« on: July 07, 2013, 02:50:57 AM »
You ask an interesting question, Heavyweight67. To this point, several persons have touched upon matters relevant to answering your question, and I would like to complement what they have written. As the question you pose may appear deceptively simple, so may appear what I write below (as might what others have written above and may write after my post), but let there be no doubt that we could spend a lifetime discussing this matter.
A “question behind your question” is “What is art?” Photography is one form, genre, or medium of art, and forms, genres, media, etc. *per se* are not substantive to the question of whether something is art, as the status of a work as art is not determined by the work being (for example) a painting, a sculpture, a dance, something written, or a photograph. Put another way, something can be a dance without it being art, something can written without it being art, and something can be a photograph without it being art.
Above this post, Canon Rumors members unfocused, yogi, and distant.star address elements of the “artworld” (with this term, I make reference to Arthur Danto). In response to your question, unfocused writes, ". . . anything that art critics, curators, collectors and gallery owners say is art". Distant.star makes reference to M.F.A.-created work v. non-M.F.A.-created work. Yogi appears to recognize the role of a photographer’s (i.e., artist’s) intention to create a photograph as art and not “just” as a photograph, and he also recognizes with what he writes the notion of art as a social construction. CharlieB incorporates thoughtful humor into the thread with his proposition that we ". . . abbreviate fine art as fart, as in artsy-fartsy".
Cogent in this thread is that context and status are crucial to the status of a work as art. If one self-presents as an artist, creates intentionally a work as an artwork to have it displayed or appreciated in an appropriate context (e.g., a gallery, museum, exhibition, concert hall, theater, or other like setting), then one’s creation is art within relevant and appropriate contexts. It is right to remember, additionally, that this “definition” of art does not speak to the matter of whether an artwork is “good/bad”, “useful/useless”, “emotive/non-emotive”, “valuable/valueless”, “practical/impractical”, and so forth. What this conception of art does speak to is the matter of the artworld as an “institution” and how the interplay of socio-historical context, status, and aesthetic theory (to name only three factors) are inextricably connected with what is art, who is an artist, and how/why works might be perceived as art (reference here is to George Dickie).
Content *per se*, then–like genre or medium–is neither necessary nor sufficient to the classification of a work (e.g., a photograph) as art (reference here to aesthetician Susanne Langer). Furthermore, while art may not be “concrete” in the sense that physics or chemistry can be, it does not follow that it is “only” or “purely” subjective. Art norms do exist, after all, and like many norms, they vary socio-historically . For art, then, one cannot conclude rightly or assume “pure subjectivity” due to an absense of universally applicable standards or norms.
Much (or all) of what everyone has contributed to this thread so far touches upon this artsy-fartsy post of mine, and I hope that we all have been (and will be) helpful in responding to your question.