Very old question, why one ponders it with such fervor is beyond me.
"So, what makes art art? In my estimation it's just one thing: the work's ability to kick you in the solar plexus. If it doesn't do that, it's doggerel or doggerel's visual equivalent. And in the end, there's no formula that can help you produce art. You have to wing it."
So after all your pontificating about what makes art "art" you state the obvious and can sum it up with one sentence,
Art, as is with beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
"doggerel" That's a lousy use of the word, don't you think? If poop spread over a canvas kicks you in the solar plexus as you state, that's art, right?
Art, what is art? Cars, watches, buildings, paintings, photographs, sculpture, houses, clothes, tile work, glass/crystal, sand castles, ice sculpture, songwriters, metal work, stone carving, your 4 year old's picture s/he made for you (that can really hit you in the solar plexus) the list could go on forever. Obviously a car is not a car and a house is not a house and a painting is not a painting, it certainly would take a lot more skill to produce a Rembrandt portrait than a Warhol. A Ferrari over a Ford and a Wright over a Ryan
"but the number of figures in the price of the photograph is going to be determined to a much greater degree by its scarcity and its provenance than by its visual quality"
Or possibly what the media has determined.
I had always wondered when I visit the famous museums around the world, is it truly the "art". IOW, what made the Mona Lisa famous and priceless? It can be duplicated in China for a few hundred dollars. While Van Gogh was alive his works weren't worth much, try to buy one today. As a matter of fact quite a few Van Gogh's were thrown in the garbage, burned, stored and or lost because they just weren't worth anything at the time. What makes a Van Gogh worth millions today? I guess it's because the media has made some people believe it hit them in the solar plexus? (I've learned to appreciate Van Gogh). The song "Vincent" by Don Mclean was certainly worth more than a Van Gogh painting while VG was alive. Maybe there's something in the song,
"Vincent this world was never meant for one as beautiful as you."
Maybe it just goes back to the beginning, if you don't understand it, you wont consider it art. So at the end of the day, I don't believe every piece of "art" has to hit you in the solar plexus, you just have to view it for what it is. Can't we have levels of art? I'd hate to believe that everything below a Michelangelo, DaVinci, Rembrandt, Frank Llyod Wright, Farina, Harry Winston etc. isn't art. Both Rembrandt and An-He hit me in the solar plexus, so does a Ferrari, but that doesn't mean I don't consider Warhol or Picasso art, they have the same affect on others that Rembrandt has on me.
What is art?
Art is in the eye of the beholder
Remember, "One man's trash is another man's treasure"