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What is an Artwork?

Definition of an artwork

An artwork of art is an aesthetic physical element or artistic creation.

The Potato Eaters, artwork by Van Gogh

Art has been a part of human culture in some capacity or other for thousands upon thousands of years. It serves as a medium of not only personal self-expression, but also as a way to communicate the artist's view of reality to other people. Art can also reflect cultural movements of a certain era, and most art reflects at least to some capacity the cultural norms and beliefs of the time in which they were created. As such, many great works of art serve as something of a conceptual time capsule, both in regards to the artist's mind and to society at large.

Art can manifest in a variety of mediums, and this is a huge consideration for the artist, who will ideally choose a method that will communicate his intention. For example, art can take the form of:

  • Paintings: visual art work where paint or ink is used on a canvas or, more often in the past, wooden panels or plaster walls, to depict an artist's rendering of a scene or even of an abstract, non-representational image.
  • Photography: visual art where an artist uses a keen eye to establishing aesthetically-pleasing composition in his photos.
  • Installations: where the art is an entire experience, often taking up a whole room, and is often designed to communicate to the viewer with several senses.
  • Found objects: a common aspect of pop art, where the artist finds an object that already exists in the world and either incorporates it into an installation, or displays it as-is, assigning it a meaning that it may not have had before.
  • Plays: a combination of storytelling and visual art, where actors play out a script in front of an audience. These stories usually have a plot and incorporate spoken lines, but they do not always, and can often also take the form of abstract art.
  • Architecture: a medium that combines both functionality and artistry, it is the art of designing the buildings that people will use. Architecture is closely related to sculpture, and both art forms are often found in the same spaces.

This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but these major examples demonstrate how wide art is and how powerful of a cultural force it can be..

According to the more common understanding, art is the creative production of objects or displays that have aesthetic or emotional significance, usually visually-oriented, but not always.

The ancient Greek philosophers Aristotle and Plato identified art as an imitation of nature, or a reflection of what the artist was seeing in the world. There are several schools of thought on what art really is, and these views have varied in the art world over time. For example, expressive theories represent the school of thought that art comes from an artist's emotional inner self. Formalist and processional theories, by contrast, seek less to define the source for the art, and simply see a work as self-contained and needing no justification. In aestheticism, art is seen as existing only to bring beauty to the world.

Author: arts3 Arts3 Network Website edition
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