First off, I apologize, if this is the wrong subforum, but it seemed a little to serious and philosophical for GD. If it's wrong, please move it.
Now, on the topic: we recently had exactly this discussion in a class at school, and even though I thought that I had a pretty good picture of what art is, I had to, at the end of the lesson, concede that I can't actually formulate a definition for what art is and what isn't. For most things that I see, I have an intuitive opinion on whether they are art or not, but I have as of yet to find a definition that actually encompasses that, and it seems arbitrary in most cases.
Some of the most often-echoed points are that
- art is what is what the artist intends to be art,
- art is something of a certain quality, for which one needs specific skills to be able to create it, or
- art is what the viewer deems to be art.
However, none of these three viewpoints are what I believe to be sufficient. If I took a pencil, broke it and said that it was art, would that be art? By the first definition, it would, and yet I would say that I would be hard-pressed to find people actually considering it art.
It doesn't necessitate any skills, one might argue - but then again, Picasso's Bull's Head1
, created from a bicycle seat and its handlebars, is something that most people would doubtlessly call art, and yet it doesn't really necessitate any specific skills.
The third criterion is also problematic, because every viewer perceives something different as art. Do we let the majority decide on whether something is art or not? Does everyone decided it for himself, without there even being an objective definition of the word "art"?
I'm leaning towards that last point of view at the moment, but I was interested in your thoughts on the subject. Is art something totally subjective, or are there objective criteria, and if yes, then what are they?1
The Bull's Head is depicted below.