I have followed this thread with a lot of interest and learned a lot along the way. I cannot match the depth of knowledge that many of you have about the wide variety of artists already mentioned so I am gratefull for the views and information shared thus far. My own views seem to match edbuffaloe's although some of my strongest influences are the same Rothko works that Ed thinks are garbage. Neither of us is wrong we just see things differently. I agree with his views on porn too for some of the most beautiful photographic prints I have seen are those of Mapplethorpe, though perhaps Tom Baril sould get the credit and I am being seduced by the printing rather than the image.
When I view a piece deemed to be art I always ask myself a question about communication for I believe that is what it is all about. If the image speaks to me then it has succeeded no matter how abhorant I find the subject to be. For example, the British photographer Don McCullin has made some quite exquisite images of appalling things that happen in war and famine, in my opinion.
On the other hand paintings by Monet and Turner explore light and atmosphere
are more restful and welcoming to the viewer but still communicate, but only if the viewer is receptive to their particular vision.