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In the vulgarity thread there was an interesting discussion going on about what art is and what counts as such. I'm posting several definitions of art, feel free to accept one of them or post your own.
The main recent sense of the word “art” is roughly as an abbreviation for creative art or “fine art.” Here we mean that skill is being used to express the artist’s creativity, or to engage the audience’s aesthetic sensibilities, or to draw the audience towards consideration of the “finer” things. Often, if the skill is being used in a lowbrow or practical way, people will consider it a craft instead of art, a suggestion which is highly disputed by many Contemporary Craft thinkers. Likewise, if the skill is being used in a commercial or industrial way it may be considered design instead of art, or contrariwise these may be defended as art forms, perhaps called applied art. Some thinkers, for instance, have argued that the difference between fine art and applied art has more to do with value judgments made about the art than any clear definitional difference.
Perhaps (as in Kennick's theory) no definition of art is possible anymore. Perhaps art should be thought of as a cluster of related concepts in a Wittgensteinian fashion (as in Weitz or Beuys). Another approach is to say that “art” is basically a sociological category, that whatever art schools and museums and artists get away with is considered art regardless of formal definitions. This "institutional definition of art" (see also Institutional Critique) has been championed by George Dickie. Most people did not consider the depiction of a Brillo Box or a store-bought urinal to be art until Andy Warhol and Marcel Duchamp (respectively) placed them in the context of art (i.e., the art gallery), which then provided the association of these objects with the values that define art.
Proceduralists often suggest that it is the process by which a work of art is created or viewed that makes it art, not any inherent feature of an object, or how well received it is by the institutions of the art world after its introduction to society at large. Whereas if exactly the same set of words was written by a journalist, intending them as shorthand notes to help him write a longer article later, these would not be a poem. Leo Tolstoy, on the other hand, claims that what makes something art or not is how it is experienced by its audience, not by the intention of its creator. Functionalists like Monroe Beardsley argue that whether or not a piece counts as art depends on what function it plays in a particular context; the same Greek vase may play a non-artistic function in one context (carrying wine), and an artistic function in another context (helping us to appreciate the beauty of the human figure). '
1: skill acquired by experience, study, or observation <the art of making friends>
2 a: a branch of learning: (1): one of the humanities (2)plural : liberal arts barchaic : learning, scholarship
3: an occupation requiring knowledge or skill <the art of organ building> 4 a: the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects; also : works so produced b (1): fine arts (2): one of the fine arts (3): a graphic art
5 aarchaic : a skillful plan
b: the quality or state of being artful6: decorative or illustrative elements in printed matter
My guess is we won't be able to agree in this thread, so let's have them opinions going.
Personally I'm in the camp that most inventions and utilities are not art because I believe that art requires an intent to stimulate human senses, which lacks in almost all appliances. I'm not against the possibility of some industrial creations being art, but against the absolution that everything created by humans is.
Is your coffeemaker art D&D? What about your keyboard?
Does art encompasses all products of human activity?
Are copies art?
Are inventions art?