The most critical thing you must understand about art. Part 1/5 / by Kirk Dunkley

(The most critical thing you must understand about art. Part 1/5)

Art is simply not a YES or NO proposition.

The word "art" is a very complicated and ever-evolving compound concept. It is extremely plastic,  conforming to fit within present social and historical contexts. The definition of art 50 years ago was entirely different than it is now, and our current definition of the artworks that existed 50 years ago is different now than it was then! The next time you find yourself contemplating an artwork, and find yourself questioning whether the work is or is not art, stop yourself immediately. THIS is not how to experience art. To question whether something is or is not art is in fact a semantic trap. A loop hole. A snake eating its own tail. This is pseudo-intellectual nonsense!!!

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On the other hand, if anyone with an artistic intention can claim that they are an artist and that their creative output is defacto art, it doesn't lend much credibility to the notion of art, does it? How are we to reconcile a situation where an object that is clearly not artwork is adopted by an artistic institution and deemed to be art? The most famous example is of course Marcel Duchamp's 1917 work Fountain, which was nothing more than a commercially available urinal mounted to a gallery wall. What was it about this object that was so special, it was voted the most influential artwork of the 20th century by 500 selected British art world professionals in  December 2004? 

The only way to resolve this scenario is to ask the following questions:

In what way or ways does an object or activity conform with the contemporary concept of fine art? To what degree is it art? To what degree is it not art?

I'll leave you with these thoughts for now, and will expand on them in my next post. Happy art viewing!