The proper response should be: Heck if I know!
Art is so subjective that its impossible to create a definition of "art" that everyone agrees with. Is it purely aesthetic? Does it have to communicate something? Does the message have to be recieved by the viewer? Does it require skill to be made? There are tons of questions that could be answered tons of different ways; I don't need to elaborate further.
However, even if there is no universal definition of what is "art," I can still give my own opinion. An artist without some sort of idea of what they believe they are creating is a sad sight...and one we usually make fun of in art school.
So, to me, "art" can be defined by having met several requirements and by having certain qualities:
1. It does NOT have to be purely aesthetic. Art can be musical, it can be performed, it can be written and read, or it can be looked at.
2. There should be something communicated, or there should be an intent to communicate, through the work of art. This "something" may be an idea or an emotion. For instance, a naturalistic reproduction of, lets say, a banana, just for the sake of hanging on the wall and impressing your friends when they come over, is not what I would consider "communication." I would consider it pure demonstration of skill, and therefore, would call it a "craft," not an "art." On the other hand, I would consider a painting of hundreds of bananas surrounding me, ready to attack, to be a work of art possibly attempting to communicate the idea that bananas are purely evil, or the feeling that they are driving me insane. Whether its art thats worth looking at is debatable, but so are a lot of things.
3. It does not have to be pretty. I don't care to judge whether or not something is a piece of art simply because the artist does or does not have talent. What I would really like to call in for judgment is the thought process behind the art. In other words, why does it exist?
4. The intended communication does not have to be recieved by the viewer. The fact of the matter is, most people are too thick to interpret a work of art just by what they see in front of them. I am including myself in the word "most." Some ideas are easy enough to understand, but some are riddled with metaphors, hidden well, or simply communicated badly. Does this mean the ideas or emotions aren't there? No. It just means the work of art may or may not be as successful as the artist would have hoped, or that the viewer isn't up to the task of interpreting. Success is another subject for another day.
I believe thats pretty much it. "Art" can be made of many mediums, it must intend to communicate, and it doesn't have to be pleasing to the eye or mind. Number two seems to be the most important factor in differentiating between "art" and "craft."
Please, if you have your own ideas, leave a comment.
Now the only question left to be asked about "art" is what constitutes a work of art as complete bull crap or something actually worth stopping and looking at. The world may never know.
And I leave you with a work of my own.
charcoal on 24" x 36"