Definition Essay - What is Art?

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Definition Essay - What is Art? There are few questions quite as esoteric or as futilely subjective as the philosopher's "What is…?" Yet posing and answering this question in reference to the identity of art is critical to further discussions of our subject matter in this course. There is no way for us to discuss art until we have a working definition of what art is; we can't adequately use the term until we've defined it. To this end, I would like to submit this as a working definition: "Art is anything created for the purpose of communicating the sensations of emotional response to, or creating emotional response in, those who experience it." There are three advantages to this sort of a definition for…show more content…
Under this definition, an object such as a sculpture or rug remains art even if it remains unseen for a long period of time or is no longer considered aesthetic. Of course, this definition is still rather vague. What do we consider emotional response? If the creator of a piece is long-dead or tight-lipped, how can we know that a communication of emotion was intended in its creation? This ambiguity in the definition is an acceptable one, as it still allows us to discuss the artistic nature of individual pieces without feeling constrained to a rigid model of art. It is a definition that allows us enough "room to maneuver" while narrowing the range of discussion enough that we can talk coherently about art. This definition also naturally produces another set of questions for each piece under analysis. Once we have determined that a given object is art, we are immediately inclined to analyze it. The first such question is, "What was the artist attempting to accomplish?" This is a question of intent, and is integrally tied in with the historical and personal environment of the artist. An answer to this question can help us understand why the art exists at all, and can help us appreciate it as it was intended to be appreciated. The second question that comes from the above definition is, "How well did the artist do in his attempt?" This is a question of effectiveness. It is much more

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