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What Is Process Art?

By A. Leverkuhn
Updated May 23, 2024
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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.

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.

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