A literal and physical question to “what is art?” can be examined when comparing this question to the piece by René Magritte’s, This Is Not a Pipe.
Discussions have begun with looking at this lithograph and arguing if the image of a pipe counts as being a pipe or if it is simply an image of a pipe. Additionally, the word “pipe” is displayed. Is that a pipe or is it just the word pipe written down? What is a pipe? Is it only the physical object or can it be an image of it or the word written down as well?
Now let’s examine “art”.
Do you consider paintings on wall art? Are the sculptures in the MET art? Is the wallpaper you put on your computer screen art? Is a seven year old’s crayon drawing of a tree art? What about the picture their mom posted on Facebook of it? Are the pictures artists post of their pieces on Instagram art?
Magritte wanted us to question not only what a pipe is but also have us play with the idea of what is real and what is not. When asking the question “what is art?”, one must also examine the complexity and simplicity of the question. If one were to answer this question they could say art is the physical work but then they would have to think about how digital art can be classified. Furthermore, one could say art is anything one says it is but then they would run into the problem of almost everything being art with that statement.
Art is defined in various ways and is interpreted in multiple ways. When answering the question one must be open to studying different takes on this question as well as many perspectives.