A Brief Discussion on the Definition of Art

Essay by BeDazzled2525University, Master'sA+, April 2004

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Art is a very complicated and thorny subject. It can be a source of heated discussion in the same way as religion or politics. One person's idea of art can be very, very different from another person's view, and the disparity between them can lead to harsh words and hurt feelings.

By simple dictionary definition, art is the product of human creativity. It is the human effort to imitate, supplement, alter, or counteract the works of nature. However, in actual usage it's meaning can be poles apart. It is really much more subjective in connotation. As previously acknowledged, from one single person to the next the definition can be wildly dissimilar. So, then, what is the meaning of art in practice?

Art begins in the eye of the beholder. If the viewer responds emotionally, if the work provokes thought, humor, passion, compassion, then it is art. A violinist who has mastered his instrument cannot compare to the violinist whose playing, though flawed, brings the listener to tears.

Though a work may affect only a single person in this way, it must still be considered art if only for that single person's enjoyment

In the higher strata of society, art conforms more strictly to the dictionary definition. Something is only be considered art if the 'educated' art critic informs the cultured thespians that it is indeed 'art.' At this level, art is more of a status symbol than object of gratification. To appreciate the 'right kind of art' is to inform the rest of society that one is educated and in vogue. In this usage, the meaning is a distant term to the user, something incomprehensible yet necessary for social acceptance.

For my personal use, art is something that is a little bit of all three. It is something that imitates...