In recent years, the perplexing notion that everything is art and everyone is an artist has gained prominence, ushering in a movement that rejects all criteria and equates aesthetic judgment with the expression of merely subjective experiences. It is disconcerting to observe that these endeavors, inadvertently revealing their true intentions, have degenerated into meaningless experiments devoid of substance. Paradoxically, however, these experiments have succeeded in revivifying and illuminating the very artistic structures they sought to destroy.

My thoughts are invariably drawn to the inherent complexities of art and its profound impact on the human condition as I delve into the implications of this intellectual conundrum. Art in its traditional sense has been governed by a discernible set of criteria and standards throughout its lengthy history. These criteria have been shaped by artistic traditions, movements, and cultural contexts over centuries. By providing guidelines for aesthetic evaluation, they have enabled us to differentiate between the ordinary and the extraordinary, the commonplace and the sublime.

However, proponents of the belief that everything is art have overlooked a fundamental truth: the assertion that everything is art effectively negates artistic mastery, innovation, and aesthetic discernment. By removing all criteria, we risk reducing art to the expression of individual whims and caprice, devoid of any objective measure or standard.

Art has the extraordinary capacity to transcend the subjective realm and tap into the universal essence that resides within us all. It has the ability to create profound intellectual and emotional connections that transcend the limitations of individual experiences. Nonetheless, in our enthusiasm for subjective expression, we run the risk of losing sight of this transformative potential. By equating all forms of expression with art, we risk diluting the profound influence that genuine artistic endeavors can have on society.

The evolution of art is dependent on the delicate interplay between tradition and innovation, craft and experimentation. It is precisely the tension created by these opposing forces that has propelled art forward, pushing its boundaries, challenging its conventions, and redefining its paradigms. Inadvertently, the very attempts to demolish these structures end up giving them new life. By attempting to undermine the foundations of art, we unwittingly fortify and strengthen them. Criteria and standards give art the ability to evolve, adapt, and ultimately transcend itself.

Moreover, by proclaiming that everyone is an artist, we run the risk of devaluing artistic skill and unwavering commitment. While it is undeniable that every person possesses a creative impulse, not everyone possesses the technical expertise and honed craftsmanship required to create art that profoundly resonates with others. Through years of disciplined practice, study, and refinement, artists develop their distinctive artistic voice and contribute to the art canon. By disregarding the value of expertise and mastery, we endanger the very pillars upon which artistic excellence is built.

One is compelled to examine the motivations underlying these experiments when considering these issues. Are they genuinely motivated to democratize and make art accessible to all? Or are they the result of an individualistic society that seeks to validate all self-expression as art regardless of its quality or significance? While it is admirable to promote inclusiveness and broaden the definition of art, there is a legitimate concern that these well-meaning efforts may devalue art itself.

In its purest form, art transcends the limitations of time and space. It is a reflection of the triumphs, struggles, and aspirations of society. Art has the potential to transcend the individual and resonate with the universal human condition because it is capable of challenging preconceived notions, inciting thought, and evoking profound emotions. By reducing art to the mere expression of subjective experiences, we run the risk of diminishing its capacity to transcend and communicate with humanity’s essence.

Could it be that, in our haste to embrace inclusivity and abolish hierarchies, we have unwittingly eroded the essence of artistic expression?

Art has emerged throughout history as a product of human imagination and originality, bolstered by rigorous inquiry, introspection, and mastery. Through their unyielding pursuit of excellence, artists have transcended the ordinary and granted the world glimpses of the extraordinary. By equating all expressions with art, we jeopardize the immense effort, commitment, and skill that underpin truly remarkable artistic creations.

In addition, the belief that everything is art and that everyone is an artist can foster a dangerous form of relativism. How can we distinguish between profound artistic accomplishments and trivial nonsense if every individual expression is considered art? How can we distinguish between works that defy conventions and redefine the boundaries of artistic practice and those that are arbitrary or devoid of substance?

At its core, art is a conversation between the artist and the audience, requiring both skillful execution and receptive interpretation. By blurring the lines between what constitutes art and who can be considered an artist, we run the risk of watering down this discussion. The nuanced, critical engagement that results from navigating the complexities of artistic expression is jeopardized.

In my philosophical reflections, I find comfort in the idea that art is a realm where subjectivity and objectivity coexist in harmony. Art is undeniably subjective, as it is influenced by the artist’s experiences, emotions, and worldview. However, it is also an integral part of the larger tapestry of human cultural production, shaped by historical contexts, societal dynamics, and the human experience as a whole.

To truly appreciate art, we must recognize the interaction between its subjective and objective aspects. In addition to appreciating the importance of individual interpretation and emotional resonance, we must also acknowledge the significance of technical skill, cultural context, and the transformative power of artistic traditions. The true beauty and significance of art are manifested within this delicate equilibrium.

Criteria and standards should not be perceived as stifling restrictions, but rather as guiding principles that promote the evolution and development of the arts. These criteria serve as a compass, guiding us through the vast expanse of artistic expression and allowing us to recognize works with exceptional artistic merit.

By recognizing the significance of expertise and craftsmanship, we honor the achievements of artists who have devoted their lives to honing their skills and pushing the limits of their respective mediums. We cultivate a cultural environment where artistic excellence is valued and the pursuit of mastery is regarded as a noble endeavor.

In light of these experiments that have revealed their inherent limitations, let us not overlook the transformative power of art itself. Art is capable of challenging, inspiring, and provoking. It can transcend individual experiences and resound with the entire human spirit. As we navigate the complexities of defining art and contemplate the artist’s role, we must not lose sight of this profound ability.

I urge you to consider the consequences of declaring everything to be art and everyone an artist. Let us embrace the subjective and objective dimensions inherent in art’s complexity. Let us recognize the talent, tenacity, and artistic brilliance that has shaped the artistic canon throughout history. By doing so, we can cultivate a greater appreciation and comprehension of the transformative power of art in our lives.

Arthur C. Danto, “The Transfiguration of the Commonplace” (United States)
Pierre Bourdieu, “Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste” (France)
Hans Belting, “The Invisible Masterpiece” (Germany)
George Dickie, “The Art Circle: A Theory of Art” (United States)
Richard Shusterman, “Thinking through the Body: Essays in Somaesthetics” (United States)
Thierry de Duve, “Kant after Duchamp” (Belgium)
Morris Weitz, “The Role of Theory in Aesthetics” (United States)
Noël Carroll, “The Philosophy of Art: A Contemporary Introduction” (United States)
Cynthia Freeland, “But is it Art?: An Introduction to Art Theory” (United States)
Denis Dutton, “The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution” (United States)