Purpose of art

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Purpose of art

From Nick

Published before 2005


At 09:43 AM 2/9/99 -0600, Chris wrote:
So now can all of us deliver our opinions as to the purpose of Art ?

I think the purpose of Art is like dance, or music. It's one of the ways we humans show off to one another. We enjoy exhibiting our virtuosity in any complex skill and we similarly enjoy being amazed by the sheer mastery someone else shows in a given discipline.

The discipline of art is concerned with the elements of beauty. So it is the control of composition, flow, form, weight, balance, color, depth, etc. to produce something beautiful which defines artistry.

The allure of beauty is not only that it is attractive, but also that it is elusive. Ugly is easy. Plain, boring, or messy is easy. It is only because beauty is rare and hard to capture that good art is both appealing and deserving of our respect.

I've heard it argued that some art is actually ugly, but there seem to be only two types of examples proffered to support this view. One is the genuinely ugly Modern stuff, but that only works as a counterexample if it is agreed that stuff is art. (And I, for one, don't agree.) The other is art like Balinese ritual masks, gargoyles, certain Art Nouveau motifs and such, but I contend that those are actually beautiful representations of the grotesque.

I've also heard it argued that art proper should not be considered a discipline, because structure and rules are nothing but obstacles to creativity and expressiveness. Horse manure. That's like saying language is an impediment to communication. It is the rules and boundaries which make creativity and expressiveness possible. There can be no virtuosity without a discipline. There can be no ingenuity without constraints. There can be no surprise or nuance without expectation. To use a musical analogy, hammering out some arrhythmic, aleatoric cacophony of notes on a piano does not yield more creative music than crafting a highly structured and complex interplay of melody, countermelody, and metrics. In fact, it doesn't even yield music at all. Random hammernoise gives us nothing to think about, nothing to talk about, and there is no reason we need waste any of our all-too-finite time on it. Visual noise is similarly deserving of our collective indifference. It takes no creativity to tear down rules. And producing a thing without any constraints is indistinguishable from producing that thing without any skill or artistry at all.

My $.002 worth
Nick