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Swerve of Shore

Does Rand's Aesthetics Differ from Soviet "Art"?

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/ re technique and medium:

That is a point in itself. New techniques have created new media. As I said, or I say more concretely now, Film is the natural heir to visual art.

It is more than the heir to visual art, it has so many aspects of other 'fine' arts, literature(dialouge), scenery and lighting the techniques of visual art, the musical score. Film is an incredible media(medium?) for art in the Randian sense.

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When first reading Rand's nonfiction, I remember being suprised at the idea that 'art' needed a definition. After reading The Romantic Manifesto, I felt I had 'got it'.I think I can appreciate the difference between Greek sculpture and say soup cans a la Warhol. The former being what Rand considered works of art by her definition, while the latter would fall into the catagory of creative decoration.

How did you come to the conclusion that Warhol's images of soup cans do not qualify as art by the Objectivist definition? Objectivism defines art as "a re-creation of reality according to an artist's metaphysical value-judgments." Images of cans of soup are re-creations of things in reality, and no less so than any object in any still life which Objectivism accepts as art. They are stylized representations. They essentialize cans of soup in the same way that Rand described a painting of an apple essentializing the apple. The style that Warhol used presents the objects not as they are in reality, but as they "might or ought to be." They are stylisitically perfected and essentialized for the purpose of the expression of "metaphysical values."

I think the highest paid artist currently is Koos(?) , whose works include oversized metallic sculptures in the shape of balloon creatures. If my understanding of what Rand meant is correct, this shows how culturally ingrained irrationality is yes?

No. How could anyone believe that a re-creation of one object, such as an apple or a flower, is a valid work of art, but that the re-creation of another object, such as a balloon, is not a valid work of art?

Those sculptures may be very innovative works of decoration , but other than the idea of whimsy, they connote no abstractions that can be thematically concretised and contemplated by the viewer of the work.

Who is "the viewer"? You? How did you determine that the works "connote no abstractions"? The fact that you are incapable of identifying meaning in a work of art does not mean that that inability is true of everyone. I and many other people don't have such limitations. We can identify abstractions in stylistic re-creations of balloons just easily as we can identify them is re-creations of apples, and just as easily as Rand identified them in re-creations of apples.

J

Edited by Jonathan13

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As to music appreciation I agree, it seems to be the medium in which subjectivity plays the largest role. Perhaps it shouldn't even be in the category of art, unless it can be shown that tonal appreciation of a piece of music(fake concept here, more like the idea we all hear the same thing ,everytime) actually evokes the same idea universally.

Music does not meet Rand's definition and criteria of art. Nor does architecture or dance. And if we go by Objectivists' ability to accurately identify "artist's meanings" in works of art (including Objectivists who teach art history and art appreciation courses), many novels and realistic paintings with obvious, overt narrative don't qualify either.

J

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Who is "the viewer"? You? How did you determine that the works "connote no abstractions"? The fact that you are incapable of identifying meaning in a work of art does not mean that that inability is true of everyone. I and many other people don't have such limitations. We can identify abstractions in stylistic re-creations of balloons just easily as we can identify them is re-creations of apples, and just as easily as Rand identified them in apples.

J

I did qualify that all comments about art or fine art, are coming from a very limited knowledge or perhaps skill in appreciating art.

As to Koos' works, the big magenta bunny looks like a balloon animal a clown would make at a child's party, what image does it evoke for you ?

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As a further qualification,I incorrectly posted in this thread, as I meant to comment on the other similar thread, but since a conversation between volco and myself followed I didn't try and correct the mistake.

I think there is a distinction between Romantic art and non Romantic art. I see where perhaps I am blurring the lines and adding confusion. I have always understand Rand's definition of Romantic art to include the idea that the theme of a work must be based on the concretisation of an abstraction , to bring a concept to the perceptual level, i think was how she described it. Leaving the concept of art to be more broadly interperated.

