Art: The Most Problematic Concept There Ever Was

Does the deliberate act of making a piece of artwork continue it to fall into the category or art? Who gets to decide if something is considered true artwork? This is a question that I have contemplated for a very long time and continue to read about and fixate on quite often. It is a controversial topic that interests me and I enjoy hearing both sides to this argument of what is to be considered art versus what is not.

This issue of deciphering the right or wrong answer has been discussed for over thousands of years according to the author, Thomas E Wartenberg, who wrote the book, The Nature of Art. In his book, he touches on numerous philosophers consisting of, Plato, Aristotle, David Hume, and Immanuel Kant to state a few. Later in the book, these philosophers each have a whole chapter dedicated to them and their views about art.

In the introduction of this book, he begins by proposing very common questions about art and briefly answers them to set the tone of the remainder of the book. Some of the questions consist of: “Does the artist’s intentions make it art? Does the fact that a work of art is treated as Art by the art world make it art? Are judgments about art objective or are they simply matters of taste? Is one artistic or aesthetic judgment as good as another? Is contemporary art still art?” These questions begin to explain why art is considered to be such a problematic concept.

The questions that I found most interesting within this section are “Does the artist’s intentions make it art?” and “Are judgments about art objective or are they simple matters of taste”. Defining something as art because that artist declared it to be art and had intentions to make something and call it art, is completely valid in my opinion. How could someone, as an audience, possibly look at an object that an individual created (physically or conceptually), and dare say that it is not art? In my opinion that is undermining the artist who made it. The audience member may not think it is a nice piece of art, or well made, or even interesting for that matter. But there still should be an amount of respect for the artist and for the fact that it was created and exists or has existed at some time in space.

Additionally, the topic of art being judged is very intriguing but also a little more confusing to me. In my opinion, judgments about art are more subjective than objective. When an artist creates a piece of artwork, and presents it for their audience, they are accepting the fact that they cannot control the audiences’ full thoughts about their piece. They can guide the viewers thoughts in a certain direction with their artwork, but the true judgment that are being made by each individuals audience member is out of the artist’s control. These subjective thoughts that the viewers have are all different, considering everyone is different and have had various experiences that have shaped them into the person that they are today, while viewing the art piece. I believe that the matter of liking something or disliking something plays a huge role while viewing artwork but it does not devalue a creation that was made, and currently is, art.

Wartenberg, Thomas E. “What Makes “Art” such a Problematic Concept?” Introduction. The Nature of Art: An Anthology. Fort Worth: Harcourt College, 2002. 1–12. Print.