The definitions of art are plenty since this concept proves elusive and difficult to define in one sentence. For example, MSN Encarta provides the following definition:
Art, the product of creative human activity in which materials are shaped or selected to convey an idea, emotion, or visually interesting form (MSN Encarta, 2006).
This definition is different from the one offered by Oregon State University:
Human endeavor thought to be aesthetic and have meaning beyond simple description. Includes music, dance, sculpture, painting, drawing, stitchery, weaving, poetry, writing, woodworking, etc. A medium of expression where the individual and culture come together (Oregon State University).
These principles apply to various art forms. They are true for El Greco’s painting “John the Apostle” where the author tries to impress the viewer with the intellectual view and sadness of the prophet going beyond description. The material used by the author conveys the idea of human intellect and refined feelings.
An example of sculpture is Emperor Tiberius’ terracotta bust currently stored at the Victoria and Albert Museum (Wikipedia, 2006). The object of art is descriptive in the sense that it portrays the emperor. However, the sculptor, as the last definition of art suggests, has a “conceived image” in mind, namely one of a wise and authoritative monarch. This image is portrayed using a specific person and a given medium (enamel).
Printmaking is not much different from painting. Using lines placed on the surface, it can create a variety of aesthetically appealing images. An example is the image of a rabbit available from St. Louis Fair website.
The Jumeirah Mosque in Dubai also fits the definition of art. Using the medium of the architectural form, the author conveys the image of a light, aerial structure that fits the saint nature of the place. His activity is creative, and he is focused on creating something that will have aesthetic appeal.
The photo “Still life Japanese style” at photography-on-the.net fits the definition of art because the photographer uses the picture to convey a cultural meaning that can be considered an idea. He also applies a visually interesting form, placing the flowers against the background of the wall.
Charlene Teters’ installation “Route 66 Revisited: It Was Only an Indian” reminds powerfully of the impact of tourist routes and travel on Indian communities. This idea governs the combination of objects in this piece, making it art because it reaches beyond description, stating the author’s social and even political position.
Performance art combines elements of dancing, theatre, music and other arts to express an aesthetic idea. Thus, Gaspard Buma uses performance art in order to deliver the idea of human emotion as measured by the electrodes on his chest. His performance called the “Inner Voice” is art, in the last definition provided since it expresses a given idea or conceived image through appropriate means.
Conceptual art is perhaps the most “non-artistic” form of art. Yves Klein, for instance, in his “Leap in the Void” (1960), has a deeper idea in mind than just jumping out of the window: he tries to show that the artist can make a constant masterpiece of one’s life. He expresses this idea through direct action, which is conventional means in conceptual art, which makes this event a piece of art since it has both form and idea.
Arrakeen. (2003). Dubai: the United Arab Emirates. Retrieved August 30, 2006, from www.arrakeen.ch/dubai/dubaijan03.html
Kern High School District. (n.d.). Art. Retrieved August 30, 2006, from www.khsd.k12.ca.us/bhs/Perry/art%20vocabulary.htm
Buma, G. (n.d.). Retrieved August 30, 2006, from http://www.gaspardbuma.org/rubrique7.html
Greco, El. (n.d.). John the Apostle. Retrieved August 30, 2006, from www.catholic-forum.com/saints/saintj13.htm
Installation Art: Charlene Teters. Retrieved August 30, 2006, from http://www.rhythmsoftheglobe.com/gr/vi_painting_Charlene.htm
Klein. Y. (1960). A Leap in the Void. Retrieved August 30, 2006, from www.metmuseum.org
MSN Encarta. (2006). Art. Retrieved August 30, 2006, from http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761556523/Art.html
Oregon State University. (n.d.). Glossary. Retrieved August 30, 2006, from oregonstate.edu/instruct/anth370/gloss.html
Still life Japanese style. Retrieved August 30, 2006, from www.photography-on-the.net