Art originally was the processes of man (compare word artificial), and as such was synonymous with science. Nowadays it can be seen in essence the foremost expression of human creativity. As difficult to define as it is to evaluate, given that each individual artist chooses the rules and parameters that guide her or his work, it can still be said that art is the process and the product of choosing a medium, a set of rules for the use of that medium, and a set of values that determine what deserves to be expressed through that medium, in order to convey either a belief, an idea, a sensation, or a feeling in the most effective way possible for that medium. (See definition of art)
Artists, deliberately or not, work under the influence of other artists of the past and present, and much of the development of individual artists deals with finding structured principles for how to express certain ideas through various kinds of symbolism. For example Vasily Kandinsky famously developed his use of color in painting, through a system of stimulus response, where over time he gained an understanding of the emotions that can be evoked by color and combinations of color. Also, the traditional use of lilies denote death and red roses to evoke love are recurring themes in Western culture.
Opinions differ as to what can and cannot be defined as art; for example, can somebody make art if the creation was not intended to be art? Is art always a form of individual expression? Will a work of art only be art once it is finished? For a more in-depth discussion of these questions, see the article on the definition of art and read some quotations about art. Maybe art is only defined by what interests the audience at the time?
Types of art
There are many types of art; the history of art reaches back into prehistoric times. Today, art most often refers to the visual arts, specifically painting,printmaking and sculpture, photography, digital art, and poster art. Art also commonly refers to the fine arts, which include music, literature, poetry, dance, and the theater. An outgrowth of the theater is film and animation. Since the 1970s, media art has become increasingly important, with disciplines like video art, electronic art, internet art, installation art, wireless art and artistic computer game modification.
When something is done especially well, it can be considered art: a feat of engineering such as the Golden Gate Bridge can be seen as a work of art. Architecture is certainly a type of art: consider the Eiffel Tower or the Notre Dame cathedral. Architecture is the synthesis of art and science. Even computer programming can be art; many programmers see their day-to-day work as an artform, with poetic elegance and beauty in design. A whole new discipline of software art is emerging, too.
Art doesn't have to be solely for aesthetic purposes; arts and crafts deals with making useful things into art. Commercial art ("visual communication")
uses artistic methods to convey information such as advertising. Sometimes people make art out of random objects that weren't intended to be art; such art is called found art.
Oriental art and martial arts
Besides the wealth of Oriental paintings, architecture, etc, Eastern cultures seem to have a very wide definition of art. In many cases, art is part of a much deeper concept of spiritual development, perhaps including ideas such as self-mastery, working in harmony with with the laws of nature, etc.
In Japan, for example, many things have been practised and developed into artforms, through spiritual and mental discipline, incredible craftsmanship, and an extreme patience and willingness to master the medium. Hence, Martial Arts such as Kendo, Judo, etc.
While the term 'martial art' may sound like a euphemism or wishful thinking to some readers, traditions such as Kendo (a sword discipline) have been practised alongside Ikebana (flower arranging) and Haiku (poetry) for centuries, with many of the same techniques and even the same ultimate goals involved in each.
Asian civilisations have very ancient historical roots, and their artistic development reflects those roots admirably.
For the Celtic mythological figure Art, see Airt
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