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December 03, 2007

Art Usage

The most common usage of the word "art," which rose to prominence after 1750, is understood to denote skill used to produce an aesthetic result. [8] Britannica Online defines it as "the use of skill and imagination in the creation of aesthetic objects, environments, or experiences that can be shared with others."[9] By any of these definitions of the word, artistic works have existed for almost as long as humankind: from early pre-historic art to contemporary art.

Many books and journal articles have been written about the concept of "art".[10] Where Adorno said in 1970 "It is now taken for granted that nothing which concerns art can be taken for granted any more[...],"[11] in 1998, Walt Weaver claimed that "It is self-evident that nothing concerning art is self-evident anymore."[12]

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," and also from an Indo-European root meaning "arrangement" or "to arrange". In this sense, art is whatever is described as having undergone a deliberate process of arrangement by an agent. A few examples where this meaning proves very broad include artifact, artificial, artifice, artillery, medical arts, and military arts. However, there are many other colloquial uses of the word, all with some relation to its etymology.

The second and more recent sense of the word art is as an abbreviation for creative art or fine art. Fine art means that a skill is being used to express the artist’s creativity, or to engage the audience’s aesthetic sensibilities, or to draw the audience towards consideration of the finer things. Often, if the skill is being used in a common or practical way, people will consider it a craft instead of art. Likewise, if the skill is being used in a commercial or industrial way, it will be considered Commercial art instead of art. On the other hand, crafts and design are sometimes considered applied art. Some art followers have argued that the difference between fine art and applied art has more to do with value judgments made about the art than any clear definitional difference.[13] However, even fine art often has goals beyond pure creativity and self-expression. The purpose of works of art may be to communicate ideas, such as in politically-, spiritually-, or philosophically-motivated art; to create a sense of beauty (see aesthetics); to explore the nature of perception; for pleasure; or to generate strong emotions. The purpose may also be seemingly nonexistent.

Painting by Song Dynasty artist Ma Lin, c. 1250.  24,8 × 25,2 cm.
Painting by Song Dynasty artist Ma Lin, c. 1250. 24,8 × 25,2 cm.

The ultimate derivation of fine in fine art comes from the philosophy of Aristotle, who proposed four causes or explanations of a thing. The final cause of a thing is the purpose for its existence, and the term fine art is derived from this notion. If the final cause of an artwork is simply the artwork itself, "art for art's sake", and not a means to another end, then that artwork could appropriately be called fine. The closely related concept of beauty is classically defined as "that which when seen, pleases". Pleasure is the final cause of beauty and thus is not a means to another end, but an end in itself.

Art can describe several things: a study of creative skill, a process of using the creative skill, a product of the creative skill, or the audience’s experience with the creative skill. The creative arts (art as discipline) are a collection of disciplines (arts) that produce artworks (art as objects) that are compelled by a personal drive (art as activity) and echo or reflect a message, mood, or symbolism for the viewer to interpret (art as experience). Artworks can be defined by purposeful, creative interpretations of limitless concepts or ideas in order to communicate something to another person. Artworks can be explicitly made for this purpose or interpreted based on images or objects.

Art is something that stimulates an individual's thoughts, emotions, beliefs, or ideas through the senses. It is also an expression of an idea and it can take many different forms and serve many different purposes.

Although the application of scientific theories to derive a new scientific theory involves skill and results in the "creation" of something new, this represents science only and is not categorized as art.

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