Edited by tadmjones

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How did you come to the conclusion that Warhol's images of soup cans do not qualify as art by the Objectivist definition? Objectivism defines art as "a re-creation of reality according to an artist's metaphysical value-judgments." Images of cans of soup are re-creations of things in reality, and no less so than any object in any still life which Objectivism accepts as art. They are stylized representations. They essentialize cans of soup in the same way that Rand described a painting of an apple essentializing the apple. The style that Warhol used presents the objects not as they are in reality, but as they "might or ought to be." They are stylisitically perfected and essentialized for the purpose of the expression of "metaphysical values."

No. How could anyone believe that a re-creation of one object, such as an apple or a flower, is a valid work of art, but that the re-creation of another object, such as a balloon, is not a valid work of art?

Who is "the viewer"? You? How did you determine that the works "connote no abstractions"? The fact that you are incapable of identifying meaning in a work of art does not mean that that inability is true of everyone. I and many other people don't have such limitations. We can identify abstractions in stylistic re-creations of balloons just easily as we can identify them is re-creations of apples, and just as easily as Rand identified them in re-creations of apples.

J

Actually the more I think about, i was wrong to qualify my statements concerning art appreciation. One does not need a specialised knowledge to apprehend or appreciate a work of art. There is nothing in Rand's definition to suggest it , nor does she state it in any of her subsequent writing on the subject.

Someone who can see in a piece the" art" that is not apparent to the casual observer is coming from some position of pretense.

Edited by tadmjones

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J

Torres & Kamhi,

What Art Is:The Esthetic Theory of Ayn Rand , chapter 6 discusses Rand's definition and contrasts that with the nonessential definitions of art as provided by the 'artworld' in the mid 20th century, the era that labeled such works as soup cans as art , when in fact they are not

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I think there is a distinction between Romantic art and non Romantic art.

Rand's distinction between the essence of Romantic art and of non-Romantic art was that Romantic art presents a view of mankind as possessing and exercising volition, where non-Romantic art does not.

I see where perhaps I am blurring the lines and adding confusion. I have always understand Rand's definition of Romantic art to include the idea that the theme of a work must be based on the concretisation of an abstraction, to bring a concept to the perceptual level, i think was how she described it.

What you just described is not Rand's concept of "Romantic art," but her concept of "art" (including non-Romantic art).

Leaving the concept of art to be more broadly interperated.

No. She did not leave the concept of art to be more broadly interpreted. There was no room in her stated criteria for anything which did not concretize abstractions on a perceptual level. Her position was that that which ceases to present an intelligible subject and meaning ceases to be art.

J

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No. She did not leave the concept of art to be more broadly interpreted. There was no room in her stated criteria for anything which did not concretize abstractions on a perceptual level. Her position was that that which ceases to present an intelligible subject and meaning ceases to be art.

J

Based on that criteria then, recreation of the visual image of cans does not concretise any intelligible abstraction, therefore is not art.

Unless commercial billboards are considered to be art.

Edited by tadmjones

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Actually the more I think about, i was wrong to qualify my statements concerning art appreciation. One does not need a specialised knowledge to apprehend or appreciate a work of art.

How do you define "specialized knowledge"? I've seen thousands of people directly view and respond to Vermeer's paintings. I've never seen any of them taking Rand's position on Vermeer. The "casual observer" does not agree with her that his work is naturalism. So, are you suggesting that these people, who saw and identified much more in Vermeer's art than Rand did, must have had some sort of "specialised knowledge"? Or is it possible that, in some areas, Rand was perhaps a bit lacking in knowledge or abilities than the average "casual observer"?

How do you define "casual observer"? I've visited a lot of galleries and museums, and I've seen many casual observers very easily identifying subjects and meanings in art forms that Objectivism states are not valid art forms.

In contrast, here's a post of mine from last year in which I asked people to follow Objectivism's aesthetic requirements and identify the subjects and artist's meanings in realist paintings. No one was able to do so. By your standards of determining what is or is not art by using the casual observer's abilities to find meaning, those realistic still lifes would not qualify!

