Like mountshang, I appreciate your making me aware of Armstrong. I will look for a copy of the book you mentioned.
I do actually agree that on a certain level that it really doesn't matter about what others think or perceive in regard to the art you make. It is every person's perogative to create what they themselves like and find enjoyable...worthwhile. This type of art is done outside of the 'art world' and not for comparison or scruntiny by those who are in it. I made this distinction as a art teacher..helping students do the best work they could, not with any intention of comparing them to a master artist. They were creating for individual enjoyment. It is a different application. I think, from the little of his writings you provided, that Armstrong is viewing all art
this way. He seems to be espousing lumping all art made by anyone into one category.
There is, however, a difference between 'Art'...as we consider those great works down through the ages....and what the little old lady down the street paints on weekends, the public school student creates in class, or some person has thrown together with no understanding of what they are doing and a result that shows it. It is an important distinction that gets lost in today's discussions about art. Perhaps some might see it as unfair to have such 'standards', but that is just recent politically correct thinking and lacking in logical or historical support.
The reason art is art is because we have always been able to distinguish it from something that wasn't art.
Therefore there is
that which is art and that which isn't
..despite the attempts to confuse the two. Now, we can remove those distinctions, but then what would be art...there is no defining it any more.
And though you say:
While itís important to protect the public from charlatans who would call themselves mechanics or doctors, when it comes to artists this really doesnít matter. We are all capable of forming judgements about the merits of their works.
The fact is it isn't true. Our present educational institutions don't teach student's not majoring in art how to appreciate a painting or a sculpture...and sometimes they don't teach the students that are majoring in art either. You give institutions and people too much credit for being able to intuitively understand a work of art.....or what isn't a work of art. Some do have that innate discerning eye...but is by no means commonplace. Personally I have witnessed in the course of my life too much ignorance of art to believe otherwise.
We may all have judgments, but they aren't all equal. I am not going to tell the neurosurgeon what he should be doing in the operating room and he shouldn't be instructing me...because we have different knowledge bases. Read the journal of Delacroix or writings of Rodin on art and sculpture, Robert Henri's, (and others) and you will realize that great art isn't a happy coincidence....it does conform to a science of sorts. It has definite innate rules that create pleasing or unpleasing convergences of lines, shapes, colors, etc.... It isn't just something you walk up to and instantly understand or know how to do.
This is part of why it is
important, in my opinion, that we do keep the charlatans from being given blanket acceptance. If the world you write about existed it would be different.....there we could rely upon everyone to keep each other honest because everyone would
know the difference...but that isn't the world we live in.