Defining art can be a thorny task. Some definitions try to explain the contingent features of art while others try to capture the entire gestalt. A number of definitions have come to light during the last hundred years or so. There is no consensus on the subject, however. Some scholars have suggested that the definition of art is a subjective exercise. Some have even suggested that different genders have different artistic styles.
In the Western world, art was defined as an outcome of skill and practice. In the Romantic period, art became a symbol of originality and beauty. It also was a means of social criticism. During the eighteenth century, art was a means of expression for the aristocracy. During this time, artists made their living through their art. The Dutch Golden Age was a time of artistic freedom. In the 18th century, artists became guests of the aristocracy. They were able to master their craft, and they gained notoriety. During the modern period, art was reevaluated and re-defined.
For instance, Monroe Beardsley defined art as a type of experience. He defined an artwork as “an arrangement of conditions” that “accompanies aesthetic experience.” He also defined an aesthetic experience as a “complete” experience. Other definitions of art, such as the definition of “art” proposed by Stephen Davies, argue that something is art if it conveys significant aesthetic qualities. These definitions have been modified to include more subtle nuances. Some argue that art is simply a way of conveying feelings, while others argue that it is a symbol of emotion.
The search for a definitive definition of art, however, has been a misguided endeavor. The search for a definition requires a concept of disinterestedness, but also a creditable concept of aesthetics. It also presupposes the fact that art is an important component of culture. It is also a means of grasping the human world, society, and emotion.
Some of the definitions that are commonly cited are also the product of traditional metaphysics and conceptual confusion. One of the best examples is the Open Concept Argument, developed by Weitz. According to this theory, a concept is a true concept if it can be imagined and has instances.
Another enumerative definition is the list of seven properties developed by Gaut. Although a list of seven properties is not a sufficient list, it is an effective means of capturing the essence of art.
A more sophisticated definition is proposed by Stephen Davies. He argues that an art is a work that exhibits the best of skill. This definition is not just a simple list, however, as it also includes positive aesthetic qualities. It also includes some traditional properties, such as “artistic integrity” and “respectability.”
Another definition is based on the concept of disjunctive. In order to qualify as an artwork, a work of art must have a subject and a style. It must also engage its audience with rhetorical ellipses. A third condition is necessary to prevent the art-hood from collapsing into a classical definition.