What's the difference between Art and Entertainment?

I’ve been interested in this question for a long time.


Some interesting answers here. And possibly my favourite one that I’ve ever heard is this one -

‘I think the difference is in the mind of the person creating it. If you care what the audience thinks, then it’s entertainment. If you don’t care what the audience thinks, it’s art.’

You can get SHIT art, and you can get GREAT entertainment. But I think this sums up the difference.

Art is expression and pure honest communication without giving a fuck about the audience’s response.

Entertainment can lie, but art can’t. There’s your difference.

I don’t think there’s necessarily a sharp line between them, and also probably lots of boobytraps trying to classify them, but instinctively I’d say art wishes to express something, and does so in a more intellectual way than when entertainment tries the same.

I loosely use it even in piano playing. Most of the golden agers for instance fall more in the entertainment category of piano playing than the seriously artistic drawer (not all, but Friedman, Hofmann, etc). Another reason to admire Horowitz, since I think he struck a perfect balance between the two.

I think this is a pretty facile answer, and incorrect. Artists clearly care what the audience thinks, otherwise there would be no need to even have an audience. As da X said, they are not mutually exclusive and there is thus no clear-cut distinction between the two. It is to a large degree a subjective distinction to be made in the minds of each individual, in the presence of each creation. Thus it is less about the artist/entertainer and more about those appreciating it.

Well, nearly.

“then your goal is entertainment” and
“then your goal is art”.

The great thing is that just because the creator wants it to be entertaining doesn’t mean it will be, and conversely it might end up being art as well as entertainment. Similarly if the creator intends it to be art.

Somewhat snobby of me, but I’d also alter the basic premise to “if it’s being created for the masses then entertainment is the intent; if it’s being created for the creator’s approximate peer group art is the intent”, and retain my above caveat.

It takes a very special person, or happy accident, to satisfy both criteria in an accessible manner.

Art tries to make the observer think, whilst entertainment seeks to divert?

Kind of, except for me it’s more about what it actually does, rather than what it seeks to do.

Fair enough, that’s kind of a beauty is in the eye of the beholder statement. I’m not sure I’m comfortable with using myself as the definer of “is x art” - I have no interest and little response to much Bach, for example, but I accept unhesitatingly that it IS art. Semantics perhaps.

I don’t think it necessarily has to interest you for it to be art. We had a similar debate last year about whether pianists could be ranked objectively. I still maintain that they can’t, at least not amongst artists at the highest level. The distinction between art and entertainment is similarly difficult to tease out in my opinion.

Tbh I think whether it interests you or not is actually of no relevance at all vis-a-vis it being art. I completely agree with you re objective ranking of pianists at the highest level; that’s essentially arguing about what is the nicest shade of blue. The distinction between art and entertainment is less nebulous though, imo at least.

FWIW, I’ve never been able to come up with a distinction which I find truly satisfying, not that I’m staying up at night thinking about it.

Entahtainment ztroketh da ego of da audience

Art ztroketh da ego of da creatah


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A pithy distinction would constitute both art and entertainment :wink:

How do you determine which pianists are at the highest level then? :wink:

Beyond technical skill I don’t think you can.

Start by determining which ones are not :smiling_imp:

Without any objective measure ever being available I’m sure we can eliminate da BZ :laughing:

Back in 30 mins…

Sigh :wink:

Welllll…hang on. Actually that answer rang true in my mind maybe because I extrapolated something extra from it.

What I got from it is that entertainment seeks to modify itself based upon the reactions of the audience.

I think that artists obviously care what audiences think and hope their work is admired, appreciated, understood, and generally received well.

But it is not modified - at the moment of creation - to do so. At the moment of it’s creation it’s primary impetus is pure expression.

This post I’m making now for example, is not art nor entertaining :whale: because I am making an effort for my expression to be concrete and by doing so - it’s as concerned about being received as it is about being transmitted.

In a sense I think art at it’s conception doesn’t care about being received, it’s pure transmission.

It’s like a radio station playing as if they’re in a world without radios. Except we have radios, and are listening in to their unabashed genuine honest expression.

Re the true greatness debate, I would say that when you’re arguing about the tangible, that’s a debate which isn’t artistically or intellectually worth having.

I don’t understand what you mean here. How can something be transmitted without being received?

Just as you can say something even though nobody hears.

I agree with comme. Some art just exists - of itself - irrespective of whether the world cares or even observes it.

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