1927 – Brancusi Trial! Waite: What do you call this? Steichen: I use the same term the sculptor did, oiseau, a bird. Waite: What makes you call it a bird, does it look like a bird to you? Steichen: It does not look like a bird but I feel that it is a bird, it is characterized by the artist as a bird. Waite: Simply because he called it a bird does that make it a bird to you? Steichen: Yes, your honor. Waite: If you would see it on the street you never would think of calling it a bird, would you? [Steichen: Silence] Young: If you saw it in the forest you would not take a shot at it? Steichen: No, your honor.Constantin BrancusiBird in Space1928
1927 – Brancusi Trial! Speiser: Now, Mr. Aitken would you mind stating why this (Exhibit 1) is not a work of art? Aitken: First of all I might say it has no beauty. Speiser: In other words, it aroused no aesthetic emotional reaction in you? Aitken: Quite no. Speiser: You would limit your answer exclusively to the fact that so far as you are concerned it does not arouse any aesthetic emotional reaction? Aitken: Well, it is not a work of art to me. Speiser: That is the sole reason you assign for it? Aitken: It is not a work of art to me.Constantin BrancusiBird in Space1928
Brancusi:I conceived it to be created in bronze and I made aplaster model of it. This I gave to the founder,together with the formula for the bronze alloy andother necessary indications. When the roughcastwas delivered to me, I had to stop up the air holesand the core hole, to correct the various defects,and to polish the bronze with files and very fineemery. All this I did myself, by hand; this artisticfinishing takes a very long time and is equivalent tobeginning the whole work over again. I did not allowanybody else to do any of this finishing work, as thesubject of the bronze was my own special creationand nobody but myself could have carried it out tomy satisfaction.Constantin BrancusiBird in Space1928
Judge Waite:“The object now under consideration . . . is beautifuland symmetrical in outline, and while some difficultymight be encountered in associating it with a bird, itis nevertheless pleasing to look at and highlyornamental, and as we hold under the evidence thatit is the original production of a professional sculptorand is in fact a piece of sculpture and a work of artaccording to the authorities above referred to, wesustain the protest and find that it is entitled to freeentry. “Constantin BrancusiBird in Space1928
ART, NATURE, AND ARISTS• Marcia Muelder Eaton, Basic Issues in Aesthetics (1988):• “A rock can become a work of art only if someone - an artist - is responsible (at least in part) for the ways it looks.• “Only if someone works on a rock can it become a piece of sculpture.”• “The actual work done can be minimal . . .
“Artifact”Oxford English Dictionary:• ‘artifact’ = ‘an artificial product,’• ‘artificial’ = ‘opposed to natural,’ ‘made by or resulting from art or artifice.’• ‘Artifice’ = ‘the action of an artificer’• artificer = ‘craftsman,’ or ‘one who makes by art or skill.’• ‘art’ = ‘human skill as the result of knowledge and practice.’Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary:• ‘artifact’ = ‘something created by humans, usually for a practical purpose.’
Art as Artifact I If object “o” is an artwork “o” is an artifact All works of art are artifacts. Art objects and landscapes (natural objects) can both be beautiful, but “natural objects” are not works of art. Not all artifacts are works of art.
Art as Artifact II When we say that all works of art are artifacts, we are using the term “artifact” in the traditional restrictive sense. It indicates that it is something manmade or handmade. E.g. Leonardo’s Mona Lisa, or traditional sculptures such as Michelangelo’s Pietà.
Art as Artifact III• The traditional restrictive sense of “artifact” is challenged by 20th century and contemporary artists.• Think: what can we do? 1. deny that all artworks are artifacts 2. Redefine the meaning of “artifact” as objects that are reasonably related to an artistic intention or tradition.
Contemporary Art: How have these artworks challengedthe notion of “artifact” in the traditional sense?
think about the following works in terms of the artist’s intention, the communicative potentials of the works, and the audiences’ responses. CREATION SELECTION SPECIFICATION ALL THE THINGS I KNOW BUT OF WHICH I AM NOT AT THE MOMENT THINKING - 1:36PM; JUNE 15, 1969J. M. W. Turner, Rain,Steam and Speed, 1844 Robert Barry, 1969 Marcel Duchamp, In Advance of the Broken Arm, 1917