There is nothing in Rand's definition to suggest it , nor does she state it in any of her subsequent writing on the subject. Someone who can see in a piece the" art" that is not apparent to the casual observer is coming from some position of pretense.

So, are you saying that Rand was coming from the position of pretense when classifying architecture, music and dance as valid art forms? After all, she could not objectively identify "artist's meanings" in those art forms. She said that architecture "does not re-create reality," that music doesn't currently have an objective "coneptual vocabulary" and must therefore be treated as a subjective matter. She never objectively identified subjects and artist's meanings in any real works of architecture, music or dance without having access to outside considerations. Are you saying that Objectivism' acceptance of those art forms as valid is pure pretension?

J

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Torres & Kamhi,

What Art Is:The Esthetic Theory of Ayn Rand , chapter 6 discusses Rand's definition and contrasts that with the nonessential definitions of art as provided by the 'artworld' in the mid 20th century, the era that labeled such works as soup cans as art , when in fact they are not

Are you appealing to authority? If so, I don't accept Kamhi and Torres as authorities, or anyone else. I only accept meritorious arguments.

Why do you believe that images of soup cans cannot be art according to Objectivism? Rand explained how a painting of an apple can qualify as art. Do you not grasp that the same principles apply to every other type of object, including soup cans?

Are there any other objects that you think could not possibly qualify as art if re-created in a painting? Is there a method or principle in action behind your opinions, or are certain paintings of certain objects just arbitrarily deemed to be non-art? Perhaps a still life painting of a bowl of carrots is legitimately art but a tin of carrots is somehow magically not legitimate art? Please help me to understand. I'm seeing no rhyme or reason to your ideas.

J

Edited by Jonathan13

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Based on that criteria then, recreation of the visual image of cans does not concretise any intelligible abstraction, therefore is not art.

Unless commercial billboards are considered to be art.

But you haven't shown that images of soup cans don't concretise intelligible abstractions. All you've shown is that you are apparently incapable of identifying intelligible abstractions in images of soup cans. You've begun with the assumption that you are a "casual observer." But we haven't objectively tested and proved that you are. For all we know, you may be much less than a "casual observer" -- you might have difficulty with visual phenomena and its means of conveying intellectual and emotional content. So, we can't just accept your rating or grading yourself, or your attempt to establish your own reactions to art, or lack thereof, as the naturally assumed standard of normalcy.

J

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Are you appealing to authority? If so, I don't accept Kamhi and Torres as authorities, or anyone else. I only accept meritorious arguments.

Why do you believe that images of soup cans cannot be art according to Objectivism? ideas.

J

you could google the chapter and see whether or not you think their points are valid, it seems they consider what I believe is your jusification for labeling art as an arguement from authority.

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But you haven't shown that images of soup cans don't concretise intelligible abstractions. All you've shown is that you are apparently incapable of identifying intelligible abstractions in images of soup cans. You've begun with the assumption that you are a "casual observer." But we haven't objectively tested and proved that you are. For all we know, you may be much less than a "casual observer" -- you might have difficulty with visual phenomena and its means of conveying intellectual and emotional content. So, we can't just accept your rating or grading yourself, or your attempt to establish your own reactions to art, or lack thereof, as the naturally assumed standard of normalcy.

J

you have not shown that the soup cans are 'art', how is it I should prove a negative

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you have not shown that the soup cans are 'art', how is it I should prove a negative

A can of soup is a man-made form of food. Food is that which sustains man's existence and makes his life possible. Man-made forms of food are aesthetically/symbollically Romantic because they represent man's volitionally choosing to use his reason to manufacture what he needs to thrive and not just rely on what exists as a given in nature, such as, say, apples. Therefore stylized drawings, paintings and silk-screenings of a cans of soup, such as those in Warhol's work, are Romantic expressions of man's volitional heroism.

And that's just the content of the symbolism. Style also communicates information. Warhol's style, for example, communicates clarity and a way of looking at things purely in essentials without superflous decorative elements.

