Thanks for the thoughtful reply!
I actually agree with almost everything you say. The more measured introduction is my considered view, and I admit I got a little carried away by my own rhetoric in some of the later parts…
Though this didn’t come out in the post as clearly as it should have, my tastes aren’t particularly “classical.” I already appreciate abstract paintings the way you might appreciate fireworks. That’s why I tried to narrow my target down to conceptual art (non-painting rather than non-representational painting) — I never said that non-representational art couldn’t be beautiful. I don’t particularly care for hyperrealism, and I love paintings too darkly emotional to count as “beautiful” in any classical sense (Munch, for instance).
I really appreciate your versions of (1) and (2); I hadn’t realized just how double-sided they are. They don’t sound very persuasive to me either. I actually want (1) to be turned around against some representational art: it’s perfectly reasonable to decide that it would just take too much effort to acquire the background for appreciating the political messages in Jacques-Louis David’s paintings, say. In that sense, for many people, that background isn’t worth acquiring. The French Academy/modern art analogy cuts both ways.
I emphatically agree that the power to move us is the best measure of art.