is simply due to having money to buy craftsmanship from all involved. Bollywood films, for one example, often suffer from having poor craftsmanship in comparison when it comes to many aspects of filmmaking which is why they often look ridiculous when it comes to trying to push into certain genres or expand their market. They’re primary concerns, craftwise, often those which don’t interest most of the rest of the world, that is in a particular genre of songwriting and dancing, so there isn’t much direct comparison in areas they do excel, but the lack of interest means they don’t benefit from that. Money can buy craftmanship, there are certain rules and practices which can exemplify good craftmanship, but money can’t but art and there aren’t the same sort of rules for what makes something art versus not art. Michael Bay is a fine craftman in that the films he makes exhibit a high level of tecchnical skill and organizing prowess, but he isn’t that high on most people’s ranking of artists even though he could probably do things with a camera and crew that many more noted artists couldn’t handle. On the other side, artists who aren’t particularly good craftmen, we would have to argue more since the boundaries of what makes a work of art aren’t as clear, but there certainly are directors who don’t seem to have a broad grasp of techniques or a wide range of skills but put what they do have to a more expressive and meaningful use, thus making them more “artistic” than someone like Bay.

This argument is like the style = substance or truth = beauty ones in that there may be a correlation in some areas, but the words mean different things and they clearly aren’t identical. One feeds into the other, but the other may not equally cause the former.

Robert W Peabody III

about 3 years ago

@ Cecil

and then….?

Jazzalo​ha

about 3 years ago

Yes, I think Greg and I are on the same wavelength with regard to this topic.^ When he talks about an artist that may lack technical skill, but “put what they do have to a more expressive and meaningful use,” the first director that came to mind was Melvin van Peebles (and his film Sweet Sweetback’s Baadassss Song). Or maybe John Waters.

One thing I want to reiterate is that the “artist”-“craftsman” is a generally a matter of degrees, not something either/or.

Also, I should also have mentioned that we must be aware of the semantic difficulties that would be likely in this discussion.

@Robert

I’d be interested in participating in that thread about ranking. I’m not so into ranking per se, but I am into identifying and understanding great works of art—also what identifying greatest from great or great from good. So we might have a stimulating back-and-forth in that thread. I’m there, if you start it! (He said with boyish enthusiasm. :)

greg x

about 3 years ago

Sorry, mixed up my buildings, those were condemned but later found to be safe, but there was another site with a similar sort of construction, a homemade group of buildings that were beautiful but later had to be torn down whose name I’m forgetting for the moment and my google-fu is failing me in looking them up.

Robert W Peabody III

about 3 years ago

@ Greg X

The second structuring was a Federal reserve bank?

Where both intended as art?

The Watts towers was the expression of an inner life that resulted in the structuring of space.
.

Robert W Peabody III

about 3 years ago

@ Jazz
I think it can be fleshed out here.
Pros:identifying and understanding great works of art
Cons: nothing seems to happen post-identifying
Conclusion: skip the search for the greatest from great or great from good
Concentrate instead on the ‘how’ vs the ‘about’ of each object.

greg x

about 3 years ago

I don’t know what the intention of the federal building was, I think it was in Rockford Illinois, but that hardly matters since intention doesn’t really effect the argument here if craft has a purpose outside of art which seems to be the point of the thread; that there are craftmen who can make something technically proficient and even hit all the right notes but still fail to create a work of art. It seemed to me that the argument was running purely in one direction when it needed to go in two different ones.

Looking at it from another way, if one goes to an independent coffeshop that has “art” hanging on the walls one can see where a failure of craft can ruin even the most heartfelt expression at times, so while craft can be a necessary component of art and art can be enhanced by craft the two things are not identical. They need to find some balance to work towards creating a greater whole. In some cases the crudeness or raw energy of an unpolished or “outsider” artist can bring something to the fore that a more trained artist may not be able to, just as a good craftman may provide more enjoyment to you than a “artist” whose works are understood to be examining some deeper meaning. Or, in the case of, say, someone like Haneke who is a fine craftman and is considered a serious artist, the works may simply seem unacceptable in what they are expressing so a preference can be reasonably argued for someone considered less of a craftman or artist. It’s all in the reception and the understanding of the work and in translating and comparing that understanding to those of others. The thing is just the thing it has no inherent value, it is what we agree upon that determines the larger context for it all. In the case of craft, there are often clear guidelines for what makes something successful, or if not clear guidelines a series of arguments related to factual matters that will determine it. In the case of art, the very lack of clear definition is what helps separate it from craft. It is arguable but ultimately unprovable on a factual basis since it depends so much on the way we interpret and see or feel something, which can’t be transmitted as easily as a set of guidelines.

Robert W Peabody III

about 3 years ago

We need to set a up a dichotomy that works, apples to apples.
I tend to think on the motvational side of the artist rather than the viewer side.
Some at Saturday Night Live posited that a bar check signed by Picasso was art, but was that his intent?
An architect is an artist, but does he create art in everything he does?