Now, would you mind answering my earlier questions:

Why do you believe that images of soup cans cannot be art according to Objectivism? Rand explained how a painting of an apple can qualify as art. Do you not grasp that the same principles apply to every other type of object, including soup cans?

Are there any other objects that you think could not possibly qualify as art if re-created in a painting? Is there a method or principle in action behind your opinions, or are certain paintings of certain objects just arbitrarily deemed to be non-art? Perhaps a still life painting of a bowl of carrots is legitimately art but a tin of carrots is somehow magically not legitimate art? Please help me to understand. I'm seeing no rhyme or reason to your ideas.

J

Edited by Jonathan13

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I just scanned over the recommend post from last year, and basically I like Grames better than I thought I did.

Your emotional evaluation of Grames is irrelevant to our discussion. Do you have any answers to my questions? Do you have any rational, objective responses to the content of my arguments?

J

Edited by Jonathan13

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you could google the chapter and see whether or not you think their points are valid, it seems they consider what I believe is your jusification for labeling art as an arguement from authority.

So, you're saying that I should go and try to hunt for the point that you're trying to make by reading Kamhi and Torres? You can't just offer your own argument here?

I've read Kamhi and Torres. They make many good points and observations, but they also have a tendency to do what you've been doing on this thread: they smuggle in their own aesthetic limitations as the standard for judging what is or is not art -- they define the "casual observer" based solely on their own responses or lack thereof to art.

J

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I just started reading the Romantic Manifesto, so bear with me.

Objectivism defines art as "a re-creation of reality according to an artist's metaphysical value-judgments." Images of cans of soup are re-creations of things in reality, and no less so than any object in any still life which Objectivism accepts as art. They are stylized representations. They essentialize cans of soup in the same way that Rand described a painting of an apple essentializing the apple. The style that Warhol used presents the objects not as they are in reality, but as they "might or ought to be." They are stylisitically perfected and essentialized for the purpose of the expression of "metaphysical values."

What is the point of painting a can of soup? Why would a painter do that, and why would a person want to look at the painting or even buy it? Why not just directly look at a can of soup? According to Rand, "Art is the indispensable medium for the communication of a moral ideal." Ok.. what moral ideal is being presented in a painting of a can of soup?

2qu4qx3.jpg

I can't really say. I know I don't experience any joy looking at this picture. I also don't feel a heightened sense of emotion.. it seems almost meaningless to me, as I already know what a can of soup looks like and don't require anything further.

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I've read Kamhi and Torres. They make many good points and observations, but they also have a tendency to do what you've been doing on this thread: they smuggle in their own aesthetic limitations as the standard for judging what is or is not art -- they define the "casual observer" based solely on their own responses or lack thereof to art.

J

They gave the accepted standard of casual observer from the Italian Renaissance as being an educated layman.

Is an actual can of soup a work of art, if not how does recreating it make it so? A can of soup is a can of soup and the image of a can of soup is the image of a can of soup.

It's all I see, I'm limited, you've said so. I suppose there really is a specialised knowledge needed to fully appreciate art, not just pretension unwilling to admit a mistake.

It's possible I do not understand rand's aesthectics, but according to mine there needs to be some kind of cross cultural or universal aspect to the abstraction being concretised in a work of art. The specific example of the piece by Warhol could only be apprehended by an english speaking individual , so according to Tad it fails the test.

Edited by tadmjones

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The chat room in this forum has little icons , the emoticons, at the bottom of the page to pick from. The one furthest on the right is animated one, it shows atlas dropping the globe and going off for a beer. That conveys , to me, a tongue and cheek self effacement through ironic humor aimed at mankind in general. But I don't consider it a work of art.

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Perhaps nobody cares since this thread has gone off in an entirely different direction, but I wanted to point out that this thread: http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=24387 visually illustrates the question I was raising in my OP. ... Oh, yeah, and if we're taking a poll to find out who the casual observer is, put in one vote on the side of appreciating Andy Warhol. BTW, I find defining it as "casual observer from the Italian Renaissance" to be at least as pretentious as anything a proponent of modern art might say.

