A general definition of art which seems to encompass and explain the
multiplicity of forms might help. How about this one: "Art is a conscious
organization of materials in response to experience"?
This eliminates the "ouch" response or a sneeze, which are reflex motions. It
also eliminates "found object art" which is merely framed and hung as is. It
also eliminates so-called "art" which does not take physical form, which is
neither tangible, visible,nor audible--that is purely conceptual . However,
even a phone call might be considered an art form! It eliminates randomness.
It's inclusive of all forms of consciously organized responses--verbal, audial,
visual, tangible (sculpture), and kinesthetic (dance/theater), and all
combinations of the above. What about experimentation? For the past l00
years since art was relieved of its function to document because of the broader
use of the camera, artists have been free to experiment and have done so with
relish! (it even looks like hamburger sometimes.) I believe experimentation is
a response to experience which includes the ever-increasing challenge of
method, materials and ideas available to the artist.
Art serves many purposes today, only some of which are purely "personal" or
"fine". Artists/designers are responsible for what we wear, our shelters,
They are also much involved, as ever, in persuasion and education through
cartoons, ads/commercials, and "fine" art which emphasizes social, political,
and environmental issues. The artist's personal involvement in his work with
whatever material becomes an important matter of degree and, perhaps, determines
the value of the work-- VALUE, not necessarily cost!
Feldman's steps in criticism are adapted for use here (Highland Park Highschool,
Dallas, Tx) also. If judgment is contingent on knowing intention, however, it
seems we are forced to refrain from judgment in the majority of instances when
we view art work. There may need to be other criteria, many of which depend on
the education/predisposition of the viewer--such as the use of the good old
principles of design and whatever associations are stimulated thereby.
Audiences, like patrons, seem fickle, so that what is rejected today may be
lauded tomorrow. Van Gogh's work is an excellent example. Audiences can be
persuaded, even massaged into desiring certain products. Consumer taste is a
topic needing more time to discuss. It may be that those art forms which are
valued for the longest period of time are the most valuable! It's at least
another question to ask.
The broad definition of art above diverts attention away from the dollar value
of art to the meaning of art as a personal experience of creativity. Of
course, Dewey and others have defined art AS experience, which is yet another
topic to discuss!