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A Theory of Art - Essay Example

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The task of describing the physical properties and nature of the world around us often defies our efforts, such as when we attempt to describe the colour purple without the benefit of having any other colour to use as a reference. Beauty, grace, and melody are also ill-equipped for definition without a cultural or social context to frame the definition…
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A Theory of Art
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Download file to see previous pages Art is an important part of the life experience as it evokes feelings and emotions that attach themselves to the work in question and portrays the meaning of our culture. Yet, society continues to struggle with the definition of art. Art defies description; we may know it when we see it, but we can not define it as it is too complex, varied, and prone to individual subjectivity.
To define art, it is first necessary to define where the art is at. The art may be the act of its production, the end result, or the sensation that the viewer experiences from the encounter. To be considered art, all three components must be consciously involved in its production. As an example, if a paint can inadvertently spills onto a canvas, it is not art even if it is beautiful. There was no action on the part of the artist that would elevate an accidental spill to the level of art. Likewise, if the art produces no sensation in the viewer, such as a bottle of urine, then the art has no artistic content no matter how much time and effort the artist spent. Allowing a work to be labelled 'art' that does not meet these requirements results in the flood of mediocrity, and worse, that has recently come to the attention of the popular media. Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres described these types of works in the 18th century as, "banality, which is a public scourge, which afflicts taste and burdens the administration, fruitlessly absorbing resources, it would be best to abandon exhibitions; to declare boldly that only monumental painting be encouraged" (cited in Harrison, Wood, & Gaiger, 1998, p.469). Ignoring this important aspect of art has been responsible for inappropriate bodily fluids being labelled and accepted as mainstream art.
The standard definition of art includes the traditional view that artwork is characterized by the possession of representational properties, expressive properties, or formal properties (Adajian, 2007). This definition also would include many items that are not art and were never intended to be art. A shopping list would not be considered art, yet may qualify under this generic definition. This simplistic set of requirements is not complete enough and is too broad to be of any value. While it may describe some objects and acts that are not art, it stops far short of defining what art is. To accommodate and update this traditional definition, recent decades have seen a surge of theories and movements designed to justify new and unusual art forms.
Any theory or movement that adequately defines art and aestheticism would be necessarily narrow and exclusionary. While some schools of art, such as the Dada movement believes that anything can be art, other movements, such as minimalism, believe that nothing is art. These extreme positions, in regards to the definition of art, only serve to include every worldly endeavour as artistically worthwhile, but do little to help define art. In fact, these broad, nihilistic, and inclusive movements dilute art's purpose, meaning, and cultural value. Art needs to be defined within a set of boundaries that are acceptable by cognitive recognition and reflect a sense of values. This does not imply that the values need to adhere to any preconceived framework of acceptability. While racism may be an unacceptable human value, its portrayal could serve ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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