Although today the word art usually refers to the visual arts , the concept of what art is has continuously changed over centuries. Perhaps the most concisedefinition is its broadest—art refers to all creative human endeavors, excluding actions directly related to survival and reproduction . From awide perspective , art is simply a generic term for the creative impulse , out of which sprang all other human pursuits such as science via alchemy , and religion via shamanism .
Artists, deliberately or not, work under the influence of other artists of the past and present. Much of the development ofindividual artists deals with finding structured principles for how to express certain ideas through various kinds of symbolism.For example, Vasily Kandinsky famously developed his use of color in painting through a system ofstimulus response, where over time he gained an understanding of the emotions thatcan be evoked by color and combinations of color. Contemporary artist Andy Goldsworthy , on the other hand, chose to use the medium offound natural objects and materials to arrange temporary sculptures; the only record of these sculptures brought back to theworld comes in the form of a modest photograph .
The word art: derivation and usage
The word "art" comes from the Latin ars, which, loosely translated, means"arrangement" or "to arrange", though in many dictionaries you will simply findit tautologically translated as "art". This is the only universal definition ofart—that whatever it is was at some point arranged in some way. A few examples that show this meaning is too broad, andincludes artifact , artifice, artillery , medical arts, and military arts. However, there are many other colloquial uses of the word, all with some relation to its etymological roots.
It is frequently argued that art cannot be defined, partly because people's standards for judging what is or is not art arecompletely subjective. Confusion about the meaning of the term derives from two sources: the first of these is that multiplemeanings of the word are often used interchangeably in conversation. Secondly, confusion can stem from the fact that in themodern world, art is often seen as belonging to one class and excluding others. Art is seen as a high-status activity associatedwith wealth and the ability to purchase both works of art and the leisure required to enjoy them. Much of the confusion aboutwhat can be or cannot be deemed art comes from an unconsidered use of the word to describe things or people as good or bad, as insuch expressions as "(that meal was) a work of art" or "the art of deception". It is this use of the word as an absolute measureof quality or value that gives the term its appearance of subjectivity.
In addition, most people's choices of what is art fall well in line with generally accepted standards deriving from educationand other social factors. Most people did not consider a Brillo Box or a urinal to be art until Andy Warhol or Marcel Duchamp placed them in a specific context, ie. the art gallery , which then inherently associated the objects with the values thatusually define something as art. Indeed, most viewers of these objects initially rejected such associations, as the objects didnot, themselves, meet the accepted criteria. It required that the objects be absorbed into the general consensus of what art isfor them to achieve the near-universal acceptance as art they enjoy today. Once accepted and viewed with a fresh eye the smooth,white surfaces of Duchamp's urinal are strikingly similar to classical marble sculptural forms, whether the artist intended it ornot. This type of recontextualizing provides the same spark of connection that we expect from any 'good' art.
Given this association of art with status, it is somewhat ironic to note that previous to the 14th century in Europe , artisans were considered as being of alower caste, since they laboured with their hands. It was only after Europe was re-exposed to Classical culture that artistsgained their current association with high status, though arrangements of 'fine' and expensive goods have always been used byinstitutions of power as marks of their own status. This can still be seen in the commissioning or purchasing of art by bigbusinesses and corporations as decoration for their offices.
Art as an entity
Definitions of art and aesthetic arguments usually proceed from one of severalpossible perspectives. Art may be defined by the intention of the artist as in the writings of Dewey . Art may be seen as being in the response/emotion of the viewer as Tolstoy claims. In Danto 's view,it can be defined as a character of the item itself or as a function of an object's context. For Plato , art is imitation. Obviously, there is validity in each of these perspectives and any useful definition of artmust, at minimum, address all these categories.
There is wide disagreement over what constitutes art, and there is no single definition that is widely agreed upon. A commonview is that art requires a creative and unique perception of both the artist and audience. For example, a common contemporarycriticism of some modern painting might be, 'my five-year old could havepainted that' — implying that the work is somehow less worthy of the title art, either because the viewer fails to findmeaning in the work, or because the work does not appear to have required any skill to produce. This view is often described as alay critique and derives from the fact that in Western culture atleast, art has traditionally been pushed in the direction of representationalism , the literal presentation of reality through literal images.
Art can connote a sense of trained ability or mastery of a medium . It can alsosimply refer to the developed and efficient use of a language so as to conveymeaning, with immediacy and or depth. Making this judgment requires a basis for criticism: a way to determine whether the impactof the object on the senses meets the criteria to be considered art, whether it is perceived to be ugly or beautiful. Perceptionis always colored by experience, so a reaction to art as 'ugly' or 'beautiful' is necessarily subjective. Countless schools haveeach proposed their own ways to define quality, yet they all seem to agree in at least one point: once their aesthetic choiceshave been accepted, the value of the work of art is determined by its capacity to transcend the limits of its chosen medium inorder to strike some universal chord (which, oddly enough, tends to be the most personal one).
Art also appeals to human emotions. It can arouse aesthetic or moral feelings, and can be understood as a way of communicating these feelings. The artist has to express themself so that their public is aroused, but they do not have to do itconsciously. Art both explores human emotions and ways to arouse them - and good art brings something new and original in eitherof these two respects.
Consider photography , are photographs of un-posed, 'real life' to be considered art? The common answer is overwhelmingly yes, even thoughmany of these photographs simply seek to reproduce by machine what people can see with their own eyes. However, the reproductionis not neutral—a selection is being made by the artist. This is also one of the goals of found art : to recontextualize the art of everyday objects.
Different forms of art
Artistic expression takes many forms, painting , drawing , sculpture and possibly architecture are the most widely recognised forms. However, since the advent of modernism and the technological revolution, new forms have emerged. These include performance art , photography , video art , installation art , conceptual art , and computer art .
Within each form, a wide range of genres may exist. For instance, a painting may be a still life , a portrait , a landscape and may deal with historical or domestic subjects. In addition, a work of art may be representational or abstract.
The use of art
There are many who ascribe to certain arts the quality of being non- utilitarian . This fits within the 'art as good' system of definitions and suffers from a class prejudiceagainst labor and utility. Opponents of this view argue that all human activity has some utilitarian function, and these objectsclaimed to be 'non-utilitarian' actually have the rather mundane and banal utility of attempting to mystify and codify unworkablejustifications for arbitrary social hierarchy.
The history of art
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