Artification is mostly approached from a contextualist perspective where “art” refers to objects that are presented and appreciated within socially recognized art institutions. Artification then means that the notion of art is extended to non-art areas. Yet it can be argued that contextualism is circular, since it starts with an unquestioned assumption about what art is. Another weakness of contextualism is that by privileging theory it tends to downplay the role of creative and appreciative practices. Alternative approaches are possible, and this article explores in a preliminary way what a naturalist approach could mean for how we see art and artification processes. The naturalist approach developed here considers the arts first of all as cultural practices that evolve together with discourse, but where discourse is not privileged over practice. As Wittgenstein suggested, understanding (and skillfully practicing) any art is about socially mediated, long-term engagement. By analyzing the evolutionary and onto-genetic origins of art and its function in all human cultures, and by describing the criteria of art as a cluster, naturalism opens the border between art and non-art. With naturalism, we can ask whether some of the changes described as artification allow us to recognize art outside institutionally legitimized art worlds. It allows us to ask to what extent something is art; it provides a perspective where phenomena can be studied case by case; and it re-introduces the relevance of evaluative criteria in the process of identifying or recognizing art.

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