I wrote a post a while back called The Art of Living .... idea being that in dueling, there is little art in killing and less in dying, so ultimately the 'Art' in 'Martial Art' in concerned with getting away ....
The other day I was working out with a friend, and we started doing a cooperative flow drill, and after a few minutes when it seemed like we both were moving pretty well, I started to talk tactics and how doing what we were doing could evolve into part of an adversarial duel.
My friend said ... 'But I'm just interested in the 'art', seemingly implying he wanted to keep doing the drill and not get into the messy section about competitiveness, winning and losing.
We started a discussion, and I said that I considered all the pieces of the system that are considered 'art' inextricably connected to the ability to prevail, that you cannot practice the artistry without keeping the goal in mind. In fact the art is not art if it does not work.
I know there does not have to be any 'art' for something to be deemed 'martial', but there is a certain elegance, effortlessness and precision that can give some solutions to conflict a sense of being more, better ..... beautiful, even.
The artistry can be creative, inspired or unexpected, though of course it can be destructive too ... a thing of darkness, it can also be breathtakingly cold, stark and amoral. But regardless of which part of the spectrum the artistry falls, it still has to work.
The art really is not separate from the deed, you can't gain one without the other ... and oddly enough, it only really becomes true art once it has an audience, even if the audience is your opponent, and they have no idea of what just happened.