What Is Art?


Art is the act of creating a work with a visual medium such as paint, print, or sculpture. The purpose of art is to communicate a message or idea that appeals to the emotions and senses, often using color, shape, line and texture. Art is used to express beliefs and ideas, promote culture, educate, provide entertainment, or serve other functions. People have different opinions and feelings about art, but it is a fundamental part of our lives and a way to connect with one another.

The concept of what constitutes art is continually changing and evolving, as new technologies and styles emerge and are adopted into society. While it is difficult to pin down a definition of art, there are some basic principles that can be taught to students. These concepts include the idea of beauty, the difference between objective and subjective writing about art, and the relationship between form and subject matter.

A person’s feelings about art depend on his or her history, story and everything else that comes together to make who they are. Therefore, three different people may experience a piece of art and have completely different reactions to it.

For example, a painting of a tranquil landscape might trigger feelings of peace in one person while another might feel overwhelmed and anxious. The reason for this is that the individual’s reaction is determined by all of their experiences and everything about them, even subconsciously. It is possible that these experiences are similar to the artist’s intention of the painting, but it is also entirely possible that they are not.

Many artists have specific subject matter that they focus on and that determines their style. For example, the movement of Realism focused on depicting scenes of everyday life rather than historical events or emotionally charged drama. Impressionism, on the other hand, focuses on capturing initial impressions and sensations of a scene rather than what reality presents.

Another topic that is explored in art classes is the symbolism and meaning of the work. While most modern scholars agree that there is no one single symbolic meaning to a piece of art, there are some that argue for a specific interpretation and others that simply state that the symbolism of a piece of art is subjective.

It is important to teach students that a definition of art is not necessarily objective, and there are many ways to interpret the same piece of art. Some argue that a definition of art should be based on a specific set of data, while others claim that this would be impossible because of the many overlapping and contradictory features that comprise art. A few theorists have even suggested that different genders systematically create and value art in very different ways, leading to the need for separate canons and gynocentric definitions of art (Brand 2000).

In addition to providing the foundational knowledge needed to analyze art, an art class should also focus on developing the skills required to critically evaluate art. An effective art critique involves four key elements: description, analysis, interpretation, and evaluation.