I read Mona Lisa's Moustache for the book review and the author, Mary Settegast, did not try to answer the question of "what is art", but rather discuss why there isn't a definition and why she doesn't believe that one can ever be reached.
The world has witnessed drastic change within the last hundred years or so. There has been an apparent breakdown of structure and form within every aspect of life. People dress differently, worship differently, and interact differently. Therefore, Settegast finds it obvious and understandable that no solidified definition of art has been obtained because even some of the simplest things in life have no solid definition.
Mary Settegast interweaves art with the breakdown of other aspects of life to explain why it would be difficult and negative to set out to build new boundaries by definition of everything.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s specifically, the boundaries between high culture and pop culture continued to dissolve, as did the boundaries between categories of art. Today’s art world tries to be defined or characterized by the “exuberant use of all modes to explode any and all definitions of a genre”. With virtually no restriction on methods or materials, wacky exploitation of methods and materials, especially with modern art, continue to mock and sabotage any attempt to distinguish art into formal categories, let alone try to find a formalized definition.
None of the revolutionary artists that have come before us originally set out to change the world. They each just simply worked and questioned boundaries to find truth of individuality through their art. With that came artistic change. The dissolution of the boundaries that used to exist in the world is actually opening up opportunity for self-realization. The forms of art that have evolved are a pattern of movement and change that is necessary.
Does anyone agree with Settegast? Does the breakdown of boundaries across the board a valid reason for why art is not definable?