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Subject: Re: Definition of art
Date: Sun, 19 Aug 2001 03:02:55 EDT
I think when you've had a chance to see more of art and the art world,
you'll recognize some of the fuzzy points in your definition. You might be
over-estimating, for example, your own importance in the scheme. I mean by
this that we could ask a painter whether he'd rather be "acclaimed" by you
or by the chief curator of the Museum of Modern Art. I think most painters
would pick the curator.
It might be somewhat different with movies, where a film can be panned by
all the critics and still rake in huge amounts of money. With the visual
arts, if you aren't in a position to make major purchases, or to influence
others who make them, I'm afraid you're out of the running as a taste-maker.
But why would you want to be a tastemaker anyway? Why not just enjoy the art
you like, without regard to whether your liking it counts for anything in
the universal scheme? Maybe it's kind of like the general election, in
which your vote has a value, but isn't likely to decide the election.
I realize there are fuzzy points because if I am definite about the
definition then I have excluded intentions and acclamations with which I may
disagree. Obviously, I think there is no "exactness" in art, so nothing but
fuzzy points about its definition. I did not mean to imply that the artist
has a choice in which community acclaims the intention or in what manner it
does so, though certainly the artist may have preferences and try to exert
influence toward those preferences. Or the artist may die and realize only
posthumous acclamation because the audience communities themselves has first
Also, by the "market" community, I meant not the commerce but the
acclamation it bestows. For example, someone can pay millions of dollars for
a painting, but that does not make that painting 'art,' but it does make it
an investment. Should that painting be found to be a forgery, it loses its
status as both as 'art' AND as an investment. Why? Because acclamation has
been withdrawn by at least two of the three audience communities who gave
that painting acclamation in the first place. Why was acclamation withdrawn?
Because the intention was found to be unsatisfactory, which is an example of
large-scale subjectivity being brought to bear. That is what I mean when I
say that we tell ourselves what art is, though we may feel more comfortable
if others agree with us.
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