THIS is the beginning . . . Because somewhere between not knowing . . . and knowing . . . there lies imagination . . . THIS, THAT and THE OTHER . . . Book 1 . . . OUT NOW . . . THIS is the beginning . . . Because somewhere between not knowing . . . and knowing . . . there lies imagination . . . THIS, THAT and THE OTHER . . . Book 1 . . . CLICK HERE . . .
CURRENT : 'THIS' - new epic fantasy novel : Part One and Part Two : OUT NOW

FUTURE : 'THIS' Part Three : Summer 2017
Writer in Residence : Plas Tan y Bwlch, Maentwrog : September 2017
Solo exhibition at Oriel Maenofferen, Blaenau Ffestiniog : Winter 2017


Wednesday, 2 December 2009

What Is Art?

“I don’t know much about Art, but I know what I like… ”

This old cliché may be one of the best definitions we can agree on! There has always been difficulty in defining exactly what Art is. The perceptions of aesthetics vary so much from culture to culture (even from person to person). The definition of art is closely linked to the aesthetics of the culture that produced it. Oh no! Now there are two more words that we need to define: ‘Aesthetics’ and ‘Culture’… perhaps art is its own definition and the art a culture produces, defines that culture.

The word, ‘art’ comes from the Roman Latin word, ‘ars’ – meaning ‘art’ – which they defined as ‘a thing of beauty that was of human (as opposed to natural) origin’. (I think it's pronounced 'arz' but it gets more laughs if you say 'arse'.) Hence other similar words such as ‘artificial’, ‘artifice’... but just because something is artificial, it does not mean it is art… which means that there has to be a judgement of whether the thing is beautiful or not. So, what is ‘beauty’? And...

We’re right back to cultural differences and aesthetic perceptions…

In antiquity, there was not just ‘art’, there were ‘the arts’, which were perceived to be of two orders:

The first order were the liberal arts, or artes liberales, which were: Grammar, Logic, Rhetoric, Geometry, Arithmetic, Astronomy, Music and Philosophy – which was the highest of all and from which all other arts were derived. Aesthetics was a philosophy of beauty.

The second, lesser, order of arts were the technical arts: Architecture, Agriculture, Painting, Sculpture… and other manual Crafts, which seems closest to how most people think of 'the arts' today. (Perhaps we should show more cultural appreciation for the farmers' ploughed furrows as eARTh art.)

So what is art? I don't think there will be a definitive answer, though we can explore and discuss what makes good, or at least sucessful, art. That is a thread that I expect will run through this blog.

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