Single noun meaning "having quality of artistic value/merit"

English Language & Usage Asked on January 3, 2022

Best word I could come up was “provocativeness”, but I don’t exactly like it. I don’t think art has to be provocative. Well, the best art is probably provocative, but i.e. picture on a book cover whilst most often not provocative, still has more “artistic value” than some graffiti (which actually might be much more provoking) or a wall painted during renovation.

One word that sounded more pleasant is “artistry”, but that seems to be a “quality of creator” rather than “quality of work of art”.

Tags seem to ask me for a sample sentence, so here’s one or two:

My sister calls herself an artist, but * of her creations is rather poor.

In general, cinematography has higher level of * than video games.

2 Answers

One of the latent assumptions here is that artistic merit can be observed and compared. It sounds like a version of high art and low art, the former being for the upper crust or intellectual enjoyment and the latter being for the masses or for visceral response.

Aesthetics (noun) or aesthetic (noun or adjective) are often used to refer to the quality of appearance. I'll reproduce the Merriam-Webster entry for the noun version:

1 aesthetics also esthetics es-​ˈthe-​tiks , is-​ , British usually ēs-​ plural in form but singular or plural in construction : a branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of beauty, art, and taste and with the creation and appreciation of beauty

2 : a particular theory or conception of beauty or art : a particular taste for or approach to what is pleasing to the senses and especially sight

modernist aesthetics

staging new ballets which reflected the aesthetic of the new nation— Mary Clarke & Clement Crisp

3 aesthetics also esthetics plural : a pleasing appearance or effect : beauty

appreciated the aesthetics of the gemstones

Definition 2 shows aesthetic used to classify specific works, as if each work has a type or kind of aesthetic. Meanwhile, definition 3 shows aesthetics to be used to evaluate the quality of appearance, whether it's the cut of a gemstone or the visual elements of a painting.

Answered by TaliesinMerlin on January 3, 2022

I'd suggest expressiveness, possibly with "artistic" if you need to emphasize that:

My sister calls herself an artist, but the (artistic) expressiveness of her creations is rather poor.

Answered by L. Scott Johnson on January 3, 2022

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