What Is Art?

Whatever else art may be, it is certainly an activity which creates an emotional link between the artist and the audience. This can happen largely through the simplicity of the artist’s rendering of a particular subject, and the ability of the artist to translate his or her vision into what is seen as beautiful, as well as clear and genuine.

The connection between the artist and the audience may be best achieved if there is a common cultural or civilization experience which has been built up over long term. Art is not so much a thing as it is a way of achieving a pleasurable response. In art we may find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. Nevertheless, the artist takes a risk that something out front of where we might be will be well-received. Art may thus transcend the artist’s self-interest. Art is in a sense also autobiographical as Federico Fellini noted in 1965, in the same sense that “the pearl is the oyster’s autobiography.”

There are many questions you can ask about art, none of which are that easily answered. All of those questions may have a bearing on what art is. You may ask: 1. What is art for? 2. What does art do? 3. Does art have a purpose? 4. Does art have some grand function in the overall scheme of things?

In any endeavor or intellectual skill that we try to develop, there is an art to it. For example, we may collect equipment, learn how to operate it. We have the formal skill necessary to do the activity, but to do it well may mean understanding the underlying art of the activity–such as 1. playing baseball, 2. taking photographs with an up-to-date digital camera, 3. engaging in politics or conversation about any subject. In each case there is a knowledge base you must achieve, but there is also an underlying art to doing it well. The underlying art goes beyond the basic knowledge of the subject. This does not mean that every outcome will be a work of art, but it does mean that given a certain level of knowledge you are doing something about as well as it can be done.

In summary, art has many facets. Yet there remain many questions, most of which may never be answered. Yet, it is alwasy fun to try.

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