Thursday, May 22, 2014

What is art? - Photo Challenge

There are several ways to define art.

Art is a diverse range of human activities and the products of those activities.

Art may be characterized in terms of mimesis (its representation of reality), expression, communication of emotion, or other qualities.

During the Romantic period, art came to be seen as "a special faculty of the human mind to be classified with religion and science".

“In order correctly to define art, it is necessary, first of all, to cease to consider it as a means to pleasure and to consider it as one of the conditions of human life. Viewing it in this way we cannot fail to observe that art is one of the means of intercourse between man and man.”
Leo Tolstoy
Though the definition of what constitutes art is disputed and has changed over time, general descriptions mention an idea of imaginative or technical skill stemming from human agency and creation.

By a broad definition of art, artistic works have existed for almost as long as humankind: from early pre-historic art to contemporary art; however.

The first and broadest sense of art is the one that has remained closest to the older Latin meaning, which roughly translates to "skill" or "craft," as associated with words such as "artisan."

"Imitation, then, is one instinct of our nature. Next, there is the instinct for 'harmony' and rhythm, meters being manifestly sections of rhythm. Persons, therefore, starting with this natural gift developed by degrees their special aptitudes, till their rude improvisations gave birth to Poetry." –Aristotle
English words derived from this meaning include artifact, artificial, artifice, medical arts, and military art.

The nature of art has been described by philosopher Richard Wollheim as "one of the most elusive of the traditional problems of human culture".

Art has been defined as a vehicle for the expression or communication of emotions and ideas, a means for exploring and appreciating formal elements for their own sake, and as mimesis or representation.

"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science." -Albert Einstein
Leo Tolstoy identified art as a use of indirect means to communicate from one person to another.

Benedetto Croce and R.G. Collingwood advanced the idealist view that art expresses emotions, and that the work of art therefore essentially exists in the mind of the creator.

Martin Heidegger has interpreted art as the means by which a community develops for itself a medium for self-expression and interpretation.

"Jupiter's eagle [as an example of art] is not, like logical (aesthetic) attributes of an object, the concept of the sublimity and majesty of creation, but rather something else – something that gives the imagination an incentive to spread its flight over a whole host of kindred representations that provoke more thought than admits of expression in a concept determined by words. They furnish an aesthetic idea, which serves the above rational idea as a substitute for logical presentation, but with the proper function, however, of animating the mind by opening out for it a prospect into a field of kindred representations stretching beyond its ken." -Immanuel Kant
Larry Shiner has described fine art as "not an essence or a fate but something we have made. Art as we have generally understood it is a European invention barely two hundred years old.”

Art plays a large part in making our lives infinitely rich.

Art stimulates different parts of our brains to make us laugh or incite us to riot, with a whole gamut of emotions in between.

"Most scholars who deal with rock paintings or objects recovered from prehistoric contexts that cannot be explained in utilitarian terms and are thus categorized as decorative, ritual or symbolic, are aware of the trap posed by the term 'art'." -Silva Tomaskova
Art gives us a way to be creative and express ourselves.

Art is something that makes us more thoughtful and well-rounded humans.

Art is such a large part of our everyday lives that we may hardly even stop to think about it.

"[Art is a set of] artefacts or images with symbolic meanings as a means of communication." -Steve Mithen
All functional design, well done, is art.

Art is something that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing to our eyes.

Art is in a constant state of change, so nobody can really pin down what it is.

“Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth.”
― Pablo Picasso
Art is subjective, and means something different to every single person on earth.

The creative arts are often divided into more specific categories, each related to its technique, or medium, such as decorative arts, plastic arts, performing arts, or literature.

Unlike scientific fields, art is one of the few subjects that are academically organized according to technique.

“Art and love are the same thing: It’s the process of seeing yourself in things that are not you.”
― Chuck Klosterman, Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story
An artistic medium is the substance or material the artistic work is made from, and may also refer to the technique used.

For example, paint is a medium used in painting, and paper is a medium used in drawing.

An art form is the specific shape, or quality an artistic expression takes.

The media used often influence the form.

“If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud.”
― Émile Zola
For example, the form of a sculpture must exist in space in three dimensions, and respond to gravity.

A genre is a set of conventions and styles within a particular medium.

A particular work of art may bend or combine genres but each genre has a recognizable group of conventions, clichés and tropes.

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
― Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island
The style of an artwork, artist, or movement is the distinctive method and form followed by the respective art.

Often a style is linked with a particular historical period, set of ideas, and particular artistic movement.

Art, as creativity, is something humans must do by their very nature (i.e., no other species creates art), and is therefore beyond utility.


  1. So many beautiful pieces. I love the dolls the best.

    Michelle F.

  2. Wow! They are all lovely. I love the hat for some reason. Art is all around us. Thank goodness.

  3. Art is an expression of so many different things.. Those are great pieces of art.

  4. all of those examples of art are so pretty. to me art can be anything, if you like it, that's all that matters. personally i love black and white photos and have them all over my house. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I agree, Katrina, art can be anything. I think art is a form of expression and the important thing is that it speaks to you, like the black and white photos in your case.

  5. I have become more artistic the last few years and it has really helped me let go of being uptight. In a way, crafting has become my therapy.

    1. Art is a great form of therapy, Michelle. And such an amazing way to express ourselves.

  6. There's art everywhere. It's just a matter of knowing where to look and how to capture it into pictures.

  7. Those are some beautiful pieces of artwork, very talented!

  8. I guess art is the expression of the human soul as we have to dig deep into ourselves to come out with really creative pieces.

  9. I agree that art is subjective. However, everything you've shown here is clearly art to me.

  10. I love the amazing the art ornaments.

  11. I love how clear your photos are. I also love how art can bring us together like it has done here.

  12. This reminds me of when I was in Guatemala. So much wonderful art.

  13. Love the handbags. Thanks for sharing.