What is Art?

I figured, since I wasn't terribly inspired this past week (what with being busy visiting my son in Oklahoma), I would look up the definition of art on the web. Wikipedia says this in the first paragraph:

"Art refers to a diverse range of human activities, creations, and expressions that are appealing to the senses or emotions of a human individual. The word "art" may be used to cover all or any of the arts, including music, literature and other forms. It is most often used to refer specifically to the visual arts, including media such as painting, sculpture, and printmaking. However it can also be applied to forms of art that stimulate the other senses, such as music, an auditory art. Aesthetics is the branch of philosophy which considers art."

Okay...I guess that's about as general as you can get. However, I thought this seemed a deeper look into the mediums:

"Visual art is defined as the arrangement of colors, forms, or other elements "in a manner that affects the sense of beauty, specifically the production of the beautiful in a graphic or plastic medium". The nature of art has been described by Wollheim as "one of the most elusive of the traditional problems of human culture"."

I would never have considered it a problem, I have always thought of it as a gift. However, I suppose if someone were trying to define or contain the expressions of 'art', that's where you would run into trouble. I think creativity, or art, has always had it's way, even while being suppressed by a government. It simply must come forth -- it is a way our spirits thrive and grow and express themselves in mortal form.

Whenever such things are debated among the 'intellectuals', I'm sure they are going only by what such viewings make them feel. After all, art is all in how something makes us feel -- we like it or we hate it, we could leave it alone, or we must have it; as some of the worlds renown collectors have done.

Many would say the painting above by Mary Cassatt is art in it's true form. Others would argue it was too controlled, too formal, whereas abstractism would be art in a truer form.

I remember when watching the Olympics Opening Ceremonies, and they had a scene where people were using themselves as paint brushes to create a work of art. The announcer informed us that the Chinese feel all art comes from within, that no piece would be the same because no one is the same inside.

I thought, wow. If we all felt that way, our schools would be a little different. The way art is taught in school is all about copying. You must copy what you see -- try to make your effort the same as what is before you. Many times, it's what the instructor has done, or is requiring you to do. In drawing where you must draw a human figure, that is -- of course -- going to be the same because it's the human body. But if someone wanted to but an abstract view to it, their grade might vary from someone else who drew it true to form.

In many ways I felt this expression opened doors in my mind -- freed me from the constraints of society, or what I felt was being put on me by my own view of what art should be. (I think I'm a little twisted, but that's for another time...grin)

Be that as it may -- I still feel chained to what I see in my head as reality when I sit down in front of a canvas. It's as if I just can't break free and end up painting the same thing I always do. I can't seem to draw or paint from my imagination. I have to see the reality before I can transmit it.

Artists who are able to draw what is in their heads and have it come out like they want on paper are amazing to me. I know part of it is training and practice, but I think a great deal of it is inherent talent.

That's what art is to me. What is art to you?

Return to the Neighborhood


Cathy Witbeck said…
One of my art instructors at the Y and I used to get into an argument about what art is, all the time. I had a difficult time appreciating some of the students work, like one painting of lips dripping with blood, flying through the air on a stormy night. To me, that was'nt art, because art should evoke a sense of beauty and appreciation. To my teacher, art just had to evoke emotion, any emotion. To me that was really bizzare. It still is, although I'm starting to understand it a bit more. I think that the more I see the more I understand that art is many things to many people.

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