The New York Gallerist, Edward Winkleman (which has to be one of the best names a gallery owner could ever hope to aspire too) had a piece on his blog What's an Artist? Take 459 which has attracted over 70 comments which mostly seem to be splitting hairs.
It all tends to wind its way round the concept purported to the afore mention gallerist “A person is an artist if they say they are”. A concept that supports my claim to be a brain surgeon, although I would strongly suggest to anyone who saw me scalpel in hand to head in the opposite direction at speed.
Fortunately my claim to Brain surgery is rubbish because brain surgery is quantifiable but it seems, especially from the above blog comments, that art is not. A search of the web tends to suggest that such is the case. Even the venerable Wikipedia says art is subjective which really is just a restating of the old adage “I nothing about art, but I know what I like” and basically a cop out.
A little further investigation came up with a paper by Kenneth M. Lansing a Distinguished Fellow of National Art Education Association, who defined it as “Visual art is the skillful presentation of concepts and/or emotions (ideas and feelings) in a form that is structurally (compositionally) satisfying and coherent.” A not too shabby definition to my mind and armed with such the identification of art practitioners becomes possible.
For to be without such a definition all paintings, photographs, sculptures at al become works of art with the eye of the beholder determining if they are good or bad art. If such a beholder is a gallerist the good art is that which they think they can sell, ie those works which are the current flavour of the month. And when art becomes a fashion statement, God help us all.