What Is Art?


In its most basic form, art is a conscious creation that requires skill and imagination. Throughout history, the value of art has varied greatly. A painting by Jean Basquiat that sold for $110.5 million at a Sotheby’s auction in May 2017 would not have found an audience in Renaissance Italy. The term art is derived from the Latin word “ars,” which means “skill.” Its earliest known use is in 13th century manuscripts. The word has existed since the founding of the Roman Republic.

Historically, art has been understood as a means of communication, expression, and exploration of formal elements. Philosophers influenced by Martin Heidegger have interpreted art as a means of community building. In addition to defining art as a means of communication, art also has a social function, enabling it to promote awareness of and respect for different cultures. Art, therefore, has the potential to improve our communities by appealing to our common humanity.

While many people may think of art only in terms of beauty, art serves a very personal function. Whether a person is expressing an idea or an emotion, art can be used to express a worldview or basic human instincts. It is an opportunity to experience one’s own self in relation to the universe. It can be as unmotivated as a simple appreciation of art. There is no definite answer to what makes an art work “art” or “beautiful.”

Another way art is used to improve social conditions is by raising awareness about a specific topic. Art can be used as a vehicle to increase public understanding and respect of a subject, such as poverty or social injustice. This can even be used to create a better economic environment by promoting tourism in an area. By fostering cultural appreciation, art is an excellent tool for addressing global issues. Art has many benefits, including a positive impact on local economies.

In a recent case in Calgary, a public sculpture called Traveling Light has sparked a polarized debate, and it’s not surprising that the question of “what is art?” has become a hot topic at coffee shops. There are many different definitions of art, and everyone seems to have their own. Depending on their personal experiences, aesthetics, and knowledge base, each person’s definition of art is likely to be different.

One definition of art emphasizes the contingent nature of works. This definition is contingent on historical or cultural context. Other definitions emphasize the universality of art and its continuity with other aesthetic phenomena. Still others attempt to explain the contingent and abiding characteristics of art. These definitions differ significantly from each other, and they are not mutually exclusive. The latter definitions, though, have a shared goal, namely aesthetic value. And a number of other features, such as a common aesthetic purpose, may also be present in art.

Another definition of art that fails to emphasize the substantial unity of art is that it’s subjectivity. Depending on the subject, a person may perceive something as being a cocktail party, when it was actually a battle. In such a situation, the person’s own sensibilities may be overlooked. In contrast, a person’s perception of beauty in a piece of art may be completely different than another person’s. If they are unable to determine what constitutes a work of art, then they may find it difficult to understand what they are looking at.