“If all Rockwell did was paint exactly what was on a photo then it wouldn’t be ART.”
I don’t agree. Granted, it would be a lower form of art to exactly reproduce nature. Also, if it was done for the purposes of journalism, then it wouldn’t be art at all. Of course, the line between journalism is sometimes fine. I’ve heard “The Gulag Archipeligo” refered to as a work of journalism, whereas I think it is a grand work of literature.
The thing is, it’s almost impossible to recreate nature exactly as it is. Even bad artists can’t help putting themselves in the picture, so to speak. Your introduction of intent is important, and I think almost conclusive. Except I would have to add that sometimes people produce high art by accident.
My definition of art is that it is uniquely identified to the artist. This works in music as well as the graphic arts. When you see a Rockwell, you know its a Rockwell; same works for Miles Davis. Originality is what we celebrate. There have been millions upon millions of paintings painted, but how is it we all recognize the greatness of just a few artists? Being an artist is defining yourself as unique and identifiable. Its just that simple. It usually takes an artist a lifetime to achieve this. Ofen it is not recognized in their lifetimes. But if it meets the time test standard, you usually can be sure it is great.