Art, the power of doing something not taught by nature or instinct; as, to walk is natural; to dance is an art; -- power or skill in the use of knowledge; the practical application of the rules, or principles of science. A system of rules to facilitate the performance of certain actions; contrivance; dexterity; address; adroitness.

Entry from Everybody's Cyclopedia, 1912.

I would like to call art indescribable, or undefinable because it means something different to every person. All I can really do is tell what art is to me. So, here goes... What I believe to be art is something that was intended to enrich the lives of others. It is something created by an artist with an intent to cause a reaction in humans and cats. Art can be audible, visible, readable, it can be written, drawn, painted, photographed, sung, played, sculped, thought, or any number of other things. as long as there was an intent for it to become art.

Art is a method of communication which unifies surface details and form while taking both the intended meaning and aesthetics into account. This requires significant amounts of problem solving. The artist is constantly asking, "How can I best express this idea without ruining the proportions of the work as a whole." This is where creativity comes in. See my node on creativity for more.

This compiles as many artists as I could find, and within each heading, lists them in more or less chronological order. I will add more headings as they come into existence, but for my own convenience I am setting this up prematurely. I still have the 20th Century to complete, but I'm done the last 3000 years so far, so I'm getting there.

So here it goes:

Greek Art (650 B.C. to 80 B.C.)

Medieval Art (550 A.D. to 1350 A.D.)

Renaissance (1350 to 1700)

Rococo (1700 to 1800)

Neoclassicism and Romanticism

Realism and Impressionism

Post-Impressionism, Symbolism and Art-Nouveau

20th Century Painters- this one lists each artist under the category he/she fits individually, due to the many artistic movements during the 20th century.

A BIG thank you goes out to Lometa, Pedro, and the other noders who have written the outstanding bios that exist on many of these artists. You guys are great.

According to Marcel Duchamp, Art is whatever I, as the artist, say it is. Whether or not this statement has any validity, I don't know.

Art, to me at least, has always been the ultimate expression of emotion. I my words can stutter, but my art is always what I mean to say.

Art has had many uses throughout history, everything from simple decoration of everyday objects, to informing the illiterate masses. Art is an integral element in any society, and to deny its importance is to deny the importance of expression. The modern view of art is that it is a frivolous afterthought, only for the rich, and this is shown through the massive cuts the art departments at most schools have taken recently. We understand the importance of science, math, and writing, but art is much more objective, and it is often seen as superfluous. But, without art, we would live in a cold, emotionless world[, lacking beauty and feeling. It is necessary to expose our children to art, just as we expose them to math and science, in order to help to expand their minds, and to teach them to think on multiple levels.

I currently am a freshman at Pratt Institute, a fine arts school in Brooklyn. I am learning the skills I need to relate my emotion and thoughts through art, just as a writer expresses them through words. I am so thankful for my opportunity to improve my skills, and to have a chance to work with my love, Art.

"art," may name the processes involved in the art world (i.e., ideation, creation, infusion, display, interpretation, re-infusion)...

or it simply names the object created with it's connotation...

or it names the tool used to communicate.

so, if i used the analogy of writing as visual art, we are either talking about "literature," "writing," or "grammar."

It has come to my attention that meaning is a tool I have used (and have an inkling everyone else uses) to keep life from being to dismal and boring to bear. I ended up seeing art as an empty exercise in installing meaning in a place where there simply is *none*.

(I have this thing with eliminating unessesary meaning, rather than some prescribed ideology like religion, or politics, and now (i cringe as i say it) art.) basically, "literature" is out.

Then there is the simple definition of art as an act of creation. No good for me, you get the dada contingent. I am impressed with dada's realizations, but the fact that the art is random discredits it. You wouldn't type 300 pages of random letters an attempt to pass it off as a novel with plot structure. I prefer art to be an attempt at communication through the randomness of insanity, rather than a scientific demonstration of chaos. I know about chaos, don't waste a canvas on it. So the "writing" factor may be eliminated.

Which leaves one with grammar, which i am actually liking for the moment. "art" (with a lowercase a), is a language system. A tool for communication. . .the art is only as good as the idea it is attempting to communicate. There is no arguing that the literature factor and the act of creation are important to this- the meaning you install in the action are what you might call Art (with a capital A).

