What Is Art?

Art is works produced by human creative imagination and skills to express emotions, beauty, ideas, stories. Art has a vast and complex meaning not able to be enveloped by a single answer. Exploring the visual and performing arts (Art, Music, Dance, Theater) provides a person or student with a sense of richness and diversity of human achievement from the beginning of time to the present. Evaluating significant works of art will improve your ability to think critically and to communicate in an informed manner about the arts. Hopefully, you will develop a lifelong appreciation of and commitment to exploring the arts and creating value to the importance of the arts in your personal life and your community. This is a value that contributes greatly to the intellectual and creative growth of the individual.

The reasons for the creation of art are as far-reaching as they are diverse. The universal urge to create (and to appreciate what others have created) defines us as human beings and sets us apart from other animals (akin to the ability to act in a planned/premeditated manner). Some universal themes, however, recur across the thousands of years of the history of art, including:

  • Relationships between man and nature/the natural environment
  • Religion
  • Sexuality and sexual drives (Freudian theory)
  • Display of power and authority
  • Demarcation of hierarchies and social rank
  • Capturing the magnificence or greatness of human existence
  • Vanity of the artist or art patron; display of the technical prowess of the maker
  • Pursuit of human perfection/beauty (classical antiquity/Renaissance)
  • Ability to create records and to tell narratives in the absence of written language


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Exploring the Arts Copyright © 2022 by LOUIS: The Louisiana Library Network is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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