Short answer: no.
Okay I have a lot of feelings about art right now so long answer under the cut.
I am not a very good artist but I hang out in a lot of pretentious-as-fuck studio art classes, where the emphasis is on conceptual art and arguing about whether fucking Train Greg (long story) is valid in wanting to sell people a coke can on a stick as an installed sculpture experience.
So “art standards” is something that I think about. And audience, and the function of art in society. And the simple fact is that art standards are weird and arbitrary and change depending on what the art is trying to do. Protest art is usually not doing the same thing as illustrative art! Design is not installation!
And fanart is not gallery art; it’s simply not speaking the same obnoxious language or directed at the same people. Sometimes gallery art uses characters and images from popular culture, but it uses them in the language of gallery art and therefore is not considered fanart. Sometimes fanart is made to challenge and subvert and hardly looks like the cultural object that it responds to, but it is presented to a fandom audience and therefore the response is not a gallery critic’s response.
So a successful piece of fanart is not a successful gallery piece, and a successful gallery piece is not a successful fanart piece, because I would argue that they have vastly different goals.
The goal of gallery art is to tightly expand on a visual thesis.
The goal of fanart is to celebrate, explore, criticize and share a piece of media.
The goal of protest art is to inform people or to piss them off or both.
The goal of advertising design is to sell things.
The goal of craft is to make awesome useful objects that can be appreciated by your mother.
These goals are probably not all-encompassing, but the gist is that they are super different, and that fanart isn’t the only sphere of art that doesn’t overlap comfortably with the ideals of gallery art.
These are all arguably art! All art doesn’t have the same goals, although some goals probably overlap: to make beauty, for instance.
So, in conclusion, it is pretty shitty to judge fanart on the same rubric as gallery art, because a lot of really awesome fanart fails miserably on that rubric, just like gallery art fails miserably on the fandom rubric. Jasper Johns never made nobody ship Destiel.
If you want to fuck with boundaries and make art that chases the goals of both at the same time, more power to you, you are a boss. If you don’t want that, that is okay too. If a start-up gallery artist gets condescending at a fanartist for not joining their stupid club, ask them when the last time 9,000 people looked at their work and watch them deflate like a month-old balloon.
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