The artists job is to learn the language concisely, so as that they can select quality (subjective, of course) ideas to communicate, and perhaps have a chance of creating something others may call "Art".

Unless, of course, you are working entirley outside the bonderies of definition, in which case you get visionary art. In this case, you are making art for art's sake, and hopefully don't require a defintion.

to add to sunhill's note...

Art is a play by Yasmina Reza. Since its premiere, it has been translated into thirty-five languages (originally written in French). It also won the Moliere award for it's eighteen month premiere run in France, won basically every major new play award in London in 1997 and the 1998 Tony in New York.

The deceptively simple play features three characters - Serge, Marc and Yvan. The plotline revolves around Serge's recent purchase of a modernist painting -- white lines on a white canvas -- for 200,000 francs. What begins as an argument over the worth of the painting evolves to a full fledged fight between the three characters, threatening a fifteen year friendship between Marc and Serge.

Ironically titled, Art is not really about art. It is a play about the nature of friendship, loyalty, honesty and social status. The painting serves as a vehicle that exposes the true nature of Serge and Marc's relationship. Although tackling some heavy issues the play is hilarious and manages to provoke both laughter and thought, and makes for some great discussion afterwards.

"The term artist isn't intelligible to me if it doesn't entail making."
-Tom Stoppard

I don't know much about art, but I know what I like. And what I don't like. Half a dead cow in formaldehyde is not art - it's not even a meal - it's just a dead animal. Damien Hirst is a talented man, but that will never be his finest hour. Tracey Emin, on the other hand, is just mad. A dirty mattress covered in used condoms? Marvellous, award her the Turner Prize at once.

This is one of the main problems with art, or at least, modern art, and probably the main reason most people think it's a load of pretentious bollocks. These "artists" foist this shite upon us and act as if we're the stupid ones for not understanding it. It's not art, Tracey, it's a dirty mattress. Change the fucking sheets. Sorry Damien, but that's not art either. It's a dead cow. You didn't create it, didn't draw it or sculpt it or whatever - you just sliced it in half and stuck it in a glass case. Now put it in the bin before it stinks the place out.

The Turner Prize is supposed to be a reward for outstanding art. The 2001 winner was Martin Creed. He got £20,000 for his masterwork, an empty room with the lights going on and off repeatedly. What? I mean, what? It's not even a bad painting or an ugly sculpture, it's just an empty room. The runners up: Mike Nelson, with a storeroom full of junk - titled, of course, Cosmic Legend of the Uroboros Serpent. Isaac Julien, whose film about gay cowboys in a swimming pool was involved in a legal battle with Julien's previous collaborator over who contributed the most towards it - although I'd keep quiet if I were them, in case Matt Stone and Trey Parker decide to sue (strong echoes of the South Park film festival movie about gay cowboys eating pudding). Richard Billingham, with a home video of his alcoholic dad waking up to a nice cup of tea. Last night I accidentally switched the bathroom light off as I went into it, because it was already on - I quickly switched it back on again, but nobody awarded me a prize. I keep meaning to clean out my old rubbish from my wardrobe, but am frankly puzzled at the lack of praise and media attention I am receiving for my "installation". And as for my home video of my girlfriend shitting on to a glass coffee table while I lie underneath masturbating, well, it hasn't even been shortlisted.

You know, I'm not totally against modern, abstract art, strange looking things, modern pieces - I love ideas that shake people up, break new ground, challenge the status quo, and good art can do all that and more. But Christ, if you're just going to embalm something or piss on your bed, you may as well give the Turner Prize to an undertaker, or someone who doesn't shower much. Many of the artists don't even build the things themselves, they just design it and hand it over to their team of engineers, who would deserve the award purely for their ingenuity in constructing the objects.

Why not give the prize to someone talented? Or at the very least, give it to a painter - you know, someone who uses paint on a canvas to make a picture that looks vaguely like something. Turner was a painter. Would he even get shortlisted now, without taking a photo of his arse and calling it "The End of the Beginning"?

