Throughout our learning, so far, Scharfstein has maintained that artistic preferences are subjective to the individual. As many of us have agreed, there is not a set standard for what can be considered art and what is not. Yet can it be agreed that some art is "higher"or more representative of a body of art than others? Not that any art is necessarily considered less or more than another work of art, but that some pieces have a more lasting impact on art as a whole, because of originality in style, composition, subject matter, and among other characteristics of art.
In the academic world, there is what is known as a Literary Canon. It classifies Literature into literature with a lowercase "l" and Literature with an uppercase "L." "Literature" is any work that has a lasting impact on society. This work's style, theme, and/or originality have set standards or are valuable testaments to the expression of the language in which it is written. On the other hand, "literature" is a work, that while may be enjoyable, it's effects on the realm of Literature and society are limited or very minute, if there are any contributions at all. Its what determines what authors and literary works I read in class. In simpler terms, I may enjoy reading Harry Potter, however, Shakespeare's unique utilization of the English language creates a more vivid expression of the richness of our language. And so far, the novels I have studied, delivered very clear messages and details about the thoughts of the author and insight into a time period in which I have limited knowledge. They also generally epitomize the Literary style and movement of the time. Sometimes it encompasses the components of several Literary movements and styles. In simpler terms, I may enjoy reading Harry Potter, however, Shakespeare's unique utilization of the English language creates a more vital expression of the richness of our language.
Scharfstein seems to say something similar of art. "Because all things done or made have aesthetic aspects, they can all be looked on as at least the raw material for art, or as art in a latent state. Anything done or made that in any way prolongs or accentuates its aesthetic aspects is art at least in a weak sense. As a term of praise, "art" is usually reserved for acts or works whose embodied aesthetic experience is especially concentrated, imaginative, or compelling" (87)
Does this mean that there is work that is more representative of a body of art (hierarchy)? I myself am an art major, and I always find myself wondering why certain artists are considered pioneers in their realm. Are there some works that are more deserving of a place in an art museum than others? Although I may not prefer their work, should I recognize that a piece by Picasso is higher in the artistic hierarchy than perhaps Cedric Cox, who paints colorful images inspired by Over-the-Rhine in Cincinnati, in a cubist like style?
The good thing about being able to have a hierarchy is that when looking at the body of work artists have compiled throughout the course of human history, there is such a diversity of styles, subject matter, and compositions, that we are able to recognize the diversity with which cultures and individuals express themselves through art.
Or perhaps what Scharfstein is saying is that art is what is concentrated, imaginative, or compelling to the individual. Yet if that is so, than why are there art museums? Im sure some very simple drawings done by young children are filled with as much emotion as a sculpture by Michelangelo.