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What Is Process Art?

Process Art emphasizes the journey of creation over the final product. It's an artistic movement where the method of making art takes center stage, inviting viewers to engage with the artist's explorative narrative. This approach often results in unique, unpredictable works that challenge traditional art norms. How might embracing process art change your perception of creativity? Join us to explore further.
A. Leverkuhn
A. Leverkuhn

Process art is a general term for a type of art where the process of creating is more important than the end product. Many different areas of the art world can include process art. This approach to art can be found in two-dimensional visual arts like painting or drawing, as well as more complex or obscure forms of art, such as performance art.

In some traditional forms of art, the philosophy of process art is often followed to demonstrate expositional methods to show the process fully. For example, in painting or photography, the end product is generally the focus of the viewer or art consumer. To make these forms of art into process art, the artist must provide extensive documentation of the process and display this along with the finished product to help viewers understand why the process is so important.

An artist may incorporate elements of process oriented art in the work of art when his or her artistic process is being viewed by an audience.
An artist may incorporate elements of process oriented art in the work of art when his or her artistic process is being viewed by an audience.

Some other forms of art are more accommodating to this idea. One of these is the general category of art installation. In an art installation, the artist takes a larger space and fills it with a complex set of objects, documents, videos, or other items. In installation art, it can be easier to display process art, because the artist can use the larger space to take viewers on a journey through his or her process.

Process oriented forms of art also often contribute to performance art. In performance art, there is a transience and an interactivity to the art process. Because the viewers or consumers are watching the artist over time, the artist can incorporate elements of process oriented art in his or her work. For example, a performance artist could create a painting or other artwork before an audience, where the process is fully viewed and fully understood. This is especially true in some forms of artisanal crafts and street painting, where one of the major elements of the artwork is the impressively displayed method of the artist.

In general, process oriented art incorporates a specific philosophy of technique. Where some other types of art focus only on the end result, process art is often created to illustrate the importance of content over style, or of function over form. Those inside the art world often ponder what process art means and why it is generated within a specific artistic community. In some cases, it helps to increase the value of a piece by demonstrating its complexity and the hard work that went into it.

Another good example of process art is the larger outdoor installations that are sometimes created by famous artists. When an artist commissions a work in a public space, the process for that work is often on display in local newspapers and other news media. Because it can be so difficult to arrange for artwork in a public space, the process automatically becomes important and interesting to the public.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is process art and how does it differ from other art forms?

Process art is an artistic movement where the end product is not the sole focus; instead, the process of creating the artwork takes center stage. This contrasts with traditional art forms that prioritize the final piece. Process art values the experience and actions of the artist, often resulting in works that are ephemeral, transient, or even left incomplete. It emphasizes the concepts of change, transience, and the artist's engagement with materials.

Can process art be considered a teaching methodology?

Yes, process art can be an effective teaching methodology, especially in early childhood education. It encourages exploration, creativity, and sensory learning, allowing children to express themselves freely without the pressure of creating a specific outcome. According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children, process art supports the development of fine motor skills, problem-solving abilities, and self-esteem in children.

What are some examples of techniques used in process art?

Techniques in process art vary widely but often include actions such as pouring, dripping, or layering materials in a way that showcases the act of creation. Artists might use unconventional tools or methods, like Jackson Pollock's famous drip paintings, where he manipulated the viscosity of paint and used gravity to shape the work. Other techniques involve the use of body movements, natural forces, or time-based changes to influence the artwork's evolution.

How has process art influenced contemporary art practices?

Process art has had a significant influence on contemporary art by challenging the traditional boundaries of art-making and expanding the definition of what art can be. It has paved the way for performance art, installation art, and land art, where the creation process, site-specificity, and temporal aspects are integral to the work. Contemporary artists continue to draw on process art's legacy to explore new materials and methods, often blurring the lines between different art forms.

Are there any notable artists associated with process art?

Several notable artists are associated with process art, including Jackson Pollock, whose drip paintings became synonymous with the movement. Other key figures include Robert Morris, whose felt pieces showcased gravity's role in shaping the artwork, and Richard Serra, known for his large-scale, site-specific sculptures that emphasize the physicality of the materials and the process of construction. These artists have contributed significantly to the dialogue around the importance of artistic process.

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    • An artist may incorporate elements of process oriented art in the work of art when his or her artistic process is being viewed by an audience.
      By: WavebreakMediaMicro
      An artist may incorporate elements of process oriented art in the work of art when his or her artistic process is being viewed by an audience.