Monday, April 29, 2013

Defining Art

Art is subjective, in its many forms, whether it be painting, sculpture, drawing, dance, theatre, writing, or any other form of creative expression.  Therefore narrowing down a specific definition is just as subjective, but I am going to refer to an article entitled “A Naturalist Definition of Art” by Denis Dutton that appeared in the summer 2006 issue of The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism.  In the article he says “characteristic features found cross-culturally can be reduced to a list of core items”.  He went on to describe twelve key items, or characteristic features, that should be present within the questioned work for it to be considered a work of art.  These characteristic features are summarized here:

·         Direct Pleasure – the work should be a source of immediate, experimental pleasure for the viewer.

·         Skill or Virtuosity – specialized skills were required or necessary to create the work.

·         Style – a recognizable style can be easily discerned that sets the work apart from similar works.

·         Novelty and Creativity – the work stands alone as a unique creation or idea even if based on existing ideas or similar creations.

·         Criticism – critique of the work should be elaborate and detailed, the critique is required to compare and contrast the work against similar works in a sophisticated fashion.

·         Representation – a clear, concise idea is represented.

·         “Special” focus – the work should seem “bracketed off” from the ordinary, and will demand unique attention.

·         Expressive Individuality – the work should reflect and be representative of its creator’s unique style and discernible as such.

·         Emotional Saturation – the work should invoke varying degrees of emotion to the viewer.

·         Intellectual Challenge – the work should present a mystery or puzzle to draw in the viewer.

·         Art Traditions and Institutions – the work should be recognized as having value by institutions such as museums, galleries, and the artist’s peers.

·         Imaginative Experience – the work should stand as a “presentation” of the imagination of the viewer.

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