Elizabeth Moore PHIL 1013-002 4/29/2010 Out of the three main accounts for determining whether or not something is ?art,? the Institutionalist account is the most problematic. This account says that there must be a public audience for art in order for it to be art. According to Dickie art is only art if it is created in order to be presented to the ?artworld.? This is problematic for two reasons. First of all, some things were not created with the intention of being presented to the public, but clearly are works of art. For example, the cave paintings in Lascaux and Chauvet are some of the most ancient forms of art. They depict bulls, horses, humans, birds, and are really amazing pieces of art that took talent and creativity to make. However they were painted in the depth of caves that were almost impossible to get into and could only fit a couple people at once. Historians believe that they made these paintings to create sacred places and went back very rarely. They definitely didn?t intend for the public to see them. This theory, however, would say that these paintings are not works of art, when it is clear that they are art. Another example is the intricately sculptured Roman sarcophagi, or the beautiful burial mask of King Tut. These things were created in order to be buried, not to be shown to the artworld. Anyone you ask would agree that things are works of art. However, according Dickie?s institutionalist theory, these things would not be art. A person may argue that these things were eventually shown to the public artworld. But then we reach the problem of were these things not art until other people saw them? That seems like it can?t be possible considering that nothing about the actual objects changed, only the viewers. Comment by Alex Feldt: You seem to just assume them to be art. It might be helpful to say a bit more about why we ought to think these are art. Are they similar in important ways to other artworks? Could we just say that these were created prior to the artworld and thus couldn?t have been made to be presented to an artworld, but now that there is an artworld the artworld can retroactively go back and accept prior things as art? Comment by Alex Feldt: Avoid contractions Comment by Alex Feldt: Why is it clear that these are art? Why not say they are similar to art, but are instead something else, perhaps related to religious tradition or practice? Comment by Alex Feldt: New paragraph Comment by Alex Feldt: Again why? Since some might be willing to bite the bullet and say well they are beautiful and ornate, but are not art, they are just ritual objects, you need to give a bit more on why these are art. It could just be that people are wrong about a formal definition of art. Comment by Alex Feldt: Good point There are also some works of art that may never be shown to anyone. I paint all the time. I paint just because I enjoy it, because I like creating things and depicting things and it just calms me down. I don?t paint to show my work to anyone; some things I don?t even show to my parents. Are my paintings not artwork because they are not on display to the artworld? That cannot be the case. Comment by Alex Feldt: Why not? Give some reasons. This creates a new problem, that the ?artworld? is never defined well by the institutionalists. When do my paintings become art? When I show a single other person? When I show 50 people? When I put some stuff in the art festival? When I have my own gallery? When my paintings are in a museum? There is no given way to determine when exactly art becomes art. Comment by Alex Feldt: This is a good discussion and could probably actually be expanded and developed a bit more. How do I know that my paintings are actually art? Of course they are, because they hark back to French impressionism, which came out of neoclassism, which came from classical Roman paintings left in ruins, which somehow spread from long ago cave paintings. Art is art when it relates back to previously existing artwork. Or, (in the case of the most ancient forms of art, that do not have anything previous to relate back to) art is art when people following it and look back to it when making new art, or when it is a piece that is related back to. This is the easiest way to describe art because in includes all the things that people understand as art, and doesn?t include things that aren?t understood to be art. I realize that it is possible for the general public?s understanding of art to be false, but why not use a definition that fits best with the general public?s understanding, because it is likely to be correct. Comment by Alex Feldt: So why are these art, one might push back? Comment by Alex Feldt: Do you take this to be a type of Art-Historical account? It would add strength to make a connection here if you think there is some parallel. You have a generally well-written paper and raise some significant points against the institutionalist. There are a few places where you need to make the reasoning more explicit. I think it might seem so obviously the case to you and you know why you think so, so you don?t give some of the reasoning that would really strengthen the argument. Also, it seems that in some places you just assume something as art, but it would help to say why we might think that, especially given that idea of separating art from ritual objects or something like that which could make sense of the cave paintings or the burial mask. GRADE: B+
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