Art - Term Overview

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Art is any form of expression of a creative nature that human beings have. It's the ability of man to represent his feelings, emotions and perceptions about his experiences and the environment that surrounds him.

Through the different artistic disciplines, an individual can express what he is and what he feels through an infinity of forms and techniques, among which the use of linguistic, plastic and sound resources stand out. In many countries, art is one of the most important components of culture.

Throughout history, the word "art" has spread throughout the world in all its forms. In the past, only some disciplines were considered art, such as painting, drawing, singing, literature and dance. Today the concept of art encompasses many more techniques and forms.

The advancement of technology is one of the fundamental pillars that allowed the creation and development of new forms of art. However, not all historians and philosophers agree with the definition of art today.

Commonly, the term "art" is confused with that of "craftsman." An artisan is one who reproduces multiple works and markets them, while, traditionally, art is considered to be based on unique and unrepeatable works.

Origin of art

The first artistic representations that are recorded date from prehistory: the Stone Age ( Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic) and the Metal Age. During this period (which lasted from the beginning of human evolution to 3000 BC) the first works of art emerged.

One of the artistic manifestations of which there is a greater quantity and quality of record is cave painting. Human beings that inhabited prehistory were characterized by having a nomadic lifestyle and living in caves.

Natural pigments, such as clay and rust, were used to make drawings on the stone of the caves ; in them they represented their lifestyle and what they observed in the environment that surrounded them. They painted animals ( lions, hyenas, horses, and rhinos) and hunting scenes.

Most of the cave paintings from this time are in caves within the present territories of France and Spain. These first artistic representations constituted what is called prehistoric art and, in many cases, were characterized by their figurative sense and their spiritual or religious character.

However, the discovery of paintings prior to the appearance of Homo sapiens suggests that rock art has a long cultural tradition and that it was started by Neanderthal man who inhabited more than 40,000 years ago.

Another prehistoric artistic record was the so-called "paleolithic venus", small statues of female figures carved in stone, wood, bone or clay that were used in fertilization rites.

Early civilizations also made tools and utensils out of stone, wood, and bone, although these are believed to have a utilitarian rather than artistic purpose.

The invention of writing ended the prehistoric era and began the rise of great civilizations in Egypt and Mesopotamia that developed a vast artistic identity.

Characteristics of the art

  • It's dynamic: Art is in constant transformation. The artistic representations vary over time and according to different societies or cultures.
  • It's subjective: Art is made up of original and unique artistic representations that can't be replicated. Each artist translates, interprets and represents the world according to her own point of view.
  • It's universal: Art and the ability to produce it's inherent to the human being. Artistic expressions are made by individuals and groups without distinction of culture, race or gender.
  • It's a means of expression: Art stands as the means of expression par excellence for the human being. Throughout history, man created and found various ways of transmitting and expressing emotions, opinions, thoughts and values through different artistic languages.
  • It's contemplative: Art doesn't have a utilitarian purpose. Its purpose is aesthetic and is considered a form of expression that seeks beauty.
  • It's a creative activity: Art is the creative activity par excellence. Through the different artistic disciplines, the human being uses his potential and capacities to create.
  • It's multidisciplinary: Art uses a multiplicity of tools and methods to be represented. The sound, writing, painting are some of the resources used in the art.

Importance of art

Art has a series of key functions for the development of the human being and of societies.

First, it contributes to the documentation and recording of the history of civilizations. The artistic records that exist of the different societies and cultures have allowed us to know the customs and identity of tribes and communities. Artistic expressions function as a medium for the transmission of values, culture and ways of seeing the world. They provide both group and individual testimony.

Art is a means for creative development and the channel of expression par excellence of the human being. Through the different artistic disciplines, the individual transmits emotions and feelings, and makes his vision of the world known. It's a key tool in education.

In addition, it's a channel for the individual to communicate with himself and with others; it works as a therapeutic and self-knowledge tool.

What are the artistic disciplines?

Art is usually represented through different artistic disciplines. All these types of art have been advancing over time. Among the most important are:

Visual arts

  • Architecture: Set of techniques used to project and specify the construction of houses and buildings. It's a process that includes the design of structures for future use, such as schools, institutions or hospitals. Centuries ago, architecture was made by processes very different from those of today, with other materials and construction methods.
  • Body art: Artistic discipline that uses the human body as a support. Within this type of art is makeup, costumes, piercings and tattoos.
  • Digital art: Artistic discipline that uses digital and technological means to make pieces. It's one of the most used artistic resources in recent years.
  • Cinematography: Artistic technique by which sequences of images are reproduced which creates a sensation of movement. Cinematography emerged in 1895.
  • Drawing: Artistic technique that is based on the graphic representation of any type of element. It's the best known type of art and one of the resources that works as a basis for other types of art.
  • Sculpture: Artistic technique that is based on the creation of works modeled with the hands with various types of materials such as clay, clay, wood or metal.
  • Photography: Technique based on the capture of any type of image that is moving or not. During the last years this technique has been advancing rapidly.
  • Cartoon: Artistic discipline that combines short stories with images and drawings that are captured in boxes or vignettes.
  • Painting: Artistic discipline in which images are created using color pigments. It's made on a large number of surfaces such as wood, paper, metal.

Literary arts

  • Poetry: Literary composition written in verse or prose that is used to express ideas, feelings and emotions.
  • Narrative: Literary composition written in prose that tells a story through a narrator. Among the most common forms are short stories and novels.
  • Drama: Literary composition based on the dialogue between two or more people. Through dialogue a story is presented in which the actions of the characters are developed.

Art and culture

Often the concept of art is associated with that of culture. The concept of culture is a broad term that encompasses all individual and collective manifestations of a given society. In other words, culture includes both art and the beliefs, traditions, values, and customs of a community.

Culture is made up of knowledge, tangible and intangible assets that convey the identity, history and way of seeing the world of a group of individuals and includes language, religion, clothing, gastronomy, visual arts, places historical.

There are different types of cultures that vary according to the elements that compose them and build their identity. Culture is transmitted from generation to generation and art is a fundamental component of all culture.

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