In Samuel Johnson's A Dictionary of the English Language (1755)
1. The power of doing fomething not taught by nature and inftinct; as, to walk is natural, to dance is an art.
2. A fcience; as, the liberal arts.
3. A trade.
4. Artfulnefs; fkill; dexterity.
Walker and Webster combined in a dictionary of the English language (1873)
The disposition or modification of things by human skill, as opposed to nature; a system of rules serving to facilitate the performance of certain actions as opposed to science, as the art of building; skill, dexterity or the power of performing certain actions; arts are divided into the useful or mechanical and the liberal or polite; artifice; duplicity
Concise standard dictionary of the English language ...: abridged ... James Champlin Fernald, Funk & Wagnalls Company - 1910
1. Skill in some practical work; dexterity; facility; a system of rules; as, the industrial or mechanical arts.
2. The embodiment of beautiful thought in artistic forms; also, the works thus produced, collectively; as esthetic or fine arts; also artistic skill.
4. An organized body of trained craftsmen; a gild.
So okay, here, 1910, the turn of the 20th century is the first mention of art as some kind of art being some kind of beauty language, so we will step back to just before the turn of the century.
A dictionary of the English language By Noah Webster (1892)
Acquired skill; dexterity; aptitude; skill; artifice; deceit.
Skillful; cunning; crafty; sly.
Free from art, craft, or strategem; ingenuous; contrived without art or skill; inartificial.
Hmm, throughout all this, I don't see anything precluding conceptual art being classified as art. Even under "The embodiment of beautiful thought in artistic forms;" could conceptual conceivably art pass under the heading of art.
It was interesting to note the gradual progression of art from basically anything artificial to some kind of higher beauty.
Of course even now, the definition of beauty is changing and so in 2010 there comes the formulation of digihamid's law, "Art means sex drawing."
Ha! Since the research was done, you guys get to be included too.