A Taxonomy of Art

The Domain (or Super kingdom) for all art is the Symbolic Object. If something is not considered both symbolic and an object (in some way) then it can't rightly be considered as Art (see Aspects page).

This definition of the domain is comparable to the two biological "Super kingdoms" of Prokaryotae and Eukaryotae, under which there are usually considered to be five kingdoms (Bacteria, Protista, Fungi, Plants, and Animals) when considering "life on Earth" instead of art, for example.

(Vehicles, in the arena of transportation, is another example of a Super Kingdom. A taxonomy of types of vehicles would relate to this one in similar ways.)

So that this Taxonomy could be maximally inclusive for descriptive purposes, the distinction between art and almost-art is ignored here (for the distinction, see the Reasons page). Therefore, things that might not typically be considered art (such as an enticing meal, or perfume) appear along-side Michelangelo's David for comparison. (The art and almost-art distinction is discussed elsewhere on this site.)

A Taxonomy of Art Chart

The Taxonomy of Art chart takes the full width of a page, and may be seen here:

Note 1: Like most taxonomies, this one can bend a little without breaking. Obviously it is nowhere near complete. As with any taxonomy of anything complicated, actually completing the chart could involve making millions of entries (and resolving many, usually intractable disputes). So I leave it unfinished.

Note 2: Since an artist can choose to contribute anything, it might be best when drawing up a taxonomy to not mention "artist name" in a separate column, but rather only as part of the reference to a particular art-object, but historically artists have tended to remain within a genre for a period of time, and their contributions are considered as a notable and distinguishable flavor of that genre.

Note 3: Abstract art is also sometimes described as "non-objective" or "figurative." Here, music without words is considered to be abstract (and there is general consensus about that). The movie Yellow Submarine, which has a music soundtrack, is indicated here to be both "abstract and representational."

Note 4: There are other ways to build a taxonomy or to compartmentalize art. Art is already and often classified by historical/chronological time: as in, Bronze Age art, Egyptian art, Baroque art, 19th century art, etc. Art is often classified by geography/location of origin (which was more important in earlier times): for example, Chinese art, Easter Island art, or Native American art. Art is also classified by the medium of expression: oil on canvas, marble, jpeg.

Note 5: The classification boundaries around an art object are always present, absent, and permeable. Often the classification is polythetic.