Writing is no less an art than painting. Anyone can write the same way anyone can draw, but if you put a paintbrush in a man's hand, he probably can't paint the Mona Lisa, and in the same way, if you put a pen in his hand, he probably can't write a best-selling novel, or even a good plot for one. It's an art that takes years of hard work to learn and go anywhere with. I don't see why this is even a question, and even before I was an author myself, I never could understand why it is.
Despite the resounding opinion of the majority here, I'd like to play Devil's Advocate and mention that not all establish writers even consider what they do 'art'. I just watched a recorded seminar featuring John Irving and he called himself a 'craftsman' much like an architect. Though imagination is key, he placed importance on the structure of the whole, not on the creative 'what-ifs' and 'maybes'. He stressed knowing the end first, and not just the general idea, the actual words, so that you can establish repeated lines and themes. He doesn't even begin to write until he knows the story. In this way, he is just relaying a tale he already knows unto paper when he begins, only having to focus on the physical structure of the sentences and the whens and hows the information is revealed to the readers.
Personally, I do believe it is art. It just requires greater construct than a visual media. As the saying goes "A picture is worth a thousand words".
I don't even mean that in a snarky "bad writing doesn't count" sort of way. It's just a fact: some people are illiterate. This becomes even more of a point to consider when you realise that, in order to write, you first have to master (or at least become proficient in) the language. I consider myself a competent writer in English, but that's not going to help me write a book in Italian. And it's only comparatively recently that even most people have become able to write in their own language.
Which do you reckon you'd do better at: writing a novel in Russian or making a sculpture out of marble? I'll bet your sculpture would look more professional today than your novel would look in two years.
That said, I usually consider "art" to mean visual art. The sort of thing you would see in an art gallery. I don't go into a bookshop to "buy some art."
1. The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture,...: "the art of the Renaissance" 2. Works produced by such skill and imagination.
This seems to come from the Oxford Dictionary. That dictionary also includes: 4. a skill at doing a specified thing, typically one acquired through practice: the art of conversation
Writing fits both of those definitions. As pretentious as we might like to be and despite all the wank about what "art" is, I choose to see art is relatively easy to define. We can have much more worthwhile bohemian circle jerks on what makes are good or bad but as for what art IS, well, that's easy.
Yes, I believe writing is art. Without a question. Just look at all the famous literature in our time as humans--from Shakespeare, to Jack London, to Fitzgerald, to Stoker, to Poe, to Dickinson, and on and on. Not everyone can create works of literature or poetry. To me writing is taken a deep, personal emotion and filling up the pages with it and making it personal for someone else, and that takes talent as well as passion. Isn't visual art the same way? Besides, what would you call writing if it wasn't art? What would those millions libraries filled with billions of books and manuscripts be reduced to?
Art is like the difference between murder and manslaughter (first and second degree murder in the US?). Intent. If you intend it to be art, it's art for all I care. (tbh, I think the debates about definition of art is pointless. Just enjoy it.)
Everyone can write. Some can write well.. and a select few can write to an exceptional degree. Using only words on a page to inspire an imaginative journey through any realm of possibilities. Creative, inspiring, emotional.. That's writing. That shit's magic yo. Respect the art as such.
That's certainly judgemental. Both of those art forms clearly have what one might consider masterpieces but since taste is subjective making broad generalizations like that isn't quite fair. Of course people have written "masterpieces" - this is obviously biased but works like Dante's Inferno, Joyce's Ulysses, Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow are all considered masterful examples of the written word. But this is all piecemeal if you fail to define your criteria for a masterpiece to begin with.
I don't know if "universally accepted as art" is quite what you're going for either. I think that by saying a masterpiece is accepted as art discredits whatever art form you're trying to place it in - obviously it's art, but it's clearly defined as a great or skillful work within that field, or is widely acclaimed and praised, which would necessitate the existence of that kind of art in the first place (along the lines of a hypothetical syllogism), as it would necessitate art that's not quite at the "masterpiece" level (not necessarily tawdry or hack art, either, but solid examples of the range). Therefore I think by defining that there are masterpieces in any field thus makes a concrete statement that the form is an art to begin with. Since (at least in my views) in all of the fields you've stated there are masterpieces - such as I've given already in literature, but in photography there are masterful photos such as that of the Tank Man photo in Tiananmen Square, or digital art which is such a broadly defined field that you'd have to specify further as there are so many great examples in each discipline (animation, digital paintings, etc, etc).
Anyone can write, not because it's easy, but because in our culture anyone is taught to write from an early age. And you cay say 'anyone can do it' about every single type of art. That's something else than 'everyone can do it well' (which I don't believe is the case for any forms of art).
Isn't art all about translating what you see in your mind into something physical that every one else can see with their eyes? Just like a painting is an image of a scene from the artist's mind, written work is an image of a scene from the artist's mind. The only difference is that one consists of pictures and the other consists of words. And then like all art, everyone who sees it sees something difference. In the Mona Lisa example you gave, some people look at her and ask, "Why is she smiling?" I look at her and ask, "Why does she have no eyebrows?" In written works, say Twilight, some people see sparkling Edward Cullen as the sexiest thing on Earth, while others see sparkling Edward Cullen as the greatest insult to vampires. In the end, art is meant to make you think about what you see. Written works are no exception.