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The Meaning and Philosophy of Art

Art is a broad collection of human activities which involve an intention to exhibit artistic beauty, technical skill, beauty, strength, social power, or other emotional strength, and creative imagination. In addition to the above stated elements, art involves the application of knowledge acquired through culture, technology, experience, scholarship, or any other means. In its broad sense art can be understood to cover the following categories: literature, music, film, visual art, photographic art, sculpture, and literature. Within these broad boundaries the various art forms are specified, and they vary widely in form.

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Visual art comprises the visible aspects of art forms, and is usually displayed on a surface. These can include paintings, sculptures, photographs, drawings, computer graphics, and the like. Many visual art forms have grown out of traditional disciplines such as design, painting, architecture, and sculpture. Modern art usually avoids the use of many figurative elements in favor of pictures with textured surfaces. The objects of visual art are normally viewed from an upper perspective, in a way which emphasizes the visual aspects instead of the aesthetic qualities of the objects.

Artistic Beauty The beauty of an object is a subjective quality. The beauty of an object relates only to the observer’s subjective judgment of beauty. The reality and simplicity of things cannot be measured by a standard of common sense, and therefore art cannot be measured by a standard of beauty. Therefore, the definition of art should be relative to the observer. We may assign value to certain characteristics of beauty in our lives, for example a beautiful smile, lovely clothes, and so on.

The emotion expressed in art arises out of the beautification of the subject, the feelings of love, desire, power, sorrow, or admiration. For example, a work of art which depicts a black cat in a red house has a powerful message about beauty, and its loss is mourned by the viewer. On the other hand, a white cat in a yellow house may be an example of longing. In relation to emotions, both the yellow and red house may evoke very different emotions, but neither of them can be properly classified as ‘beauty’.

Defining Art The word ‘art’ was first used in the 17th century by the Italian friars who were said to have invented it. They were the first one to use the term in order to describe certain artistic qualities that they perceived in nature. Later this phrase became popular all over the world and was used to mean any work of art, irrespective of its nature. However, it was not until the nineteenth century that all artists began to think of their paintings as having a positive effect on the viewer.

There are many other important definitions in aesthetics, including the five elements of art, the object, the figure, the feelings, and the space. Each of these elements has its own significance in the creation of art and the combination of them brings about the beautiful beauty that we see today. However, the term ‘beauty’ itself, whether it is used in aesthetics or in art studies, cannot properly be defined because each person will have a personal preference. The only thing that we can define in terms of art is the emotional reaction that any work of art provokes in us.