Definition Essay - Does Art Defy Definition
Length: 457 words (1.3 double-spaced pages)
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According to Webster’s Dictionary, art is “human expression of objects by painting, etc” (10). The words “human experience” adds meaning to art. Artists reveal their inner thoughts and feelings through their work. When we study a painting by Salvador Dali, the strange objects and the surrealist background portrays the eccentricity of the painter. Some ideas cannot be explained verbally. They can only be shown via a medium. We can get across what is in our minds or our hearts by a stroke of a brush, a drop of paint, a row of words, or something else. But to express ourselves, we do not need to limit what we call art.
We encounter art everyday. Art is paintings and sculptures, music and dance, film and photography. It is also fashion designing and architecture, novels and magazines. These seemingly different things have one thing in common – they are all ways in which humans convey themselves. For thousands of years, humans have used symbols to tell a story or describe a struggle. Art is the use of these symbols, symbols that represent us in some distinct way.
Unlike science, art is subjective. The artist leaves behind a part of himself in his work. Therefore, each piece has its own distinct perspective. Frida Kahlo’s self-portraits show her view on her life, on how she has faced so many struggles, yet managed to be a strong person. When we see or hear or read an artistic creation, it produces a mood such as calm or loud, fear or safety. For example, the Eiffel Tower gives Paris a majestic awe; everyone who passes by feels the strength of the 113-year-old grand structure. Art also has a texture. Photographs reveal much through their textures; grainy surfaces often make the picture more realistic while smooth ones seem softer. When we hear a piece of music or see a film, a rhythm carries us from one part to another. Not just true for these two genres, rhythm is present in any artistic work. These few properties are characteristic of everything we encounter in the world of art, the world of human expression. Most have other special features also. Most of the time, though, we do not think about these characteristics because we do not have enough time to pay attention to anything for more than a few seconds.
We must, however, realize that we cannot escape art. Art is not just paintings, murals, and statues. Nor just color, charcoal, oils, and acrylics. Or pencils, brushes, and picks. Art is all of this and much more. Until we recognize what is all that is art, we cannot begin to appreciate. And until we appreciate art, we cannot begin to understand it.