What is art? A question that has pondered philosophers throughout the ages. Yet it’s still a question that doesn’t have an answer. The Oxford dictionary will tell you that art is “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.”
Now that’s quite specific… But what does it actually mean? Surely beauty and emotional power are totally subjective? This would surely mean that anything can be art, even cars.
When considering whether cars can be art or not there is a very split camp. I hark back to a particular episode on top gear when famed presenter, Jeremy Clarkson, met an art critic from the Tate gallery who said that “a car can never be art, because for something to be art it can have no purpose other than itself.” He said this whilst reviewing the Alfa Romeo 8C, arguably one of the most beautiful cars ever made (biased, I know). He stated that the Alfa in question didn’t drive very well, it wasn’t built with care and it was hopelessly impractical and therefore could be considered as 14 feet of art. But this got me thinking, if Jeremy Clarkson can prove that definition wrong, could I prove Oxford’s definition fits to cars too?
So I’ll take a car as an example, and not just any car, the car I believe to be the most beautiful car ever made, the Aston Martin DB10. The brain child of Marek Reichman (Chief Creative Officer at Aston Martin) and Sam Mendes (Director of Spectre), the DB10 was created specifically for the 24th Bond Film. But proving its art will be difficult, so let’s split up the definition.
Let’s start with “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination”. Marek believed that design was integral to the human race and that’s evident in some of his previous works which include the Aston Martin One-77, the Rapide, the DBS and the iconic Rolls-Royce Phantom. The DB10 however was created purely for the film, also to celebrate the 50th anniversary since the DB5 first appeared on screen with Sean Connery behind the wheel. Only 10 were ever made, each one hand built at their factory in Warwickshire, based on a brand new design. I think personally that certainly fulfils human skill and imagination.
The DB10 is of course very visual being inspired by sharks at every corner (especially the nose), so that fits the middle of the definition. Now on to the latter third of the definition, “producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.” There’s no denying that the DB10 is beautiful to look at and I don’t know about emotional power, but being powered by Aston Martins V8 producing 430 horsepower, it’s certainly got something going for it.
So back to the original question, what is art? Well unfortunately I still wouldn’t want to answer that question, but what I can tell you… The DB10 certainly is!
“The DB5 is pure, it’s simple, it has a grille to die for. It’s a scalpel not a kitchen knife. That’s what Sam wanted, for this to be Bond’s simple, pure Aston Martin, just like the original DB5 was.”