Recently I had an interesting conversation with friends about, what is art? It's quite amusing to see someone flounder out a definition of art. In my Art History undergraduate classes the first class always discussed this topic. I remember one time a student critiqued a piece art saying to wasn't art until the professor revealed it was actually a Picasso. The mere audacity of someone trying define what art is, is intellectual masturbation; spend all day, all year defining and in the end you've done nothing. Art is undefinable.
Take for example, a plate of dinnerware. Is it art? How about if it's Rococo? Or used in painting by Julian Schnabel? Or Ming?
When Duchamp hung a urinal on the wall, was it art? Most would say, "Hell NO! That is not art! Are you kidding me?!" Others would say, "No, it is art because Duchamp did it." Is it art? When a plumber hung that same urinal on a wall that Duchamp eventually used, was it art? This was exactly the whole point of Duchamp and Dadaism, art cannot be defined because art is everything.
People that try to qualify what is and isn't art are sadly ignorant. Why? Because our tastes are subjective. During this conversation a friend of mine stated, "The artist must state it is art. Otherwise, it isn't art." My response was grabbing a high lighter and jotting a sticky note and said, "It's art!" "Wellllll ....." According to his definition of what defines art, that post-it was just as much a piece of art as anything in the Louvre. However, when I actually applied his definition it was soon realized that this definition is inaccurate which is exactly the point. What defines art as art is undefinable. Does that sound universalistic? It is; most definitely; from the graffiti on the overpass to the Goya's,"The Nude Maja," and back to a child's grabbing a crayon and scribbling their first line on a piece of paper; it's all art.
What exactly is so frustrating or offensive about everything being art? If anything the world becomes more alive. Possibilities are endless. Anything can be art or rather everything is art. Anyone can be an artist. Aesthetics are inherit in everything from urban decay to a building designed by Francis Lloyd Wright.
Needless to say during this conversation tempers ignited with emotion overtaking reason as frustration at the futility of embarking on such an endeavor set in. Typically those who do not have an education are usually the ones with the most rigid definition of what is and isn't art. They are the ones who "know" and define the difference between commercial and fine art, nudity and pornography, illustration and fine art, etc. However, I do not think that the logic for their conclusions always stems from stupidity but rather from not having seriously analyzed the subject of art itself. Ask any professor, art critic, museum curator or educated artist and they'll agree that anything can be art. Any time anyone tries to define what is and isn't art what they're actually defining is their personal tastes or appeals to their intellect.
Word to the wise, if you ever feel compelled to define ART, don't, you will only look like a fool.
Listening to: People's BS
Reading: Financial News
Playing: Mario Kart
Eating: Poppy Seed Muffin
Drinking: Green Tea