Man’s signs and structures are records because, or rather in so far as they express ideas separated from, yet realized by, the process of signaling and building. These records have therefore the quality of emerging from the stream of time…
Now we have seen that even the selection of the material for observation and examination is predetermined, to some extent, by a theory, or by a general historical conception. This is even more evident in the procedure itself, as every step made towards the system that ‘makes sense’ presupposes not only the preceding but also the succeeding ones.
A work of art is not always created exclusively for the purpose of being enjoyed, or, to use a more scholarly expression, of being experienced aesthetically. …But a work of art always has aesthetic significance (not to be confused with aesthetic value): whether or not it serves some practical purpose, and whether it is good or bad, it demands to be experienced aesthetically.
Only he who simply and wholly abandons himself to the object of his perception will experience it aesthetically.
A man-made object, however, either demands or does not demand to be so experienced, for it has what the scholastics call an ‘intention.’
Where the sphere of practical objects ends, and that of ‘art’ begins, depends then, on the ‘intentions’ of the creators.
Erwin Panofsky, The History of Art as a Humanistic Discipline, 1940