Intent not withstanding:

The Watts towers was the expression of an inner life that resulted in the structuring of space.
The Federal building was a structure that someone applied an aesthetic treatment to.

One is craft, one is art.

imo

greg x

about 3 years ago

Sure, that works for me, and is pretty much what I was getting at minus the focus on intent. Craft and art can be talked about separately and talking about artists and a craftsmen seems perfectly reasonable if one can give some good reasons for the division or why one believes a director may be one but not as gifted in the other area.

Robert W Peabody III

about 3 years ago

It is a matter of appreciation, the insights from which are worthwhile to know but not to get to the greatness thingy.
Mann comes to mind – if you can appreciate the craft, that knowledge a can be used elsewhere.

Brian Padian

about 3 years ago


craftsman bob


artist bob/s

greg x

about 3 years ago

Well, yes, understanding craft is often a big help to understanding larger issues as well, both to the viewer and the creator of a work. One shouldn’t, as is too often done nowadays, simply shunt craft aside and think expression is all, neither should one overly celebrate craft without acknowledging that craft alone doesn’t necessarily lead to something of merit. One can say awful things with very artfully and wonderful things crudely, but one can’t pretend that either craft or art on its own will lead to some specific result they each have their place and balance or imbalance in generating a response. Controlling that response, or knowing how to put craft to the work of art is what the most skilled artists do.

Robert W Peabody III

about 3 years ago

Yes, and for the viewer: take what you can from any film.

John Lennon:
the love you take/ Is equal to the love you make

So, the film you…uh, something something…

Victor Bruno

about 3 years ago

One of this days I wrote in my blog a text about the ateur theory. But it isn’t the point. I think that there is a difference between the director “craftsman” and the artist. The artist have an unique vision about the film, his own style, his holy opinion. The “craftsman guy” only direct the film and go away in the editing phase.

Brian Padian

about 3 years ago

speaking broadly,
network tv directors are craftsman, working in service of established brand/s

Jerry Johnson

about 3 years ago

The “craftsman guy” only direct the film and go away in the editing phase.

CUT!

Robert W Peabody III

about 3 years ago

He looks the nebbish, eh?

Jazzalo​ha

about 3 years ago

@Robert

Not sure what you mean by: “con: nothing seems to happen after post-identifying.” The identifying and understanding are valuable ends in and of themselves—at least for me.

Also, understanding “how” and “about” are part of the process, but I find distinguishing greatest from great, great from good to be worthwhile, too. Why? Well, experiencing the “greatest” works of art—and this is not necessarily the same as something I like—is really exciting for me. (Just as eating the “greatest” hamburger, biriyani, etc.)

Robert W Peabody III

about 3 years ago

Does experiencing the “greatest” biriyani lock you out of another potential & different biriyani experience in that your memory wants to dismiss the next biriyani experience?

Dunno Jazz…

Jazzalo​ha

about 3 years ago

@Robert

I don’t think it “locks me” out per se. I mean, it might “lock me” out of biriyani that I thought was decent in the past, which now doesn’t taste very good in relation. But it wouldn’t lock me out of biriyani that simply wasn’t the “best.” But isn’t this true about films? Once you start watching great films, films you previously thought were good may no longer be palatable, right?

DANDARA

about 3 years ago

I agree with ODILONVERT when she sees no real distinction between the two. Mostly beacause it is not up to the Filmmaker to stablish this difference about his own work. Cristics, audiences and, before all that, as HAL pointed out earlier, the production structure each Director is part of – all of these are more influential to attach definition tags to someone’s work, then the Director’s talent or will.

I usually admire more the art of a Director when he/she is great at his/hers craft. I find “artistic” Film expression too hermetic. I can hardly get into primarily experimental or allegoric pieces, such as some of David Lynch’s stuff, unless they prove to be great craftworks, such as David Lynch’s always is. I find art and beauty to walk toe to toe with simplicity, like in Chaplin’s childish mute pantomimes!

Jazzalo​ha

about 3 years ago

How about some alternative terms:

stylist-technician continuum
poet-storyteller continuum

These are problematic, too, though.

Post-Kyo

about 3 years ago

Sometimes it helps to use another medium as a reference point to make the distinction clearer.

If we use the poet-storyteller continuum who in literature (popular or highbrow) would be a poet, who would be a storyteller and who would be somewhere in between?

It may help us figure out whether that distinction in any art form is suspect or if it’s just cinema and filmmaking in particular that nullifies a separation between art and craft.

I hope that makes sense.

Robert W Peabody III

about 3 years ago

Once you start watching great films, films you previously thought were good may no longer be palatable, right?

Am I seeing more Jazz threads about discerning greatness vs the ‘how’ of specific films?

Dunno Jazz….