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For example, most (if not all) of the ancient Greek and Egyptian pottery that we find in museums was not considered art in its time of creation. They were made as practical pieces that were used for practical purposes. It was later when humans defined the word art that these relics were collected and renamed as art.
Another example of why art is hard to define and why it really depends on the time in history that makes a piece a work of art or not can be seen in the way in which many artists do not achieve success until after their deaths. It can be argued that true artists are often very in tune with what is going on in the culture and very aware of ways in which culture oppresses people or glorifies them. They are sensitive to what is going on in the world and perhaps they bring to light what is being repressed or ignored and they are aware of it before anyone else and they bring it to light in their art. A perfect example of this phenomenon can be seen in the painter El Greco. El Greco's work was largely ignored during the time of his life because it was viewed as different and it didn't conform to what the definition of art was at that time. El Greco would only be recognized hundreds of years later as a great painter who was ahead of his time. Not only were the themes used in his paintings contentious for the time in which he lived, but his techniques were ahead of his time. While El Greco was alive, his art was not considered art, but there wouldn't be one historian or critic who wouldn't call it art today.
In considering Billio's work, what is to say that it will be considered art tomorrow even though it is considered art today? There are some that will argue that great art comes not just from the person who is experiencing the art, but we have to understand more about what the experience of the artist was in making the piece. For example, considering a painter like Jackson Pollack, for many his artwork looks no more like a messy painting that a preschool child might do. But when we consider the painter's life and the struggles that he went through as an individual, the artwork becomes a bit more intriguing. Pollack was obviously such an influential painter whose paintings changed the modern art world. It seems absurd to even compare a painter like Pollack with the artist Billio because Billio's pieces were made in a different time and seem to have more to say about our consumerism and luxury/commodity culture than they do about the artist and, for that reason, it could be argued that Billio's pieces are not likely to have any influence on people in a different time other than the present.
In considering what art is today, it can be argued that all art needs to have both intention and action. There has to be some part of our world experience that is being manipulated or shifted in some kind of way. That is to say, a bowl of fruit is not considered art, but when someone creates a painting of that bowl of fruit it can turn into what we call art. In this way, we can define art using language, but can we define it necessarily in another way? In art we can consider something art "in the moment" but that doesn't necessarily mean that the same piece of art will be considered art in another time. However, there are certain pieces that have stood the test of time and that will never be considered anything but art and this happens in other mediums of fine arts -- not just visual art. We consider Shakespeare an artist of the highest standard as we do Picasso and Michelangelo. It would never be argued that these men were the greatest of artists in their respective arts. Trying to define what art is today is the most difficult task because it is almost like we have to wait until tomorrow to decide what art was today.
Billio, Bruno. (2011). About. Bruno Billio. Accessed on 11 December 2011:
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