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They gave the accepted standard of casual observer from the Italian Renaissance as being an educated layman.

Is an actual can of soup a work of art, if not how does recreating it make it so? A can of soup is a can of soup and the image of a can of soup is the image of a can of soup.

It's all I see, I'm limited

You're probably not limited, you seem to have either higher or updated standards, or rightfully demand to touch the Emperor's Clothes before praising them; and your insistence on this particular issue proves you're 'open' to new understandings. Not that I love Andy Warhol that much... but enough to merit a defense.

When I first finished reading The Romantic Manifesto, I became very emotional about the subject as Ayn's explanation also 'clicked' very well. But by gaining understanding of some things, I temporarily lost appreciation of many thing I had once, at least moderately, admired.

Bear with me:

The image of a delicious orange painted in exquisite oil by a Flemish master like van Eycke, Rembrandt or Vermeer; maybe even accompanied by a candle and a sand clock, would constitute one or even two classical revered themes:

1) Definitely a Natura Morta (lit. dead nature, in English: still nature) in which we appreciate the orange.

2) or even a Memento Mori (Remember your mortality, your vain mortal flesh!) if the erotic sumptuousness of the orange is provocatively contrasted with the decaying flowers, the burning candle, or the inexorable pass of the sand through the timer.

And yet from the distance of time we only see a collection of inert meaningless objects painted in a gloomy light?

The orange* specifically was an international symbol of wealth, and fruit in general of eroticism and fertility. The technique was innovative for its time, particularly in its 'special effects' treatment of light.

The Matrimonio Arnolfini is neither a Memento Mori, or a Natura Morta, but incorporates elements of both, and every single detail on that already small canvas is deeply meaningful and symbolic of something else than the realistic newlywed couple posing in their new upper class home. It currently hangs at the National Gallery on Trafalgar Sq and in my opinion that small painting alone merits the entire palace.

A Campbell Canned Soup was never a luxury item, but the XX century, and current era, was/is not defined by elitism and exclusivity, but by the massive (people, markets, products, ways of production) and the 'inclusive' (for everyone)...

Notice that Warhol picked the iconic Campbell Soup, not another product, because Campbell used to be the Marilyn Monroe of Canned Soup.

Further notice the technique employed. Not a photograph, but a photocopy of a photocopy of an illustration. (I don't know the exact method, or care to explore it, but I do know he created that 'rough' but realistic style by experimenting with photocopies, and I'm almost certain about at least one of the Campbell Soup pieces).

Think of the symbolism of a photocopy, or mass illustration, correlated with the symbolism of mass production. Do you see the consistence with the symbolism of 'capturing a whole era and way of life'?

It's not different from Marilyn Monroe's piece, where he multiplies, 'massifies' the icon. An icon is something that is revered. Putting one next to the other betrays its lack of holy value (think of Socialist Countries and their portrays of die leader in every room), much like printing too much money, making too many copies of something, or your image being projected to many televisions at once, it is a devaluing by dilution experience.

Since both Canned Foods and Superstars came to achieve popularity by machine-like means such as the photocopy, the mass production factory, or the entertainment machine-like industry (TV!), the consistence in that segment of Andy Warhol's work is astounding and elevates him above forgotten experimenters.

Now don't make me explain and defend Pollock because I too have a limit, but I could, and I still think that Pollock has some value. But in order to redeem my previous bad comments on Rockwell, I'll post my favorite piece by him instead of an answer: connoisseur_rockwell.jpg

*Because the orange only grows in the Southernmost islands of Europe, other sources blocked by the Turks, it was expensive as any other luxury item. The Sicilian MAFIA has its origins in the century-spanning Citric Cartel, which show the relationship between regulated trade and organized crime. A current example would be soda pop stabilizer, Gum Arabic, with its criminal organization being the Government of Sudan. With the difference that Sicilians did not employ slavery or forced labour to harvest the oranges, whilst reports from the Sahel and its quota system harvest are... a slippery slope. Their system is more akin to Yemen and Oman in 50AD when slaves were sent to the disease-infested 'forests' to extract the myrrh/frankincense from the sap of the 'haunted' trees.

