I think I have art history all figured out. I'll tell you where we are right now, or rather where future historians will say we were. Its like this. The way art history comes across to me is it starts out very limited. Painting and sculpting is art, and slowly but surely other things become art as well. Then modern art comes and post modern and now its to the point where anything can be art and its up to the viewer as to wether they are perceiving art and its up to the maker of the thing or idea or situation as to weather they are making art. So where does this leave us? Well it leaves me asking the question what's the point of the idea of art at all? And it has me answering this question by saying, "the point is creativity." Creativity can manifest itself in any situation in life. Its lateral thinking. Its seeing the whole picture and recognizing similarities of patterns between two seemingly different things. So what does it take to be a good artist? Can a painter be less of an artist than a stay at home mom who doesn't paint or draw but only takes care of her children? This sounds like a weird question, but stick with me. I would argue "yes."
A painter could be well trained and know all the proper techniques and what sorts of subject matters and poses are thought of to be beautiful and he may hardly have to think creatively at all but just go through the process and produce an elegant piece of "art." But tradition guided him the whole way through to completing his objective. As for the mom, what if it's her first time being a mother and she has little guidance. She knows more or less what the child needs to survive and grow up and be healthy, but lets say she's naturally a very creative person and she uses that creativity to make the right decisions that bring up this child to be a happy and integral part of society. Her audience was partly the child and partly the world in which the child will grow up in and be a part of and she has, in this situation, an intimate relationship with her audience through her "art."
So its all about ethics then too, huh? Yeah. Can a work of art be created that in the end is destructive to those around it and life as a whole? Well, I don't know. I would say, no, but I would say, lets stop using the word "art," if at all possible. Its probably not possible though. The real question is the question of purpose. What is the purpose of a painting which hangs in a house who's only purpose is to be looked at, hanging there on the wall. Its purpose is decoration and this is as noble a purpose as any I'd say. Is it only decoration? Of course not, but no matter what type of artist we're talking about, a piece can always be looked into on a deeper level to evoke other feelings and thoughts. These thoughts may be about the artist's experiences and thoughts about the world or the culture the painting was created in or any kind of commentary the work might be making. But this can come about from any act of creativity. If you can think of a situation where no creativity is possible, that's only because your mind hasn't solved that particular puzzle, and that's where the creativity comes into play.
Let's think of an example. People might have said at one point that shoe design can't be a place for creativity. You just need something to keep your feet safe from stepping on stones. You need some laces so the shoes will stay on, but look at shoes today. There are all kinds of different shoes. This is due to competition. Competition requires creativity. Competition use to be mostly a matter of who was the fastest and had the strongest muscles, but now its, more than ever, a matter of who has the strongest brain, and since the brain is capable of creativity there's no holding it back.
So where is art today? Art history tells me that today we are all artists because we are all required to think creatively. In most any situation there's a way you can break the rules of tradition and get a better outcome than you would have if you just stuck with them. Its a matter of always being on your toes and having your brain on. Life keeps moving. If you want to be alive you need to understand that you get some sleep once a night and even then you're thinking. There's no rest. There's no getting to a comfortable point. Enjoy it. Roll with the punches. Be an artist however you know how to be an artist, but always remember the point of it all is to enjoy the company of your fellow humans.