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Is Magic Art?

Last September, Paul Wilson and Jason England embarked on a three-week trip around the U.S. beginning in Houston, Texas. They met and interviewed magicians, collectors, inventors, pool hustlers, and other fascinating characters. They also managed to film the entire journey – well, most of it.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be releasing short videos of some of the most interesting moments from their trip. The first video, Is Magic an Art? addresses an issue that frequently comes up in conversation whenever magicians gather. It isn’t a perfect question and it wasn’t meant to be. It was meant to be a conversation starter and in that it succeeded admirably. The video provides you with the opportunity to listen to some of the best minds in magic as they discuss the nature of art, the differences between art and craft, and where magic fits into the art picture – if indeed it does at all. You’ll hear from John Bannon, Dani Da Ortiz, Christian Engblom, Brad Henderson, Richard Kaufman, Chad Long, Eric Mead, Lance Pierce, Gary Plants, Johnny Thompson, Michael Weber, and Asi Wind.

Magicians only: Join in on The Unreal Sessions and learn original magic tricks from todays leading magical thinkers.

11 Responses to Is Magic Art?

  1. Hello everyone my name is David Lovern i just want to say something on this subject. Yes of course magic is art ( sometimes). If your learning every trick from another magicians work I do not. I believe that art is something you put your self into. I believe that magic creators are artests, you are creating apart of you. Most people think of art as a picture and some find beauty in something others cant see. As a magician your job is to leave your audience with an image or picture. I believe that if a creator invents something that leaves you with an image in your mind then that moment is captured.(much like a picture). If you are one who can see that beauty in magic, like others may see in a painting. Then you dont really have to question if magic is art, you see someones heart and soul put into it. ( for example watch Lance Burtons FISM act if you dont see art than maybe you dont have the ability)

  2. I have to say, of all the discussion the “is magic an art?” questions is generating, I find it interesting that no one is asking anyone who is an artist. That is, no one is asking the people that no one debates are artist; painters, writers, poets, musicians, sculptures, actors, movie directors, etc. They have been asking the “what is art?” question for a very long time and some of them have really good answers. Some would say that of course it is, it’s in the dramatic arts, theater and what not. I like the term “surrealist theater”. Others would say that anything that contains even the smallest iota of personalization is art, even if most of the heavy lifting was done by someone else (like covering a song, or performing someone else magic more/less). Very few actors only perform material that they write, choreograph, and develop from scratch. Some would say that there is no art, only artists.

    There is a lot of interesting ideas to float around in this discussion about art, but it is not a discussion that can be had in the fish bowl that is our magic community. Magic is unique among the arts, but it is not so unique that we cannot commune with other artists about our work. Maybe not the technique and methods (we must have our secrets), but the intent, the effect (on the audience), the desired out come are all things we can talk about with other artists.

    Lastly, the questions of “is magic an art?” to me falls into the same category as “what is the meaning of life?” It’s sounds very profound but is ultimately not all that useful or even interesting. A far more interesting question is “what is the meaning of MY life?”, and I think that “is MY magic art?” to be a far more useful question to answer.

    Just my thoughts. I’ll leave now.

  3. I think it’s all about creating something that is uniquely yours. Once you create using your own way of thinking, your own approach, your own ideas you become an artist.

  4. Is a deck of cards art? No more so than a paint brush. Placed into the hands of the right person, art is created. Watch Rene Levand if you need further convincing.

  5. According to Merriam-Webster… Art is:

    -skill acquired by experience, study, or observation
    -a branch of learning
    -an occupation requiring knowledge or skill
    -the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects
    -the quality or state of being artful
    -decorative or illustrative elements in printed matter

    Synonyms include: craft, handcraft, handicraft, trade.

    Synonym discussion of ART:

    Art, skill, cunning, artifice, craft mean the faculty of executing well what one has devised. Art implies a personal, unanalyzable creative power . Skill stresses technical knowledge and proficiency . Cunning suggests ingenuity and subtlety in devising, inventing, or executing . Artifice suggests technical skill especially in imitating things in nature . Craft may imply expertness in workmanship .

  6. How about the reverse? Is art magic? According to Picasso, it is…

    “Art is a form of magic designed as a mediator between this strange hostile world and us”. -Picasso

  7. ‘Our Magic’ By Maskelyne and Devant contains a great commentary on the art of magic. It splits art into three criteria;

    High Art- That which is created anew

    Normal Art- That which is borrowed and inspired but altered by the artist


    Low Art- When an ‘artist’ recreates high art or normal art in the exact way it was produced previously. This is hardly art, as it induces no creativity.

    High Art and Normal Art are both important to magic.

    This site is rich with it. I love it.

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