30 September 2010

What Is Art?

What is Art?

Once upon a time, we believed that art is a form of expression that separates us from animals.

Recently we've seen other primates create finger paintings and demonstrate awareness of "self," so this definition is outdated.

Some believe that art is the expression of the perfection found in nature. The perfectly proportioned spiral of a nautilus or moon snail is universally beautiful. The repeating pattern of the seeds of a mature sunflower proves that math and nature are one in the same, as evidenced by the Golden Number.

For those who may not know, the Golden Number (1.618) occurs throughout nature, and in humans as well. For some, this is proof of a Creator. For others, it is proof that math rules the universe; Order out of Chaos.

Creations by humans mimicking these natural forms are typically considered beautiful, and would therefore be considered art by most people.

The lines of the above paintings exhibit nature's perfection in perspective; the paintings were created using math. But not all art fits this mold.

Some people think that outsider art, such as that above, is beautiful in that it confronts the viewer with a radical departure from constraints imposed by Nature and Tradition.
It may be a splash of color and some random form, yet is considered art.

So what is art? [Note: The question is NOT "What is good art?"]

 Perhaps it is where the application of skill in creation is intended to be viewed by humans?
Pima Basket.

What about sculptures that were created for use by the dead in the afterlife?

What about "primitive" art created by humans to be seen only by the gods or the spirits of animals?

I put forward, for your consideration, the following definition:

Art is that which is created, and is perceived to be as such by humans.


  1. I believe a certain gent going by the moniker "Modern Primate" offered a thorough refutation of said definition in another forum...

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Aforementioned monkey is free to copy/paste.

  4. If I didn't already, I recommend The Cover Artist by Paul Micou. Teaser: It introduces the subject of "canine expressionism."