There’s no question that art is subjective. After all, just because something is called art doesn’t necessarily mean it has artistic value to all people. In the case of sculptural, well-designed lighting, the lines between what is art and what isn’t can seem blurred further.
So, what is it about certain lighting designs that can make them potentially qualify as art?
A Light Unlit
Apart from its functionality, lighting that doubles as an art piece looks amazing whether it’s on or off. The beauty of the form and design is obvious. The final form may even be unique and impressive enough to make you pause and consider the deeper meaning behind it. In fact, in cases when the light isn’t on, it may surprise people to learn that it’s also a lighting fixture, and not just an art installation.
Aglow with Beauty
The added benefit of having lighting as art is that it actually has a utilitarian use; it lights up a room. But beyond its ability to brighten a space, there’s another benefit.
In an art gallery or museum, lighting is carefully positioned to literally display art in the best light. In the case of an artistically crafted pendant or lamp, that lighting is already built into the piece. There’s no need to second-guess how to best show the craftsmanship because the maker already did it for you. Such illumination is strategically placed to call attention to the design’s focal points. Whether it’s the rich finish, sparkle created by crystals or the play of light and shadows, something intriguing occurs.
The Light Element as Design Element
This leads to the fact that the lighting effects created by a fixture can have an artistic effect beyond the piece’s literal form. Advancements in LED technology and light guides have allowed designers to incorporate some pretty unique lighting elements into designs. So, while beautiful in any case, the fixture reaches its full artistic potential when it’s turned on.
Design Styles and Artistic Influences
There have been numerous art movements over history. Some have very distinct aesthetics–Baroque, Impressionism and Cubism, for example–and lighting designers well-versed in art history like to pay tribute to their favorite styles or artists; you can see such influences in the final designs.
In conjunction with more specific artistic movements, general design styles can also span eras and continents. It’s possible to find artistic lighting designs that will work in settings traditional to transitional and everything in-between. While contemporary style by its nature changes with the times, you’ll also currently find a good number of contemporary lighting designs that double as art.
The Opinion that Matters
Getting back to the basics: art is subjective. What one person considers art may not seem museum-worthy for another. Just as some flock to modern art exhibits while others avoid them, every style has its devotees and detractors. That’s the beauty of art–it’s independently democratic. It’s in the eye of the beholder. If it’s art in your view, that makes it so.
With a history spanning more than four decades, Hubbardton Forge has built a reputation in the lighting industry and among designers and consumers for high quality and handcrafted artistry. With a team driven by design, the newest designs being created – from idea to finished fixture – are winning awards and accolades, but more importantly, they’re finding a place in the finely designed spaces of our customers. Best of all? All the magic happens under one roof in the Green Mountains of Vermont.