Long time lurker, first time poster. I've been a skating fan since fourth grade, but to this day I still don't understand why some people insist on labeling their favorite skaters "artistic." In great skates, I see a superb rendition of an artistic program, a product of excellent tutelage, an exceptional performer and a mastermind choreographer, but rarely a skater who himself is artistic. For me, art is an act of creation, not something that is taught and reproduced - which is why I believe that almost every skater no matter how breathtaking or tear-wrenching, is a performer, not an artist, since the skater is simply repeating memorized and rehearsed choreography, the brainchild of an actual artist. The great skater may render a skate magical now and then by adding special ingredients such as the "it" factor/charisma, exuberance, pure emotion, but I still consider those elements of a good performance (all part of recreating the original artwork, each performance a reincarnation of the original piece of art). The way I see it, the skater's simply adding spice to an already cooked meal. One may argue that the skater is an artist in that he brings to life the envisioned world of the choreographer, much like commissioned artists brought to life the dreamed worlds of their patrons, but by my definition of art, that person is a skilled painter, not an artist (analogous to performer vs. artist) because that world is not his own. I believe that an artist must give birth to his own original work. One could argue that every skater will skate to the same performance differently, each leaving his own artistic calling card, but again I don't believe skaters push the predetermined boundaries of the choreographer insofar as to create originality.
Of course, I'm not here to force my opinion of what "art" is on everyone. I just wanted to first share my opinion of "art" and "artistry" before hearing what other posters have to say. I've always wondered why some skating fans thought certain skaters were artistic and others not. I'd be very grateful if posters could provide actual examples of skates and skaters who fall into their definitions of artistic - just to elucidate
Stephane Lambiel is perhaps the most obvious example of an artistic skater, but I haven't reached this conclusion by watching his choreographed competitive programs. I see his artistry in his improvisation (esp. in his gorgeous gala programs) and in his self-choreographed performances. But what about skaters who simply skate to choreographed programs? Why do you think some of them should be considered "artistic" while others not?
Something interesting I picked up while reading those nasty Yu-na vs. Mao vs. Carolina threads is that some people believe that artistry is synonymous with "comprehension". I feel uneasy about bringing these three skaters up (b/c of the possible bot fight that may ensue), but some poster claimed that Yu-na was not artistic, while Mao and Carolina were because these two understood their programs, from the subtle nuances to the overarching theme, and brought their pieces together, like a masterful storyteller... but I don't know, still seems as though all three were giving me what David and Lori produced, and performance-wise, I thought Yu-na was heads and shoulders above the other two because I tack on seamless technical perfection and charismatic delivery to the criteria of superb performance list as well. I thought this appraisal was extremely confusing, to boot.. How can you tell the difference between Carolina fully understanding the meaning of brushing her left hand against her cheek and Carolina doing it because Lori told her to do so, as sadly as possible? Not trying to defend Yu-na and bash Mao + Carolina, but this kind of opinion popped up quite frequently and I was really lost because I see all three as great performers, sometimes gaining the edge over each other, but not as artists, at least by my definition.