An Investigation into Popular Art

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2006-06-01

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While Popular Art surrounds us, there have been few scholarly investigations of it. One reason for this is that accounts of Popular Art have not facilitated such investigations into Popular Art. I characterize a work as Popular Art based on the relationships that it bears to the influences that make up Popular Culture and other things that are associated with Popular Culture. By classifying the work according to the relationships that it bears to Popular Culture, my account provides us with a context of interpretation for the work. In doing so, I follow David Novitz and his traditional account of Popular Art whereby Popular Art is defined by its association with a certain tradition, namely the tradition of Popular Culture, but I do not follow his rejection of the role of formal traits since the fact that a distinction has a social source does not entail that the distinction has a social criterion as Novitz argues. I also follow Noel Carroll in attributing a central role to the accessibility of the work, but I associate that accessibility with a particular audience rather than general accessibility since the constitution of the audience is more important that the size of the audience. I do not follow Carroll in his attempt to treat accessibility as a necessary and sufficient condition for such a classification since it is important for the classification of a work as Popular Art to follow changes in Popular Culture and a Culture must be defined in terms of connection to the previous stages of the culture.

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