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The definition of art:

ways we describe
and categorize it.

What is Art?

Art is A Human Phenomenon!

For the United States in the 21rst

Art is a primarily visual medium
that is used to express ideas
about our human experience
and the world around us.

Tim Hawkinson. Bear, 2005. 23' 6" high, 370,000 lbs.

Stuart Collection,
University of California, San Diego

What is art for whom and when?

Art is whatever a
or a culture
says is art.
Not a universal or fixed
Fluctuates, because
are alive and

Functions of Art

Assists in rituals
Reflects customs
Helps us imagine

Protests political
and social

Celebrates war
and conquest

Commemorates the

Promotes cohesion
Records likenesses
Educates us

Glorifies the state

Entertains us

the divine

ART HAS VISUAL FORM - allows the work to be seen or touched,

and ideas to be communicated.

Visual form includes:

formal elements, line, shape,
the color,
texture, mass, volume, space.
the arrangement of
formal elements.

materials from which the artwork

is made.

In Nigeria, this sculpture was meant to

reinforce the power
of the local king.
1.2 Olowe of Ise. Veranda Post: Female
Caryatid and Equestrian Figure, Yoruba,
before 1938. Wood, pigment, 71" high.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

This sculpture was also meant to

reinforce the rulers power, but in
Ancient Rome.
1.3 Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius, Rome, c. 175 CE.
Bronze, approx. 11' 6" high. Musei Capitolini, Rome.

Art has content - ideas associated with each artwork.

Content communicated through:

symbolic meaning
where it is used or displayed
customs, beliefs, and values
of the culture

writings that explain the work

1.4 Sandro Botticelli. The Birth of Venus, Italy, c. 1482.

Some content is obvious, some hidden.

Artwork reflects the cultural

moment it was made.
This painting was made
during the modern era.

1.5, above Pablo Picasso. Les Demoiselles dAvignon,

Spain/France, 1907. Oil on canvas, 8' 7' 8".
The Museum of Modern Art, NY

Some content is obvious, some hidden.

1.6, left Ceremonial Mask known as a Mboom or

Bwoom, Kuba, Central Zaire, 19th20th centuries.
Wood, beads, shells, cloth. Head-sized. Museum of
Central Africa, Tervuren.

Influences can cross cultures. The works of modern artists such as

Pablo Picasso were influenced by African masks.

a branch of philosophy
with art, its sources,
forms, and effects.

beyond individual tastes


is a critical reflection on art.

reflects the cultures
1.7 Lotus Flowers and Ducks, China, 13th
century. Hanging scroll. Paint on silk, 50.4"
30.7". Museum fuer Ostasiatische Kunst,
Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Berlin.


Perception - focused and

Response - reflects the
responses to their
life experiences and the
world around them.
Expression - art is the
of the artists
perception and response.

This artwork provides a spiritual

experience within the culture of Hinduism.

This artwork provides a spiritual experience, framed within

Japanese culture and the spiritual tradition of Buddhism.
1.8, above Zen Stone Garden, Japan, 11921333. Kamakura period. Daitokuji Temple, Kyoto.

The Zen Stone Garden and the

Gopura both instill a sense of
spiritual awareness in very
different ways.

Artistic Creativity
Creativity allows us to originate
something or to cause some
object to come into being.
What that means exactly can
vary from culture to culture.

1.10 Jaune Quick-to-See Smith. Genesis, 1993. Oil,

collage, mixed media on canvas, 5' 8' 4". Museum of
Art, Atlanta. Top-right
Mother and Nursing Child (see Fig. 7.32)

Today, in the United States

creativity has 2 essential


1.17 Tim Hawkinson. Bear, 2005. 23' 6" high,

370,000 lbs. Stuart Collection,
University of California, San Diego.

Art is often innovative and unique, while at the same

time borrowing from existing styles and symbols.

1.11 Mwashamboy (kneeling) and Bwoom (standing) maskers in

a royal ceremony among the Kuba. Late 20th century.
Democratic Republic of Congo.


Art may not be the same in all cultures.
The art of the masquerade is important in Africa,
but not in North America.

Crafts are sometimes

distinguished from art.

This rug is an example of an

object that could be classified
as fine art or craft.

1.18 Gheordez Prayer Rug, Turkey, 18th century.

White mihrab (prayer niche) with two Turkish floral
columns. Wool, height 65 3/4", width 48 3/4".
Museum fuer Angewandte Kunst, Vienna, Austria.


refers to specific
ceramics, glass,
jewelry, weaving, and

involves making
rather than

objects often have a


Stylistic Categories
Style is the manner of artistic expression:

of an individual artist
of a historic period
of an entire civilization.
A rose is a rose,
but styles of representation
of it are not necessarily the same.

Style Vocabulary

that is depicted as seen in


entities from
the world in
recognizable form.

1.19 Mary Cassatt. Mother and Child, 1897.

Pastel on paper, 21" 17 3/4".
Muse dOrsay, Paris.

Fig. 1.2

Fig. 1.3

Idealized art - natural imagery is modified,

strives for perfection within the bounds,
and aesthetics of a particular culture.


The Veranda Post (Fig. 1.2) and the Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius (Fig. 1.3)

Both rendered in idealized styles.

1.4 Sandro Botticelli. The

Birth of Venus, Italy, c. 1482.

Classical Art

art that is orderly, balanced, clear, well proportioned.

describes a point in the evolution of styles
represents the full development of a certain style.
(with a capital C), refers specifically to art made in Greece

in the 5th C.

1.20 Wassily Kandinsky. Jngster Tag

(Last Judgment), 1912. Underglass
painting with ink and color, 13 1/4" 17
1/2". Muse National dArt Moderne,
Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.

Expressive or expressionist styles of art communicate:

heightened emotions
a sense of urgency or spontaneity.

Expressive styles:

appear bold and immediate

feature distorted, abstracted imagery
appear asymmetrical
have textured surfaces, thick paint application

Surreal refers to art that:

contains bizarre or fantastic arrangements

of images or materials.
taps the workings of the unconscious mind.

1.21, Meret Oppenheim. Object (Le

Dejeuner en fourrure), 1936. Fur-covered
cup, saucer, and spoon. Cup, 4 3/8"
diameter; saucer, 9 3/8" diameter; spoon,
8" long; overall height, 2 7/8". The Museum
of Modern Art, New York.

Non-objective Art contains

imagery generated by the artist.
art is the same
important distinction
Abstracted imagery may or
not be recognizable, but
derived from reality by
distorting, enlarging, and/or
dissecting from nature.

Frank Stellas Abra III (Fig. 1.22), 1968

Cultural styles are apparent when studying a particular art form

that appears globally.

Islamic mosques are built globally.

Local solutions are different from each other.


Fig. 1.24

Compare the Grand Mosque at Djenne, in Mali, Africa (Fig.1.23)

with the Badshahi Mosque in Lahore, Pakistan (Fig. 1.24).
Both are dramatic buildings with towers, each design
influenced by cultural preferences and building materials.

Artists Styles

refers to the distinguishing characteristics

of an artists work.

1.25, left Vincent van Gogh. Portrait of Mme. Ginoux (LArlesienne), 1889. Oil on canvas. 23 1/2"
19 1/2". Galleria Nazionale dArte Moderna, Rome.

Note the similarities and differences

between Paul Gauguins and Vincent van
Goghs paintings of Madame Ginoux.