Art
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What is Art?

Art is an expression of human creativity, a manifestation of emotions, ideas, and perspectives. It transcends language and culture, connecting us through its universal language of beauty and provocation. From painting to poetry, it challenges and celebrates the human experience. How does art touch your life? Discover more as we delve into the world of artistic expression.
Garry Crystal
Garry Crystal

In today’s society, it is very difficult to give an exact definition of the word art. It has come to mean many things to many people. What is art to one person may not be considered so by another. Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is art.

In art schools, the main bulk of teaching is in the fields of fine arts, painting and craftwork. Students are advised to be experimental in their work and to bring something new and original to the field. This type of originality is a problem for some people when defining the concept of art.

The paintings from Norman Rockwell's series The Four Freedoms are examples of art works that are meant to illustrate national and individual values.
The paintings from Norman Rockwell's series The Four Freedoms are examples of art works that are meant to illustrate national and individual values.

Every artist strives to be original, to conceive something that has never been seen before. This originality confuses some people. When the artist Jackson Pollock brought his abstract paintings to the world, some people did not understand them at all, and many still don't.

Some artists try to show their lives through their work. British artist Tracey Emin is famous for including pieces of her life in her work. One of her art pieces consisted of her unmade bed and its bedroom surroundings on display for the world to view. Some people did not consider this art, but simply the artist's bed.

Many people enroll in art classes, learning skills such as painting.
Many people enroll in art classes, learning skills such as painting.

The reason some people do not understand some modern art is simply a matter of perception. They may find new works confusing because there is nothing to compare them with. They are new and fresh and have never been seen before, so what can you compare them to? This is what brings out some confusion in original artworks, just as it did when Jackson Pollock’s abstracts were first shown.

An artist might paint an imaginative respresentation of nature.
An artist might paint an imaginative respresentation of nature.

Art can take many forms. Sculptures, paintings, cinema films, writing and the human body can all be viewed works of art. The price tag that is put on these items may not be relative to the amount of work that has gone into them, but rather to the originality that they present.

Provocative, daring and shocking artworks are sometimes made to gain a reaction. This reaction may be different in each person, but the main purpose of such art is to inspire people to talk and think. The first person who saw Tracey Emin's bed may have hated it, but he or she might have been talking about it all day. This may have been simply because the person did not understand the concept, as he or she had nothing to compare it with.

Art can take many forms, including paintings.
Art can take many forms, including paintings.

Artists are usually people who try to get others to see things in a different way, to get a different point of view across. Throughout history, many artist’s works have been banned and destroyed by governments for exactly that reason. Art does not have to be all suffering in a garret for one's creations, but if art is saying nothing new, is there a point to it?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the definition of art?

Pottery is one form of art.
Pottery is one form of art.

Art is a diverse range of human activities involving the creation of visual, auditory, or performed artifacts that express the creator's imagination, conceptual ideas, or technical skill, intended to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power. The definition of art has evolved over time and varies among cultures and societies, but it generally includes the disciplines of painting, sculpture, music, dance, theater, photography, and literature.

How does art impact society?

Art impacts society by reflecting cultural values, beliefs, and identities. It often acts as a social commentary, influencing public opinion and evoking a spectrum of emotions. Art can inspire change by challenging viewers' perceptions and fostering empathy or understanding. According to the National Endowment for the Arts, engagement with the arts can lead to higher civic engagement, social tolerance, and reduced poverty rates. Art also contributes significantly to the economy; for instance, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that arts and culture contributed $877.8 billion, or 4.5% of the GDP, in 2017.

Can art be objectively evaluated?

Art is largely subjective and its evaluation can vary greatly among individuals. While there are certain technical aspects, such as composition and technique, that can be assessed, the emotional and personal responses to art are unique to each viewer. Critics and art historians may provide expert opinions based on established criteria within different art movements or historical contexts, but personal taste plays a significant role in how art is perceived and valued.

Why is art important in education?

Art is important in education because it fosters creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. It allows students to express themselves and understand the world from different perspectives. Studies have shown that art education is linked to better academic performance and social outcomes. According to Americans for the Arts, students engaged in arts learning have higher GPAs and standardized test scores, and lower dropout rates—benefits that are reaped across socio-economic strata.

How has the concept of art changed over time?

The concept of art has changed dramatically over time, influenced by cultural shifts, technological advancements, and evolving philosophies. Prehistoric art focused on survival and religious themes, while the Renaissance brought a focus on realism and humanism. The modern era saw movements like Impressionism and Abstract Expressionism, which broke traditional boundaries. Today, digital technology and global connectivity continue to expand the definition of art, incorporating new media and interactive experiences.

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Discussion Comments

anon84656

It's interesting that your article is stuck on the confusing modern definition of art. Considering the fact that creativity takes off within limitations, it makes sense that the lack of limitations constitutes the promotion of mediocrity.

However, originality is not the focus of art. The reactions of the viewer is also not essential.

Art is the act of creation, not limited to a medium, but expressed through one. The goal of art and the artist, is self expression; the processing of life experiences into concentrated forms that allow a viewer to go through an emotionally charged experience which 'might' be similar as the artist.

Last point: the greatest disservice that ever happened to art was the formulation of Post Modernism. Everything is acceptable, nothing is wrong, there is no right way to do things, no tradition to grow from and nothing to rebel against. The artist is the agitator. if there's nothing to push against, then mediocrity is all we have, which leads to decadence and eventually artistic dark ages.

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    • The paintings from Norman Rockwell's series The Four Freedoms are examples of art works that are meant to illustrate national and individual values.
      By: Keijo Knutas
      The paintings from Norman Rockwell's series The Four Freedoms are examples of art works that are meant to illustrate national and individual values.
    • Many people enroll in art classes, learning skills such as painting.
      By: Edie Layland
      Many people enroll in art classes, learning skills such as painting.
    • An artist might paint an imaginative respresentation of nature.
      By: Gerhard Wanzenböck
      An artist might paint an imaginative respresentation of nature.
    • Art can take many forms, including paintings.
      By: ErgSap - Android apps !
      Art can take many forms, including paintings.
    • Pottery is one form of art.
      By: Petrov Vadim
      Pottery is one form of art.