Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What is Art? And More Importantly--Why is it Important?

What is Art? And More Importantly--Why is it Important?

Art is a lot of things. It can't be given a single definition. It has many purposes. To send a message. To tell a story. To beautify. To inspire. To connect. To express a feeling or emotion. To immortalize a person or event (especially applicable before we had cameras). To amuse or entertain. To shock. To decorate the bare spot above your couch. (The last one was kind of a joke.)

Some artists create purely for the process of creating. It's fun, it's therapeutic, it's exhilarating. They're driven to create. Some even hide or destroy their work when it's finished. They got what they wanted from the experience, so the end product is useless to them. Some artists create for the final outcome. They have something they want to express to the world. Most artists fall into both categories--the process of creating and the final result brings them equal amounts of satisfaction.

I think life can be both beautiful and ugly--depending on how you look at it. However, I think most people are struggling with the state the world is in right now. We live in a screwed up world, and if you turn on the news, you'll be bombarded by unbearable amounts of heartbreak and chaos and ugliness. I believe art plays a critical role in these times. I believe the world needs all the beauty people are willing to give it. And by beauty, I mean anything that inspires change, hope, joy, etc. Even a sad or dark piece of art can be beautiful because that piece might touch someone at the exact time they need it in their lives. They might momentarily feel, "Someone gets it. I'm not so alone after all."

I could go on for days and maybe just scratch the surface, but it's a fun question. What is art to you? I'm sure everyone has a different answer.

Here are some cool quotes on the subject by some of the greats:

Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures. ~Henry Ward Beecher

Painting is just another way of keeping a diary. ~Pablo Picasso

Art is the only way to run away without leaving home. ~Twyla Tharp

The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life. ~William Faulkner

Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one. ~Stella Adler

Painting is silent poetry. ~Plutarch, Moralia

It has been said that art is a tryst, for in the joy of it maker and beholder meet. ~Kojiro Tomita

Art is the desire of a man to express himself, to record the reactions of his personality to the world he lives in. ~Amy Lowell

To send light into the darkness of men's hearts - such is the duty of the artist. ~Schumann

We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth, at least the truth that is given us to understand. The artist must know the manner whereby to convince others of the truthfulness of his lies. ~Pablo Picasso

Art is the stored honey of the human soul, gathered on wings of misery and travail. ~Theodore Dreiser

Anyone who says you can't see a thought simply doesn't know art. ~Wynetka Ann Reynolds

No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist. ~Oscar Wilde

Let me ask you something, what is not art? ~Author Unknown

An artist is someone who produces things that people don't need to have but that he - for some reason - thinks it would be a good idea to give them. ~Andy Warhol

For me, painting is a way to forget life. It is a cry in the night, a strangled laugh. ~Georges Rouault

I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for. ~Georgia O'Keeffe

Art is the triumph over chaos. ~John Cheever

Coloring outside the lines is a fine art. ~Kim Nance

Art is like a border of flowers along the course of civilization. ~Lincoln Steffens

Art is not a thing; it is a way. ~Elbert Hubbard

The true painter strives to paint what can only be seen through his world. ~André Malraux

The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance. ~Aristotle

Art is when you hear a knocking from your soul - and you answer. ~Terri Guillemets

Any great work of art... revives and readapts time and space, and the measure of its success is the extent to which it makes you an inhabitant of that world - the extent to which it invites you in and lets you breathe its strange, special air. ~Leonard Bernstein

Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable. ~George Bernard Shaw

A good painting to me has always been like a friend. It keeps me company, comforts and inspires. ~Hedy Lamarr

A guilty conscience needs to confess. A work of art is a confession. ~Albert Camus

A picture is worth a thousand words. ~Napoleon Bonaparte

Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. ~Thomas Merton

Art is a step from what is obvious and well-known toward what is arcane and concealed. ~Khalil Gibran

Art, in itself, is an attempt to bring order out of chaos. ~Stephen Sondheim

1 comment:

Matthew said...

Hey Jules, great post. I liked your thoughts on art and the collection of quotes was amazing. Very thought provoking. As I read it, I was totally thinking that you can expand this into a book, and can incorporate or expound on some or all of the quotes. Just a thought.