Art is Art and Non-art as well as Non-art is Art and Non-art

One can find many ways to approach the distinction between art and non-art, but will always fail to a certain extent. This distinction simply tries to provide labels for a particular project or practice that might have been intended to be artistic or non-artistic.

In my view, non-artistic projects tend to produce some specific emotional and intellectual response. For instance a random advertisement might intend to produce curiosity, which will later be satisfied. This ad might be composed in regard to several artistic aspects and practices.

Fine art, on the contrary, rather follows the intention to give people material to create their own thoughts and emotions – to irritate and question the status quo. But first, arts can also intend nothing. As they framed it in former days: L’art pour l’art.

Most important is the fact that there is no sharp boundary to be drawn. Fine art can have political, emotional, and intellectual implications, as well as non-artistic projects and practices can have artistic aspects and intentions and vice versa. Ad Reinhardt nailed it: »The one thing to say about art is that it is one thing. Art is art-as-art and everything else is everything else. Art-as-art is nothing but art. Art is not what is not art.«

Ad Reinhardt: »Art-as-Art Dogma,« (1964) part II, in: Abstract Expressionism: Creators and Critics, ed. Clifford Ross, New York 1990, pp. 150–158, p. 152