The Fallacy of Allowing Public Access to Art to Define It
The only downside of public access to art is when the individual reaction to what is being presented as a work of art is lost in a sea of viewers. This cumulative summation is then used to define art. The peanut gallery doesn't get to tell the surgeon how to cut, but damned if we don't let them define art by wind and whim.
This is especially sad when the museumgoer is a child who is accompanied by a self-labeled art "critic" or "historian." Watch people who view art in museums or even in a small gathering of dinner guests as a work of art is presented. With the rare exception, everyone looks around. Their eyes jut left and right away from the painting, sculpture, or photograph. Why?
Peer pressure. It's that simple. They know whether or not they like it or would call it art, but they don't believe they know. If more people around the individual viewer like a painting, the individual who doesn't will often alter his/her opinion, though not his/her perception. Perception is not going to change.
A creative work either lights up a particular part of the brain or it doesn't. Not even art education (drawing/painting classes, art history, and/or art appreciation) can alter how the brain responds to a work. Particular parts of the brain also light up in response to social pressure, compliance, and the need to belong or the need to stand out. This, of course, has nothing to do with whether a particular work is art or not. If even one other viewer is willing to say they don't like it, so might our individual viewer, even if s/he was initially enthralled. But if everyone says they don't like it, the individual will question his/her own opinion to the point of changing it. The museum experience is therefore, for many viewers, chameleon-esque.
The Fallacy of Assessed Calm versus Artistic Passion
Dear Young People: Don't listen to someone who speaks so tamely about a passionate subject as does President Botstein about art. Calm, cool, and collected is what you want from your neurosurgeon, your bus driver, and your childcare worker. These attributes have no place in the world of art and in fact are highly suspect when coupled with art. Speaking calmly about the definition of art not only indicates a lack of talent and/or appreciation; it also speaks of a seething underbelly of resentment toward those who have both. When an "artist" or "art expert" speaks to you about art in a reserved manner, you are hearing a charlatan.