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What is Art?

art, n., “the quality, production, expression, or realm of what is beautiful, or of more than ordinary significance.” Next to, politics, religion and sex, there is no subject that is more personal or likely to arouse controversy than the answer to the question: What is art?

Since prehistoric man first painted the images of his next meal on cave walls, art has been evolving and evoking a response from others. Once an artist creates a work of art, whether it is painting or sculpture, the questions soon arise: What is it? Who is it? Where is it? What does it mean? And just as a psychiatrist’s inkblots will look different to each individual, so too, will a work of art.

After all, beauty and meaning truly are in the eye of the beholder. However, as the sheer mass of art created by Man (and woman) has grown over the centuries there was a natural desire to place order to the vast amount of artistic production. Early art historians attempted to organize art by assigning categories and sub-categories to the art produced by the many years of artistic output. The results of these well-intentioned efforts can be overwhelming to most people.

The great thing about art is that you can enjoy it without having any specific knowledge about what movement a painting is from, when it was painted, or even who painted it. So why learn about art? For a different perspective, for context, but mainly to answer the stream of questions that flood into your head when you see a piece of art that moves you.

In the coming weeks and months, Art a GoGo will bring you a series of articles dedicated to becoming familiar with the world of art. Remember, learning about art doesn’t have to be like sitting through a flossing lecture by your dental hygienist--it can be fun and entertaining, as well!

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