Art and Fashion Unpacked

Topics: Art, Aesthetics, Visual arts Pages: 8 (2544 words) Published: November 1, 2012
Literature Review

Fashion as art; is art Fashion?
* Sanda Miller

“Like art, clothes can provide the subject of historical research.”

According to the reader by Miller, fashion, like architecture fulfills primarily a functional dimension. This is said with art being something of display, admiration and in some cases personal relation. Art being something decorative and less functional than clothing, because clothes can be worn, but avante garde fashion is where the differentiation between art and fashion becomes a grey area purely because no average human being that wears clothes only for covering the body, some more on trend than others, will wear avante garde wear in the streets.

Art is described as a “fuzzy concept”, because of the various art forms and the indefinite description of what exactly is seen as art. Stated by Wilson 1985:3 , fashion is explored as a “cultural phenomenon, as an aesthetic medium for the expression of ideas , desires and beliefs circulating in society”. Humankind feels the need for expressing and belonging and through fashion, an identity is communicated and people are categorized by society. The level and extent of expression through clothes is linked to the confusion of fashion being art, because of the unusual items and garments worn by some. “Society is the necessary context for fashion”. This statement proves that in order for fashion to evolve, be reinvented and expanded, the criticism, expression and categorization of society is in deed necessary.


Ludwig Wittgenstein states that instead of looking for logical definitions, we should establish “family resemblances” between the discrete art entities. In the conclusion by Dickie, “ the parade of dreary and superficial definitions that had been presented was for a variety of reasons eminently rejectable” He describes a work of art as either a artifact or a set of aspects of which has been conferred upon in the status of candidate for appreciation by some person or persons acting on behalf of a certain institution – The art world. Even though “the art world” was a new concept, Dickie states that it was not cinvented by Duncham, because it had been an existing institutional device, used in an unusual way and the art world had been there all along. (Dickie 1992 : 438)

Institutional theories of art are very comprehensive and they do not answer “pressing questions” such as :” must all art emerge from a pre-existing network of social relations? Does it appear to be informative? etc. (Miller, 1998, 29) Art being a way of expression and communication through visual creation, same as fashion, can not be classified as only one thing with one certain message, because it depends on each individual expressing themselves through either art, fashion or both.

Art is definedin terms of it’s historical and theoretical framework – that is it’s institutionalization is accomplished at an abstract level. When looking at the Brillo Box by Andy Warhol and how it relates to art, it is a certain theory of art that’s related. The theory and background of the object connects it to the world of art, and keeps it from falling into the “object” category which in actual fact it is, It is a box for soap pads, but the argument of it being a unique form of creation and design, is what keeps it in the “art world”. Without the theoretical knowledge, it is unlikely that the viewer will classify it as an artwork.

“Something is an artwork if it is intended to support some well precedented art regard.” (Carroll 1999: 241)

“it connects candidates to the history of art.
(Carroll 1999: 241)

“sometimes the mere fact that an artifact can be used to serve a historically acknowledged function suffices to call an object art, irrespective of the original creator’s intention” (Carroll 1999: 249)

According to Miller, both the “Institutional Theory of art” and the “Historical Definition of Art” are proved inconclusive. An alternative...
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