This is something I’ve been thinking about for some time. In science fiction, the “hard” sci-fi is considered the artistic works while the “soft” sci-fi is considered the “fun” works.
This dichotomy doesn’t help.
When you go to pick up a book, whether it’s Elizabeth Moon’s Trading in Danger or David Weber’s On Basilisk Station, there’s no shortage of creative ideas and interesting characters. However, these are considered “soft” due to their lack of literary merit. However, they contribute much to the story of science fiction, and writing them off because they’re not Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane is unfair.
When I studied philosophy I was mystified by the concept of “art”. Within philosophy the concepts of beauty and art are tackled in the realm of aesthetics, but I always just stayed at the basic concepts and tried to argue those.
I truly believe something is artistic when you enjoy it for its style. Because of this, it is completely subjective and the concept of “high art” doesn’t exist but in the cocktail lounges of the fanciest hotels. That is to say, a group of people with social status can get together and declare something “high art” that isn’t. See, that was the entire point of Andy Warhol’s pop art movement.