Does Art Require an Audience?

Is art really art without an audience?

If I were to create art only for myself would it have the same effect?

Why do I do art in the first place?

Whenever I am working on a piece of art whether commissioned, inspired or self-motivated, I am thinking; “what will so and so think of this? will they like it?  will they get it? will it make them think?

I have never created anything that I didn’t want to have an audience at the end of it, people to appreciate it, to understand it and to want to see more. Is this part of what being an artist is?

Let’s imagine  (God forbid!) that I was stuck in a prison cell, with no doors or windows, just a hatch at the top of the cell, whereby a guard would drop my food down but never see me or interact with me. In this dark cell, bringing in a small light from the hatch in the ceiling, I have learned to create art with the materials around me, mud, straw and so on. I create a masterpiece on my cell wall, knowing fully well no one would ever see it, as I was to spend the rest of my life in that cell and be buried there, with my art. Would that be as satisfying as creating a piece of work knowing it was going to get an audience? I can admit, sadly, that no it’s not enough. I create for others to enjoy.  Am I the only one like this?

I looked into it a little and found this site called The question is asked ‘Does Art require an audience?’  It’s worth going to this site if you haven’t done so already and read the entire article but the sentence I like the most reads this;

For Duke and Battersby, the answer is “Yes… art is a relationship between a maker and a viewer,” and they see art as just one kind of labor that makes up culture, not to be privileged over other such forms (civil engineering, presidency, etc.). Talking to these two was an affirmation of my thinking about the artist-audience dynamic. They expressed a sense of accountability to this process of culture-making, but also cautioned strongly against allowing considerations of audience to enter into practice too much. 

Most professions probably want an audience of some kind, to be appreciated, to be enjoyed, valued, discussed, even honoured but we can’t let these needs affect what we produce and how well we do our job.

I also went to this site called and he is basically asking the same questions I am.

This site believes art is art without an audience; The author,  Britts Reque Dragicevic writes the following;

“The Work Has Purpose Even Without An Audience
Before we dive in, it’s important to remember that work does not need an audience to matter. As artists, we focus most of our energy in creating the work, giving it everything necessary to survive without us. This is our highest calling, to receive the work, to bring it forth, to nurture it and allow it to emerge through us. The work has meaning simply because it exists. It doesn’t need an audience to have purpose or a place in this world. All those drafts written and put aside in drawers? They matter. They count. Unseen work matters because it exists. (Not to be confused with unfinished work – which may or may not have found its purpose.)”

Another good argument and viewpoint of which there are many.

I know in myself, if I create a piece of art and do not share it, it’s lost some of its value as it’s message hasn’t been heard, only by me, but then maybe that particular piece could just be for me.  I shall set myself a challenge and create a piece of artwork knowing I will be the only person to ever see it, it feels strange suggesting such a thing and I was going to say I’ll let you know how I get on, but then you would be my audience! 🙂 Try it for yourself.


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