He argues that art is not only a way of expressing the element of truth in a culture, but the means of creating it and providing a springboard from which "that which is" can be revealed. Works of art are not merely representations of the way things are, but actually produce a community's shared understanding. Each time a new artwork is added to any culture, the meaning of what it is to exist is inherently changed.
The creative arts are often divided into more specific categories, typically along perceptually distinguishable categories such as media , genre, styles , and form. It covers the methods adopted by the artist and the physical composition of the artwork, primarily non-semantic aspects of the work i. Form may also include visual design principles , such as arrangement, balance , contrast , emphasis , harmony , proportion , proximity , and rhythm. In general there are three schools of philosophy regarding art, focusing respectively on form, content, and context.
Philosophers almost universally reject this view and hold that the properties and aesthetics of art extend beyond materials, techniques, and form. Some authors refer to subject matter and content — i. Extreme Intentionalism holds that authorial intent plays a decisive role in the meaning of a work of art, conveying the content or essential main idea, while all other interpretations can be discarded. As evidenced by the title, the subject is Napoleon , and the content is Ingres 's representation of Napoleon as "Emperor-God beyond time and space".
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Its restrictive interpretation is "socially unhealthy, philosophically unreal, and politically unwise". Finally, the developing theory of post-structuralism studies art's significance in a cultural context, such as the ideas, emotions, and reactions prompted by a work. However, in other cases historical and material conditions may predominate, such as religious and philosophical convictions, sociopolitical and economic structures, or even climate and geography. Art criticism continues to grow and develop alongside art. Art can connote a sense of trained ability or mastery of a medium.
Art can also simply refer to the developed and efficient use of a language to convey meaning with immediacy and or depth. Art can be defined as an act of expressing feelings, thoughts, and observations. There is an understanding that is reached with the material as a result of handling it, which facilitates one's thought processes.
A common view is that the epithet "art", particular in its elevated sense, requires a certain level of creative expertise by the artist, whether this be a demonstration of technical ability, an originality in stylistic approach, or a combination of these two. Traditionally skill of execution was viewed as a quality inseparable from art and thus necessary for its success; for Leonardo da Vinci , art, neither more nor less than his other endeavors, was a manifestation of skill.
A common contemporary criticism of some modern art occurs along the lines of objecting to the apparent lack of skill or ability required in the production of the artistic object. In conceptual art, Marcel Duchamp 's " Fountain " is among the first examples of pieces wherein the artist used found objects "ready-made" and exercised no traditionally recognised set of skills.
Emin slept and engaged in other activities in her bed before placing the result in a gallery as work of art. Hirst came up with the conceptual design for the artwork but has left most of the eventual creation of many works to employed artisans. Hirst's celebrity is founded entirely on his ability to produce shocking concepts. However, there are many modernist and contemporary artists who continue to excel in the skills of drawing and painting and in creating hands-on works of art.
Art has had a great number of different functions throughout its history, making its purpose difficult to abstract or quantify to any single concept. This does not imply that the purpose of Art is "vague", but that it has had many unique, different reasons for being created. Some of these functions of Art are provided in the following outline. The non-motivated purposes of art are those that are integral to being human, transcend the individual, or do not fulfill a specific external purpose.
In this sense, Art, as creativity, is something humans must do by their very nature i. 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. The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.
It is the source of all true art and science. 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. 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'.
Motivated purposes of art refer to intentional, conscious actions on the part of the artists or creator. These may be to bring about political change, to comment on an aspect of society, to convey a specific emotion or mood, to address personal psychology, to illustrate another discipline, to with commercial arts sell a product, or simply as a form of communication.
By contrast, the realistic attitude, inspired by positivism, from Saint Thomas Aquinas to Anatole France, clearly seems to me to be hostile to any intellectual or moral advancement. I loathe it, for it is made up of mediocrity, hate, and dull conceit. It is this attitude which today gives birth to these ridiculous books, these insulting plays. It constantly feeds on and derives strength from the newspapers and stultifies both science and art by assiduously flattering the lowest of tastes; clarity bordering on stupidity, a dog's life.
The functions of art described above are not mutually exclusive, as many of them may overlap. For example, art for the purpose of entertainment may also seek to sell a product, i. Since ancient times, much of the finest art has represented a deliberate display of wealth or power, often achieved by using massive scale and expensive materials. Much art has been commissioned by political rulers or religious establishments, with more modest versions only available to the most wealthy in society. Nevertheless, there have been many periods where art of very high quality was available, in terms of ownership, across large parts of society, above all in cheap media such as pottery, which persists in the ground, and perishable media such as textiles and wood.
