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Is Design an Art

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To be considered "art" something need only be picked out by the art world as art to be viewed or experienced under whatever theory then dominates the art world. We are not dealing with the essences here, any more than we are dealing with essences when we, say, designate an overturned box to be a chair. Being a chair does not designate an essence; it involves what we choose to do with the thing” 6. Marcel Duchamp’ s famous “ Fountain” , the image is presented in Exhibit A, illustrates the institutional theory of art very clearly.

Duchamp did not even design or produce the urinal, he just signed it R. Mutt and presented it as an artwork. However, although initially rejected, it is viewed and experienced as art by the art world, not as a urinal. Thus, Duchamp showed that picking anything as an artwork can be sufficient to be considered as such. If we accept the non-essentialism of the institutional theory of art, anything, including design, can be a work of art, if it is viewed as art. Nevertheless, the institutions of art usually exclude designs of designers as artworks.

Hence, although the design may theoretically be regarded as art, as well as among many other things, according to institutional theory of art, the works of designers are not viewed as artworks by the art world. The cultural niche theory of art is very similar to the institutional theory of art in a sense that it is also non-essentialist; however, it rejects the tautological understanding of institutional theory i. something is art if it is viewed as art. Instead, the cultural niche theory stresses the importance of cultural setting and argues that context determines if an object is an art and its type.

Josephson illustrates this point as follows: “ If the image of the Mona Lisa is hung in a museum, it is surely Fine Art. If it is sold on a T-shirt in a clothing store it loses its high aesthetic value and gains a decorative joke value, thus counting as Design Art since it is a decoration on a T-shirt. It could be used as an advertising image or as a mass-media Popular Art image as well.    

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