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Re: Artists book

Judith wrote:
 Language is a consensus concerning useful
>>ranges of unavoidable fuzzynesses, not sharp distinctions.

And Sally said:

IMHO, art, like
beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.  The definition of art as
something that elicits emotion is too vague, because many thing elicit
emotion that are clearly not art . . . I think that art is
something that two people, the maker and the viewer, agree on.

I want to push the matter of consensus. I think art is language and what
Judith wrote about language is applicable to art. At some point in the
discussion it was stated that an object is art if the artist intends it to
be. Sally applies to art the well known position that beauty is in the eye
of the beholder. So, we have art defined by two subjective judgments---the
artist, on the one hand, and the beholder on the other. Must there be a
consensus between the two in order for the object to be art? What is the
significance, if any, of a consensus among many beholders?  What if the
beholders differ from the creator of the object who may not have intended
the object as art at all? Or the more likely reverse?

It seems to me that historically art has been identified as such because of
a consensus (sometimes contemporary with the artist, often not) of many
beholders, frequently over time. This helps remove the matter from the
purely subjective since among many beholders in agreement there can usually
be discerned some common value principles or yardsticks that are being
used, probably subconsciously, to identify the creation as art. Value
principles change over time as art evolves and are debatable as to
relevance at any given time. But at least they permit the conversation to
continue, whereas a purely subjective approach results in "I think it's
art" vs. "I don't"---end of discussion.

So what are the value principles we are applying? Berwyn mentions the two
main categories--form and function.  There can be value principles in both
categories. We may disagree as to the value, importance, or relevance vel
non of any given principle but the discussion can be organized this way.

Sam Lanham

Sam Lanham (slanham@xxxxxxxx)

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