In many different cultures, the ceramics of indigenous peoples of the Americas are found in such a wide range of graves that they were clearly not restricted to a social elite ,  though other forms of art may have been.
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Reproductive methods such as moulds made mass-production easier, and were used to bring high-quality Ancient Roman pottery and Greek Tanagra figurines to a very wide market. Cylinder seals were both artistic and practical, and very widely used by what can be loosely called the middle class in the Ancient Near East. Another important innovation came in the 15th century in Europe, when printmaking began with small woodcuts , mostly religious, that were often very small and hand-colored, and affordable even by peasants who glued them to the walls of their homes.
Printed books were initially very expensive, but fell steadily in price until by the 19th century even the poorest could afford some with printed illustrations. Public buildings and monuments , secular and religious, by their nature normally address the whole of society, and visitors as viewers, and display to the general public has long been an important factor in their design. Egyptian temples are typical in that the most largest and most lavish decoration was placed on the parts that could be seen by the general public, rather than the areas seen only by the priests.
Special arrangements were made to allow the public to see many royal or private collections placed in galleries, as with the Orleans Collection mostly housed in a wing of the Palais Royal in Paris, which could be visited for most of the 18th century. The British Royal Collection remains distinct, but large donations such as the Old Royal Library were made from it to the British Museum , established in The Uffizi in Florence opened entirely as a gallery in , though this function had been gradually taking the building over from the original civil servants' offices for a long time before.
Most modern public museums and art education programs for children in schools can be traced back to this impulse to have art available to everyone. Museums in the United States tend to be gifts from the very rich to the masses. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, for example, was created by John Taylor Johnston , a railroad executive whose personal art collection seeded the museum. But despite all this, at least one of the important functions of art in the 21st century remains as a marker of wealth and social status.
There have been attempts by artists to create art that can not be bought by the wealthy as a status object. One of the prime original motivators of much of the art of the late s and s was to create art that could not be bought and sold. It is "necessary to present something more than mere objects"  said the major post war German artist Joseph Beuys. This time period saw the rise of such things as performance art , video art , and conceptual art. The idea was that if the artwork was a performance that would leave nothing behind, or was simply an idea, it could not be bought and sold.
Artists broadly identified under the heading of Conceptual art In the decades since, these ideas have been somewhat lost as the art market has learned to sell limited edition DVDs of video works,  invitations to exclusive performance art pieces, and the objects left over from conceptual pieces.
Many of these performances create works that are only understood by the elite who have been educated as to why an idea or video or piece of apparent garbage may be considered art.
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The marker of status becomes understanding the work instead of necessarily owning it, and the artwork remains an upper-class activity. Art has long been controversial, that is to say disliked by some viewers, for a wide variety of reasons, though most pre-modern controversies are dimly recorded, or completely lost to a modern view. Iconoclasm is the destruction of art that is disliked for a variety of reasons, including religious ones. Aniconism is a general dislike of either all figurative images, or often just religious ones, and has been a thread in many major religions.
It has been a crucial factor in the history of Islamic art , where depictions of Muhammad remain especially controversial. Much art has been disliked purely because it depicted or otherwise stood for unpopular rulers, parties or other groups. Artistic conventions have often been conservative and taken very seriously by art critics , though often much less so by a wider public.
The iconographic content of art could cause controversy, as with late medieval depictions of the new motif of the Swoon of the Virgin in scenes of the Crucifixion of Jesus. The Last Judgment by Michelangelo was controversial for various reasons, including breaches of decorum through nudity and the Apollo -like pose of Christ. The content of much formal art through history was dictated by the patron or commissioner rather than just the artist, but with the advent of Romanticism , and economic changes in the production of art, the artists' vision became the usual determinant of the content of his art, increasing the incidence of controversies, though often reducing their significance.
Strong incentives for perceived originality and publicity also encouraged artists to court controversy. In the twentieth century, Pablo Picasso 's Guernica used arresting cubist techniques and stark monochromatic oils , to depict the harrowing consequences of a contemporary bombing of a small, ancient Basque town. Leon Golub 's Interrogation III , depicts a female nude, hooded detainee strapped to a chair, her legs open to reveal her sexual organs, surrounded by two tormentors dressed in everyday clothing.
Andres Serrano 's Piss Christ is a photograph of a crucifix, sacred to the Christian religion and representing Christ 's sacrifice and final suffering, submerged in a glass of the artist's own urine. The resulting uproar led to comments in the United States Senate about public funding of the arts.
Before Modernism, aesthetics in Western art was greatly concerned with achieving the appropriate balance between different aspects of realism or truth to nature and the ideal ; ideas as to what the appropriate balance is have shifted to and fro over the centuries. This concern is largely absent in other traditions of art.
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