A friend of mine, who went to art college, specialises in that weird kind of art where you paint pictures of things, or sculpt stuff. He's bloody good, too. At art college, he was the only one in his class who could actually draw or paint. He got the lowest marks in a project once, because - get this - they said his painting was "too representational". In other words, it looked too much like the actual object that he was painting. Fucking hell! And if that wasn't bad enough, the project of the year award went to a girl who had come up with the innovative idea of covering a deckchair in jam. I shit you not. I couldn't make this stuff up. It was actually a deckchair covered in jam. And that was project of the year. I don't know what flavour jam it was, but it must have been pretty fucking revolutionary.

I'd like to share the neoist definition of art:

Art is not genius' creation but rather practice of PR-activities.

The definition makes sense when you think about any established artist: Whatever the cunt does, it's of great value. Thus art is merely an expensive tag the cultural elite stamps on an esthetically classificable, consumable product. Situationists highlighted the absurdity of art industrializing the painting; by producing a painting that was tens of meters long and was sold like wallpapers, by meters. And when it actually turned out to be a commercial success they simply raised the price/meter.

One can also justly compare art to medicine: You dislike both but you should have your regular fix every now and then because they make you better person: Consumption of entertainment proves that you are culturally sick. Therefore you must eat doctor's (= art critic) order.

Art (#).

The second person singular, indicative mode, present tense, of the substantive verb Be; but formed after the analogy of the plural are, with the ending -t, as in thou shalt, wilt, orig. an ending of the second person sing. pret. Cf. Be. Now used only in solemn or poetical style.

<-- p. 85 -->

© Webster 1913.

Art (#), n. [F. art, L. ars, artis, orig., skill in joining or fitting; prob. akin to E. arm, aristocrat, article.]


The employment of means to accomplish some desired end; the adaptation of things in the natural world to the uses of life; the application of knowledge or power to practical purposes.

Blest with each grace of nature and of art.


A system of rules serving to facilitate the performance of certain actions; a system of principles and rules for attaining a desired end; method of doing well some special work; -- often contradistinguished from science or speculative principles; as, the art of building or engraving; the art of war; the art of navigation.

Science is systematized knowledge . . . Art is knowledge made efficient by skill.
J. F. Genung.


The systematic application of knowledge or skill in effecting a desired result. Also, an occupation or business requiring such knowledge or skill.

The fishermen can't employ their art with so much success in so troubled a sea.


The application of skill to the production of the beautiful by imitation or design, or an occupation in which skill is so employed, as in painting and sculpture; one of the fine arts; as, he prefers art to literature.

5. pl.

Those branches of learning which are taught in the academical course of colleges; as, master of arts.

In fearless youth we tempt the heights of arts.

Four years spent in the arts (as they are called in colleges) is, perhaps, laying too laborious a foundation.


Learning; study; applied knowledge, science, or letters.


So vast is art, so narrow human wit.


Skill, dexterity, or the power of performing certain actions, asquired by experience, study, or observation; knack; a, a man has the art of managing his business to advantage.


Skillful plan; device.

They employed every art to soothe . . . the discontented warriors.


Cunning; artifice; craft.

Madam, I swear I use no art at all.

Animals practice art when opposed to their superiors in strength.


To black art; magic.



Art and part ScotsLaw, share or concern by aiding and abetting a criminal in the perpetration of a crime, whether by advice or by assistance in the execution; complicity.

The arts are divided into various classes. The useful, mechanical, or industrial arts are those in which the hands and body are concerned than the mind; as in making clothes and utensils. These are called trades. The fine arts are those which have primarily to do with imagination taste, and are applied to the production of what is beautiful. They include poetry, music, painting, engraving, sculpture, and architecture; but the term is often confined to painting, sculpture, and architecture. The liberal arts (artes liberales, the higher arts, which, among the Romans, only freemen were permitted to pursue) were, in the Middle Ages, these seven branches of learning, -- grammar, logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. In modern times the liberal arts include the sciences, philosophy, history, etc., which compose the course of academical or collegiate education. Hence, degrees in the arts; master and bachelor of arts.

In America, literature and the elegant arts must grow up side by side with the coarser plants of daily necessity.

Syn. -- Science; literature; aptitude; readiness; skill; dexterity; adroitness; contrivance; profession; business; trade; calling; cunning; artifice; duplicity. See Science.

© Webster 1913.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.