The distinction between good art and bad art is a fair one to make. But art isn't necessarily what you can buy nor is good art necessarily what looks pretty.
My simple definition of (good) art has to do with form and content. That is, what it looks like and what the artist is trying to say. "Good" art will have something to say that relates to how it looks. Often the better art will be unique in both these areas.
My parents loved New England landscape painting: i.e. the pretty white house and the red barn and mountains behind it. Usually, this is schlocky stuff because the meaning in always the same (it's a pretty New England landscape) and the form is always the same. When done by a master, even such local "masters" as Luigi Lucioni or Andrew Wyeth, the works take on a depth and poignancy that is different from what you'd buy at an art fair. That's what makes these works better works.
I wrote a while back about why Christo's Gates were great art. Look for my postings and you'll find my longer essay about it. But, in short, it is definitely art (and terrific art at that) because it is saying something new and making us see that in a new way. Much of his art has to do with perception and experience. And walking through those gates and seeing the light fall on that warm saffron color and seeing them continue in a royal procession ahead of me was one of the best experiences in this year, and perhaps one of my best experiences in art in my life (and I've seen a lot of great works in person).
Here's where we will always diagree. The artist's message is totally irrelevant to the question of "will that look good above my sofa or out in my garden"
If it doesn't look good it isn't art
I don't give a flying leap about what the artist wants to say. I care no more for his opinions and ideas than I'd care for the opinions and ideas of the neighborhood kid who mows my lawn. I am paying him to provide a product and the value of the product is determined solely by whether it looks good to me.
... That's what makes these works better works.
And why are they really better works? because they look better to the buyer.
I wrote a while back about why Christo's Gates were great art.
And here we'd definately disagree. Gates was pollution. no more visually attractive than democrat protest signs during the million(?) man march.
And walking through those gates and seeing the light fall on that warm saffron color and seeing them continue in a royal procession ahead of me was one of the best experiences in this year,...
Walking through the changing leaves during the fall is a far better experience than walking through some guy's cast off drapes.
So here we run into the basic problem with the art world. One man's art is another man's garbage. Only the buyer can determine what is art and what is garbage because only the buyer is willing to put his money where his mouth is.
One other point. Anything funded by tax dollars (no matter how pretty) is not art. It is theft and waste of resources. Art is always funded privately and takes nothing by force from anyone.