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Thursday, December 12, 2002

There's Nothing "Objective" About Art


By Kirk Hughey

I found the article by Andrew Eaton in the Scotsman on the Turner Prize very poorly wrought.

Some problematic examples: informal fallacy, the argument ad hominem:

"Saatchi did call the shortlist "pseudo-controversial rehashed claptrap", but the man is a self-publicist with his own agenda."

He offers informal fallacy, argument from authority:

"A lot of people - teachers, curators, critics, funding bodies - have to agree something is art before it can get nominated for an award such as the Turner Prize. Unless all these people are conspiring to make fools of us, thatís a pretty convincing consensus."

Contradicted by: refutation of argument from authority:

".....a lot of professional art critics hated the Turner Prize exhibition, but just because the majority think something doesnít mean it is right."

"Many of historyís most groundbreaking artists have found themselves shunned by the majority." True, except in most cases they were shunned by a majority of an offical establishment-in this case the Turner jury represents the official establishment.

I, for one, am perfectly willing to admit anything into the category "art" that comes into being to evoke response. But being art doesn't necessarily imply that something has value. I know of no objective way to discern the value of a particuliar work of art and neither does anyone else. If someone finds no value in it that response need not be maligned as long as they don't deny anyone else the right to value it.

As for the use of the word "Philistine" -can we finally put that dead horse to rest? I've always thought name-calling was the last resort of a weak argument.


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