The Meaning and Philosophy of Art

Art has been viewed as a unique form of verbal expression in several societies. In the United States, art is commonly defined as visual and performing art, including dance, architecture, literature and film. Art affects us emotionally and can create a powerful response that is either positive or negative. Art is usually presented in the form of a work of art. It includes paintings, sculptures, photographs, computer generated imagery, and music.


Art has many definitions and some of its most common characteristics are subjectivity, aesthetic beauty, and interactivity. Subjectivity is the ability to define an object without having to depend on other people or even a specific definition of that object. Aesthetics refer to the beauty or attractiveness of an object. Aesthetic beauty refers to the ability to delight in the beauty of an item, including its shape, size, color, and quality. If an object appeals to us, then we are able to enjoy it.

An example of the difficulty of defining art comes from the fact that, for example, a painting of a landscape can be considered both art and literature. Landscape paintings typically contain people or objects, but they may also include architectural details, like a grand building or the view from a grand cliff. Some examples of literary works would be a book, a song, or a short story. In contrast, the definition of an architect does not specifically mention the content of the work, but rather than the skill and expertise necessary to build buildings.

An even bigger problem in the definition of art is that it can apply to just about any type of human activity. A building or an artfully crafted painting does not necessarily have to be displayed in a museum or elsewhere on a person’s property. For example, a sculpture can be created outside on a patio, on a sidewalk, or in someone’s back yard. Although the public sees and owns the piece, these types of creations are still private. Some artists feel that the only way to properly display their artwork is to put it in a gallery, exhibit it in a museum, or show it in some kind of show.

As you can see, there is no clear and concise definition of art. Each artist, each piece of art, and every day of the life of humanity is filled with both the opportunity and the risk of being defined as an artist. In some ways, this is the risk and opportunity of art itself. For instance, when an artist paints a painting, they are potentially creating a work of art that will be seen by millions of people. On the other hand, when a sculptor creates a sculpture, they are risking the chance that it will fall and injure someone.

The difficulty of defining art extends to the definition of what artwork actually is. Some artists believe that art is simply a form of communication, while others believe that art has a specific meaning. With the definition of art having such a wide range of possible meanings, it is difficult to think of a single definition that encompasses all of the work of art. Defining art also poses some significant difficulties for those of us who do not have a scientific or rational definition of what beauty is. We might be walking around with a head full of definitions, but we still need to determine what beauty is in order to know if something is beautiful. This is why critics, professors, and teachers continue to struggle with the idea of beauty.