Yes, art can be defined. but watch the context, the cultural and historical period. Art or arts ? Which art ?
See also Horace, the Roman poet. See also craft ( as in 19th. c. ” Arts and crafts” ) . etc. Clear the decks.
Or are we attempting a definition in this 21 st. c. ?
Where we do the defining is also important. eg. Take Ireland and, say, the contemporary art of composed music.
Why do I insist that in Ireland still today there is hardly a concept, a definition, even the possibility of defining composed musical works – composed by Irish composers – as art, indeed as Irish art, an art on a level with eg. Irish poetry, film, painting etc.
What are the causes of this blindness, this prejudice, this exclusion of this definition ? Are they dogmatic ? Is it lazy thinking? Could it be lack of experiencing New Irish Music, is that it ? Mull this over.
There have in the past been many definitions of art, of musical composition. It´s also worth reflecting a moment on some of the things we still today may define composing music as:
it is sicut fumus, like smoke, ethereal. It is a temporal art, indeed THE time-art par excellence. Time-bending, stretching, sculpting, stitching, overlapping, deluding, defying, conquering. ( See Rosenstock´s ” Buailim bob ar bhás! ” ) Composing is hope, utopian, mythic, fighting the good fight. If “cinis aequat omnia”, still a Frank Corcoran composition will yell and shout and erect its own resistance to Montague´s ” Sea of history / Upon which we all turn / Turn and thrash / And disappear… ” Music keens, protests, praises a fightin´ transcendence which potentially lives beyond the grave.
Certainly, music can be defined. Art can be defined.
Irish contemporary music fights for its place in defining Ireland, Irish art, Irish artists.