Art is the process or product of deliberately arranging elements in a way that appeals to the senses or emotions. It encompasses a diverse range of human activities, creations, and modes of expression, including music, literature, film, sculpture, and paintings. The meaning of art is explored in a branch of philosophy known as aesthetics. The definition and evaluation of art has become especially problematic since the early 20th century.
Richard Wollheim distinguishes three approaches: the Realist, whereby aesthetic quality is an absolute value independent of any human view; the Objectivist, whereby it is also an absolute value, but is dependent on general human experience; and the Relativist position, whereby it is not an absolute value, but depends on, and varies with, the human experience of different humans. An object may be characterized by the intentions, or lack thereof, of its creator, regardless of its apparent purpose.
A cup, which ostensibly can be used as a container, may be considered art if intended solely as an ornament, while a painting may be deemed craft if mass-produced. Art is often intended to appeal to and connect with human emotion. It can arouse aesthetic or moral feelings, and can be understood as a way of communicating these feelings. Artists express something so that their audience is aroused to some extent, but they do not have to do so consciously. Art explores what is commonly termed as the human condition; that is, essentially what it is to be human.
Effective art often brings about some new insight concerning the human condition either singly or en masse, which is not necessarily always positive, or necessarily widens the boundaries of collective human ability. The degree of skill possessed by an artist will affect his or her ability to trigger an emotional response and thereby provide new insights; the ability to manipulate them at will shows exemplary skill and determination. Art, at its simplest, is a form of communication.
As most forms of communication have an intent or goal directed toward another individual, this is a motivated purpose. Illustrative arts, such as scientific illustration, are a form of art as communication. Maps are another example. However, the content need not be scientific. Emotions, moods and feelings are also communicated through art. “(Art is a set of) artifacts or images with symbolic meanings as a means of communication. ” This is a quotation from Steve Mithen in the book, The Prehistory of the Mind: The Cognitive Origins of Art, Religion and Science.
The nature of art has been described by Richard Wollheim as “one of the most elusive of the traditional problems of human culture”. It has been defined as a vehicle for the expression or communication of emotions and ideas, a means for exploring and appreciating formal elements for their own sake, and as mimesis or representation. Art allows the individual to express things toward the world as a whole. Earth artists often create art in remote locations that will never be experienced by another person. The practice of placing a cairn, or pile of stones at the top of a mountain, is an example. Note: This need not suggest a particular view of God, or religion. ) Art created in this way is a form of communication between the individual and the world as a whole. The purposes of art which are motivated refer to intentional, conscious actions on the part of the artists or creator. These may be to bring about political change, to comment on an aspect of society, to convey a specific emotion or mood, to address personal psychology, to illustrate another discipline, to (with commercial arts) to sell a product, or simply as a form of communication.
Art, at its simplest, is a form of communication. As most forms of communication have an intent or goal directed toward another individual, this is a motivated purpose. Illustrative arts, such as scientific illustration, are a form of art as communication. Maps are another example. However, the content need not be scientific. Emotions, moods and feelings are also communicated through art.