@Swerve of Shore: These things happen, maybe more often when I enter a thread. Still, please continue your original discussion maybe in that other thread. In my opinion one doesn't need to hate a style or piece of art to appreciate its opposite. I think there are plenty paradoxes and overlaps in reality which I respect in itself well above what is written about reality.

Edited by volco

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Further,

If Art is the successful transference of the artist's value judgements to the public, then (the then emerging medium of) film is objectively more effective than classic art media. As a downside of this package deal of technology-aided media blend, the public (or at least the mainstream public feedback, so far) has become desensitized to subtler expressions of art.

It seems which medium we're talking about when we refer to art matters more than we're giving proper consideration. But the harsh bottom line is that if I define art just as Ayn Rad did, but complete it with, the successful transference, then I am inserting both the issue of medium/technique and of the individual experience. The latter implies that 'art occurs' when the public (or more likely a portion of it starting with one) experiments, thinks, delights in certain concepts and sensations similar enough to the ones the artist intended (understands it, puts it together, feels it). If a piece of art is given or produced with the intention of giving too much, as in total, leeway of interpretation, then everything and nothing is art. Something like the worse of Conceptual Art or Pollock's paintings (not his, but the concept of abstract as depicted by Rockwell in The Connoisseur) is just as much art as a the beautiful cloud shapes of cumulus nimbus: that is, just playing with or profiting from human Apophenia in the same manner religions do. Which is what Ayn Rand calls fraud - and with reason.

Even 'desensitized' by two many good and bad movies, and rock bands, I, and youtube has proven that many people as well, still appreciate Baroque music. Quent Cordair, the galllery and its patrons, have proven that fine painting like admirable Bryan Larsen's and sculptures like Anjou's are still appreciated. (The millionaire auctions of Classic paintings don't prove the same, since it's impossible to separate the status symbol and antiquity/rareness value, from honest appreciation - and in less than heroic cases it would be hard to believe too).

If a work of art 'reaches' one or more individuals of the intended audience, in real honesty (as when the individual doesn't feel the need to share his or her appreciation to gain social status, but rather enjoys it in private, or feels the need to communicate it because it's affected one's life for the better or with great intensity that one needs to communicate it. Instead of remarking the beautiful nonexistent Emperor's new clothes, shining a light on a beggar's unnoticed but real and uniquely beautiful 'scarf'; so to speak)

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They gave the accepted standard of casual observer from the Italian Renaissance as being an educated layman.

Well, if we're going to be using "accepted standards" for aesthetics rather than objective ones, why don't we just abandon Objectivism in all regards and just go along with traditional "accepted standards" for everything?

Is an actual can of soup a work of art, if not how does recreating it make it so? A can of soup is a can of soup and the image of a can of soup is the image of a can of soup.

Is an apple a work of art, and if not then how does re-creating it make it so? Is a human a work of art?

Your argument now seems to have inadvertently become decidedly anti-Objectivist: you now appear to saying that you believe that art must not re-create reality because things from reality themselves cannot be art!

It's all I see, I'm limited, you've said so. I suppose there really is a specialised knowledge needed to fully appreciate art, not just pretension unwilling to admit a mistake.

It's possible I do not understand rand's aesthectics, but according to mine there needs to be some kind of cross cultural or universal aspect to the abstraction being concretised in a work of art.

Why would there need to be a universal aspect?

You seem to be starting with arbitrary desired outcomes, with the hope of making the concept of "art" conform to them. Wouldn't it make more sense to explore the nature of art without such biases -- begin with the question, "What is art, and how does it function, and not just to me and not just to all, but to all individuals who might experience what everyone else does not?"?

The specific example of the piece by Warhol could only be apprehended by an english speaking individual , so according to Tad it fails the test.

And Atlas Shrugged can only be comprehended by a person who speaks any language that it is written in, so therefore you're saying that it is not art. As a matter fact, you're saying that nothing is art.

J

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