What is Art?

Use this forum to have philosophical discussions about aesthetics and art. What is art? What is beauty? What makes art good? You can also use this forum to discuss philosophy in the arts, namely to discuss the philosophical points in any particular movie, TV show, book or story.
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ThomasHobbes
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Re: What is Art?

Post by ThomasHobbes » August 18th, 2018, 1:09 pm

Jan Sand wrote:
August 18th, 2018, 12:05 am
Art is a mode of communication.
Two things.

1) Describing but one aspect of a thing does not define it, exhaust it or encompass it. For example. "American is where you get hamburgers"

2) Art is not always a mode of communication.

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ThomasHobbes
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Re: What is Art?

Post by ThomasHobbes » August 18th, 2018, 1:10 pm

Number2018 wrote:
August 17th, 2018, 8:59 pm
It is impossible to define art, because this word signifies absolutely different expressive practices: are Michelangelo's David
and Duchamp's Fountain belong to the same "art"?
The Fountain is not art.
It is anti-art.

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Re: What is Art?

Post by Jan Sand » August 18th, 2018, 1:41 pm

And anti-art is art.

Since people recognize art when they see it it must have qualities that can be defined.

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Hereandnow
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Re: What is Art?

Post by Hereandnow » August 18th, 2018, 5:20 pm

Jan Sand:
All things are not under observation. Art is when someone points to something to convey an idea that fits into an art category, When an artist consciously creates something as art that makes it a communicable element. Andy Warhol made an ordinary soap box art when he indicated it should be worth considering for its physical characteristics but also as a product of our culture and what it might convey under that consideration. A sunset is not beautiful until someone perceives its delightful characteristics and how it might be a symbol of an ending of a day. To someone blind, a sunset cannot be beautiful. But, from the point of an observer in space, the sun doesn't set. One must be on the spinning planet to see a sunset. It is as much a product of the observer as it is of the sun and the spinning planet and that can make it considered as a kind of art. If it is observed by an Earth bound astronomer who views it scientifically it might be acceptable to not consider it as art.
When you say not under observation you mean, as the jargon goes, they are not deemed as art episodically. If I say the piece of driftwood looks heavy, this has nothing to do with art and the driftwood is nothing more that this, with an emphasis on weight. But if I say it is beautiful, then by my word it becomes art, at least for me, perhaps others as well. This means that art is what is taken up AS art, and I recall something similar from an aesthetician named Arthur Danto (think clouds in the sky, There is a camel, there a turtle, and so on. We summon these into existence by a mere perceptual interpretative act.
This is a great idea and very close to the way to account for what art is. But: if it were a matter of defining reason, say, it would be a straight forward examination of rational constructs possessed by thought and judgment (Kant). But here, things are not so clear, for when I look at something AS art, what is it that I have do be doing in order to make my interpretation one of an artistic nature?

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ThomasHobbes
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Re: What is Art?

Post by ThomasHobbes » August 18th, 2018, 5:29 pm

Jan Sand wrote:
August 18th, 2018, 1:41 pm
And anti-art is art.
Not as far as I am concerned.

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Re: What is Art?

Post by Jan Sand » August 18th, 2018, 7:22 pm

Any object, an artist's construction, a found object, a mathematical proof, or that famous pissoir which is offered for consideration under cultural values of aesthetics thereby becomes art. That urinal in an art gallery is not placed there as a urine receptacle but as a form to be considered as a spacial solid object. The same article in a men's room is not there to be analyzed for its form but as a utility and not necessarily as a sculptural form - but it is up to the observer to make that choice. Each type of perception is valid and each requires a mental approach quite different which has contextual connotations.The act of placing an object for abstract consideration in an art gallery makes it art.

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Hereandnow
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Re: What is Art?

Post by Hereandnow » August 18th, 2018, 9:03 pm

And, Jan Sand, the art lies in the perception of the object as art. It's independent features are accidental, that is, mere occasions for artistic judgment. But still the question is begged: art? What does it mean to observe a thing AS art? What does one bring to bear upon this thing that makes for an art experience? Everything can be art, and that is why this approach has merit. But the essence of art still remains undisclosed.

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Re: What is Art?

Post by Jan Sand » August 19th, 2018, 1:24 am

The nature of mind in all its facets in birds and fish, in dogs and cats, in grasshoppers and human beings, is to seize what it can discern and fabricate from that an integration of some sort of reality. No mind can see or understand the moment by moment cascade of everything that flows through time and experience so we take a bit here and there and manufacture what we presume to be important and act on that. Pavlov's dogs fabricated dinner from the sound of a bell. We fabricate a universe from tiny spots of light and fabricate loveliness from a rectangle of paint smeared canvas assembled by DaVinci called the Mona Lisa. But almost anything can become dinner or loveliness if we can convince ourselves it is there. Art is loveliness or hatred or fear or delight seeking a home in whatever we accept as appropriate to place it.

