Note: This is the first post in a two-post series. Read “Definition of Art…The Practical Standpoint” here.
What is Art?
This is a question that will result in a different answer each time someone tried to answer it – and this itself is one the core characteristics of art.
The Definition of Art
My Definition of Art would be:
Art is an expression of the creator’s imagination, presented through a form that generates an emotional or cognitive value for people by opening itself to multiple interpretations.
Definition of Art Explained
Let me explain this definition.
Art is an expression: Art has to be expressed in some form. An idea in the head of the artist isn’t art – to be considered as art it needs to be expressed in a form that allows it to reach people. The form could be visual, written, or even performed.
…of the creator’s imagination: The expression should involve imagination. (View Salvador Dali’s Gallery here.) The imagination component would manifest itself in the selection of colors, the composition of an artwork, the sequencing and presentation of content, or even the moves of a dancer.
…presented through a form that generates an emotional or cognitive value for people: Art has to be presented through a form that generates value for people, or it isn’t art. An expression of imagination that revolts people can’t be called art – unless the revulsion is interpreted as value by someone…then for that person, it could be art. (Read about “Artist’s Shit” by Piero Manzoni here.) Something that generates absolutely no emotional or cognitive response too can’t be called art.
…by opening itself to multiple interpretations: Art leads to multiple interpretations. Something that is interpreted in exactly the same way by everyone isn’t art. It may have a lot of functional utility though, for instance, the letters of the alphabet or the numbers 0 to 9 have their unique interpretations, and they don’t qualify as art.
However, if someone takes one of these numbers (or all these numbers) and expresses it in a manner that the expression generates an emotive or cognitive response from people and results in a personal interpretation for everyone…then the expression would qualify as art. (Refer to Robert Indiana’s Works.)
Note that I don’t speak of good art, bad art, or even popular art here. I am merely trying to define art by stringing all its components logically.
An Example of Art Analyzed!
Let me now review Mona Lisa, the most famous “artwork” in history, against this definition.
Mona Lisa is an expression of Leonardo da Vinci’s imagination (note that though it’s a portrait – yet it goes beyond just a photographic depiction), presented through a form that generates an emotional or cognitive value for people (through the form and content of the painting,) for people by opening itself to multiple interpretations. (The curiosity that Monalisa arouses through her mysterious expression, her almost androgynous face, her clothes, her lack of jewelery, and even her background – leads a viewer to his/her own interpretation of the painting, which in fact is the emotional/cognitive value.)
More Definitions of Art:
Find more definitions of art at the following links:
that was an academic-looking post, wasn’t it?
Await the next installment, “Definition of Art…The Practical Standpoint!” for a more humorous take 🙂 – Published:) Read “Definition of Art…The Practical Standpoint” here.