Home Forums What is Art? Art History? What is Art? What is Art History? Reply To: What is Art? What is Art History?

Allie Eby

Part I: What is Art? If you do just a quick internet search you will come up with many definitions of art. None of them are perfect but all make for good discussion. Choose a definition that you disagree with and one that you see merit in and tell us why.

One definition I largely agree with defines art as “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.” I agree very much with this definition, in that it specifies “art” as a general term for skill-based creative works created by humans (though I would argue that some other intelligent creatures such as birds and apes are also capable of making art, but that is a completely different debate).
One definition I find a good bit of fault in defines art as “subjects of study primarily concerned with the processes and products of human creativity and social life, such as languages, literature, and history (as contrasted with scientific or technical subjects).” This not only discredits the role of creative thinking within scientific fields, but also severely limits the range of what art can be. It also completely discounts the technical skills and aspects that are present and in fact necessary in many forms of art, defining them as non-scientific and non-technical, which is in many ways inaccurate to my understand of art as a field.

Part II: What is Art History? Why do we study the history of art? How does it help us understand the world in which we live?

Art history is, in a nutshell, the study of art as a medium and its technical and cultural significance throughout human history. We study art for many reasons. For example, art produced in a specific time period and culture can hold a great deal of information about said time and place. Knowing the history of art helps artists know where we have come from in regards to technical advancements and methods, give references to methods of producing art that would otherwise not exist, and also allows the general public to better grasp where they come from culturally.