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Re: What is Art?

Post by Hereandnow » August 20th, 2018, 11:00 am

It seems you are saying that artistic responses may include every conceivable emotion, disposition or mood. It is in the "fabrication of some sort of reality" that elicits, not Clive Bell's aesthetic rapture, but any response at all. But are you suggesting that art can be a dinner bell that elicits salivation? Is appetite potentially an artistic response? Or reading a scientific treatise? Your last sentence seems to say that everything is art, for art is everything. This, of course, requires more, for if all things and all possible responses to them, are art, then nothing is art.

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Re: What is Art?

Post by Jan Sand » August 20th, 2018, 11:38 am

The universe is diverse, a bundle of the best and worst that must be selected in its variety to manage sobriety and insanity. Everything is everything and perception divides and subdivides what is offered to provide the raw material for the substantial and the spiritual. To take what's given and convert it into whatever may be useful and trash the rest as rubbish is a huge error. A clever thought, a skillful hand can command all sorts of results. Warhole's Brillo Box exists to confront the eye and philosophy with all the strength of Michelangelo's chopped marble chunk and validates with equal integrity the currency of human culture.

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Re: What is Art?

Post by Jan Sand » August 20th, 2018, 12:16 pm

Incidentally, that ideal of aesthetic rapture strikes me as a rather shallow objective of art. Ballet and music may have problems with emotions other than delight but much of writing and theater and painting and sculpture take no hesitation in plunging into the most wonderful strengths of what may be viewed as more disturbing emotions.

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Re: What is Art?

Post by 3uGH7D4MLj » August 20th, 2018, 2:21 pm

Art is just art. Sometimes there's rapture, essence, significant form, whatever. Doesn't mean it's art or not art.

Art is the most important thing in my life and I do not understand this conversation. Art is a simple category of objects. There's no mystery.

Art is art. Everything else is everything else.

I like your posts Jan! And HAN, I loved your sensitive rendering of Kierkegaard elsewhere on this board, I never thanked you for that, but... because anything can be art then nothing is art? Does that really make sense?
fair to say

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Re: What is Art?

Post by Jan Sand » August 20th, 2018, 3:21 pm

Art is a way of seeing and reacting to the world and especially those human constructions meant to create a reaction. Whether they are puzzles like Escher's things or Malevich's blank canvases or John Cage's silent piano or the oddity of a mobius strip or a tesseract or the very Freudian Eiffel tower or the Washington Monument or the famous urinal or Carroll's " Brillig were the borogoves". they all evoke emotion and strain the normality of perception and conception and that is their value.

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Re: What is Art?

Post by Jan Sand » August 20th, 2018, 3:54 pm

Sorry, at my age memory plays tricks. My comment should read for Carroll "Twas brillig and the slithy toves"

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Re: What is Art?

Post by Jan Sand » August 21st, 2018, 2:36 am

Perhaps it makes more sense to to question that very important word "is" which so concerned the philosopher Korzybski. "Is" is a dull axe of a word that chops reality into ragged chunks leaving pieces of other things still attached.The universe, after all, is one "thing" and even us who delight in attempting to define ourselves as individuals are intricately intimate in our massive connectivity to everything else so we are deeply stained with the colors of infinity and eternity as well as full of cockroaches and galactic dust. Many years ago, back in the early 1950's I worked on a short job creating murals on glass panels for the Santa Fe Railroad to be installed on one of their trains. The boss on the job was an old guy named Maragliotti who was a professional mural painter for movie houses and a couple of young artists were hired to make the floral decorations. They had just graduated from Cooper Union Art school and the one I remember was named Alex Katz who has, since, done fairly well as a fine artist. There is an article about him at https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018 ... ife-in-art and he is, unlike me, a real artist. I take stabs at it when I get an idea but never took it that seriously. We worked in a huge studio on top of New York's Grand Central Station and I did some of the research on the technique for painting on glass. I was a year older than Alex but he was a serious artist and I have never been. He was still fishing around to find himself but lived in a loft when that was still illegal at that time on East 27 Street in Manhattan and I had lunch with him at his place where he gave me one of his early small abstracts which seems to have been a colorful piece of trees and sky. Unfortunately, my son, who knows nothing about art, threw it out when I was away on a trip. Since it was unsigned it probably had little financial value but it was a good painting. I mention Alex because he has a very individual style and it took me quite a while to appreciate what he was about and why he is so currently appreciated. It requires a good deal of depth of understanding to see that he is not a primitive as some of his efforts seem, at first, somewhat cartoonish . But examining a range of his efforts makes clear the depth and originality of his approach.

This is relevant to this discussion since the range of painting alone, aside from the other arts, benefits from experience with a large spectrum if art in many cultures and ranges from the wonderful cave paintings through all the eras of human history and culture. It's not easy but it is fascinating and worth the effort and does not surrender easy answers.

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