Will Brand's L Magazine post frets over the lack of internet tags for art world terms. "Nobody today thinks to use 'painterliness,' 'theatricality,' or 'openness' as tumblr tags," he notes, as if that is a real issue.
Quoting Hernando de Soto, Brand says capitalism doesn't work in countries where it can't name things accurately, such as property descriptions in home deeds, and therefore, I think he is saying, art will die as a popular medium for lack of proper tagging. Except, most of the art he mentions was never popular.
Check out the website of Gerhard Richter, perhaps the best-respected artist since Andy Warhol: you can sort through dozens of categories of figurative painting, from "cars" to "apples", "flowers" to "rural landscapes", but his huge body of abstract work is simply broken down by date. If you like a painting, and want to find similar ones, your best bet might be searching by color; if you want to find other artists making similar work, you'll have to ask your neighborhood art critic-or, if you're a collector, a dealer.
The problem there might be "cars," "apples," "flowers," and "rural landscapes" for Richter paintings.
Commenter "Hill"'s reply to Brand on the L Magazine website amuses:
I'm not sure what your problem is here, the early Wittgenstein's 'what cannot be said, ...' from the Tractatus or the Whorf hypothesis that a given language precludes a priori thoughts, expressions found in another language. If we dont have a word for house, then we dont have houses we have woodies. Maybe translation is the issue, the public just hasn't or won't learn to translate Abstractionese, though you don't really define if you mean abstract in the non objective sense (Stella), formal (Louis), literal (late Poons) or traditional (spiritual klang, Symbolist colored musical notes of the soul). This would be later naive Wittgenstein's family resemblances and language games. Maybe the public should get degrees in art history.