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Sunday, April 13, 2008

What is art?

Understanding Art

By Redi Zartey

Art is anything that people add to their 'output' which is not functionally necessary and is other than the default properties of that output. The word "art" has been derived from the Latin word 'ars', which, loosely translated, means "arrangement" or "to arrange". This is the only universal definition of art, that whatever it is was at some point arranged in some way. There are many other colloquial uses of the word, all with some relation to its etymological roots. This word comes from the Greek technic meaning art.

Art and science are usually treated diagonally opposite to each other. While science means some phenomenon resulting in truth, which is universal and objective in nature. In other words, science findings can be repeated under the same set of circumstances anywhere in the world at any given point of time. Same cannot be said of art. Art, on the other hand is purely subjective in nature. Take for example, a painting - while one calls it a masterpiece, same feelings cannot be expected from other individual.

Art can roughly be divided into two, namely philosophical art and aesthetic art. The philosophical type of art involves human figures for some purposive actions. In other words, philosophical art depicts human condition or it is the conceptual frame of mind of the artist.

Aesthetic art, on the other hand, shows the perceived frame of mind. Two examples will help illustrate these two points of view - a Mona Lisa painting is philosophical art, while a demon being killed by a super human is aesthetic. These two categories are also called classical and modern art respectively.

There are other ways of classifying art - major among them being architecture, design, painting, music, drawing, literature, performing art, etc. While these have been (and still are) traditional forms of art performed by human kind, newer forms of art have emerged with the advent of technology. Some of the later era art forms are games, animation, movie, computer art, shooting, etc.

Two of the most researched areas of interest to artists, critiques and archeologists has been the art movement (or art history) and art school.

An art movement is a typical style or tendency in art with a specific common philosophy, followed by a group of artists during a restricted period of time (ranging from a few months to years or decades). Art school is any educational institute offering education to its students on various forms of art.

Birth of art gave rise to another group of individuals - art critics. Art critics study and evaluate a piece of art. Its main purpose is to rationalize the evaluation of art, and ridding of any personal opinion affecting the work of art. Art criticism today deploys systematic and formal methods to evaluate the piece of art.

Museums are known to nurture and store work of arts across the world. Early era museums were patronized by the then kings and emperors. Today these are maintained by governments or private trusts with or without public money. Three major museum institutes are British Museum, Museum of Modern Art, New York and Galerie des Offices in France.

Understanding art in its totality is almost an impossible task for a human being. There are over 3,600 terms in art to be understood. And these are not definitive in nature. Art is when you are free to redefine these.

Redi Zartey is the owner of Art Diz which is a premier resource for art information. for more information, go to

Article Source:

Lynne Taetzsch - EzineArticles Expert Author

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