What Is Art?

Whether it’s finger painting on the wall as a kid or a painting that evokes a strong reaction in an art gallery, there’s a certain level of skill and talent required for something to be considered art. Art is an expression of human creativity and a way of grasping the world, not just the physical but also culture, society and spiritual experience.

Art is a form of communication, either by direct or symbolic means and can have both positive and negative effects. A work of art can inspire people, open dialogue, and even challenge paradigms. It can also be used to promote and encourage action, especially in the context of social movements. In this way, art has the ability to transform our world.

The question of what art is has been around for centuries. The answer is complex and has varied over time. In the past, it was defined as something that had a high degree of craftsmanship and that embodied the special symbolism of its era. This was later challenged by the era of Romanticism and the birth of individualism, when art began to be defined as originality. The search for what was unique or one-of-a-kind led to movements such as Impressionism, Cubism and Futurism. This was followed by the emergence of postmodernism and its emphasis on cultural criticism, which led to a greater focus on meaning in art.

In the end, however, a definitive definition has not been found. Many philosophers have approached the question of what makes something art by proposing a set of criteria or defining a certain genre of art. For example, Monroe Beardsley suggests that a work of art:

Is an arrangement intended to afford an experience of marked aesthetic character or is an arrangement that belongs to a class of arrangements which are generally intended to have such an experience (for more on Beardsley’s approach see the entry on Dewey).

It communicates an emotion or feeling. Art has the ability to connect with a person, and it can elicit an emotional response from the viewer. A good piece of art is something that can make you feel more alive or makes you think about things you never thought about before.

It is influential. Art can influence a whole generation and change the direction of a country’s politics or morality. For instance, Elizabeth Sirani’s painting Portia Wounding Her Thigh was meant to show that women are not as weak and prone to gossip as society believed at the time.

In addition to its influence, art is also entertaining and educational. It can teach us about other cultures and inspire us to be more tolerant of them. It can also give people a view of a different world that they might not otherwise get through the media or simply by talking with friends and family. When a piece of art creates awareness and brings light to a cause, it can make a difference in the lives of millions of people.