|I'm going to draw a line here, too, because I think there is a definite problem with ~communication~, and yes, we are probably talking past one another.|
First of all, I know what the fundamental nature of art is. My use of the word "craft" on ~other~ occasions is not meant to denigrate art---any more than it is to denigrate writing, my chosen field. "Craft" simply implies: "to create with consummate skill and careful attention to detail," and it pertains to a wide variety of man-made objects, the arts included. Nobody here is arguing that this is the ~essence~ of art, because if it were, then ~everything~ would be art---and as others have argued here, the very word would lose its meaning. (All the more reason to be very careful about what we see as constitutive of that concept.)
I think you're being very unfair, Michael, to say that for Sciabarra, "art to him is a chair." I was referring to the fact that many wooden chairs from the Middle Ages have remarkable sculptures in them---hand-crafted designs of human figures and angels and what-not---and I made the comparative statement that I'd take ~that~ chair as art "over almost ~anything~ in the Museum of Modern Art," which has taken to displaying cow dung or human excrement on walls and calling it "art." Believe me: I know what art is. And what it isn't.
I was simply suggesting that some things that are ~not~ art, per se, e.g., that medieval chair, can have artistic elements in them. Even "photography," which Rand rejected as art per se, can have artistic elements in it. But that doesn't make it ~art~ per se. So too with architecture: some of it embodies Rand's definition of art (and I would hope that we're clear to distinguish between, say, the architecture of the Acropolis and the box design of Joe's Deli and the row of stores up the block from me). But there is a tension in Rand's discussion that has not been resolved to my satisfaction.
I know that "the fine arts deal primarily with the communication a whole soul’s take on the meaning of the universe." Insofar as I respond to music, literature, and other art forms, I am responding precisely on that very deep level. I know what inspires me, what moves me to tears, and I have great respect for those who are genuine artists, and who so move me, and who reach my soul in a way that is unrepeatable.
Rand offered no ~philosophic~ analysis of architecture. She presented her views of the spiritual nature of creation in her moving portrait of architect Howard Roark, and it is one of the most profound pictures of human creativity that I've ever read. But it is not a ~philosophic~ analysis of architecture and its place in the broader Objectivist aesthetic theory.
She fully recognized that architecture combined "art with a utilitarian purpose." But she also maintains in THE ROMANTIC MANIFESTO that "utilitarian objects cannot be classified as works of art."
So, in her only mention of architecture in any ~philosophic~ (nonfictional) context, she introduces a seeming ambiguity. Forget the Binswanger stuff, which is relevant to me, but is not relevant to you. A is A. You cannot claim that utilitarian objects are non-art and THEN claim that architecture, despite its utilitarian purpose, ~is~ art... unless you somehow revise the definition of art or reject the characterization of architecture as art.
And if, by chance, you can present a way of transcending this as a false alternative---something that would appeal wonderfully to my dialectical sensibilities: GREAT! The reason I said "I don't know" on this question is because I, myself, have not found a way to transcend this tension in Rand's statements and to navigate to a comfortable conclusion. I haven't thought about this question all that much---and that's why I was genuinely appreciative of those who ~have~ thought about it in their formal writings, e.g., Torres & Kamhi AND Peter Cresswell, even if the conclusions they draw are diametrically opposed.
That does not mean that I don't appreciate the grandeur of architecture, or that I'm a "philistine." I've spent the bulk of my professional life making intellectual ~decisions~ about such things as Rand's intellectual roots, dialectical method, and even her attitudes toward sexuality. I had the intellectual honesty and integrity to say: I don't know---with regard to the status of architecture as art. And yet, I'm now called "indecisive" and a "philistine" on SOLO HQ.
I'm open to discussion on all this. But conversation pretty much ceases with name-calling.