The Functions of Art


Art is a diverse form of human creative expression and storytelling that communicates ideas, emotions, impressions, judgements, visions, and spiritual meanings across time and space. It is a cultural practice that has evolved into innovative, stylized and sometimes intricate forms through sustained and deliberate study, training and theorizing within a tradition. The arts are distinct from other modes of human expression such as literature, music and poetry.

There are multiple purposes of art, some based on a need to communicate something specific to a targeted audience while others may be motivated by the artist themselves. The art world is constantly changing and experimenting with new mediums to extend the boundaries of expression. For example, painters have experimented with adding sculpture to their canvass or even using electricity to operate coloured kinetic panels and boxes in their compositions.

One of the earliest and most fundamental functions of art is the communication of beauty. Artists are motivated by a desire to create beautiful works of art. This beauty is the result of a balance and harmony of colors, shapes and forms that appeal to the senses. Often, the beauty of a work of art can also evoke emotion or awe in its viewers.

Another function of art is to inspire creativity in its viewers. This could be done through the use of specific techniques, a narrative or by encouraging thought about the history of the work. The purpose of inspiring creativity is a more philosophical one and it may be why the arts are so influential to our lives.

The final function of art is to stimulate discussion and debate. This can be through a work of art’s historical or political context as well as the way it is presented or displayed in the public domain. In the past, many art works were deemed to be controversial because of their content or style, though it is rare for a work of art today to provoke controversy.

Some people have defined art as the ability to make a living by creating and selling artistic creations. However, this definition is becoming increasingly less common and it has been criticized for excluding other forms of artistic expression such as literature, poetry and music. The definition of art is largely a matter of taste, and what one finds beautiful or appealing may not be appreciated by everyone.

Regardless of the purpose of art, it is important for individuals to have an outlet for creative expression. Not only does it help individuals to feel healthier and happier, but it can also lead to a greater sense of self-worth. Whether one chooses to create visual art such as painting, drawing or collaging, or a more literary outlet such as writing poetry or essay, the act of creative expression can help promote mental health. In fact, making art can induce what is known as flow state, which activates several brain networks including the relaxation response and heightened theta wave activity.