Art has had a great number of different functions throughout its history, making its purpose difficult to abstract or quantify to any single concept. This does not imply that the purpose of Art is “vague”, but that it has had many unique, different reasons for being created. Some of these functions of Art are provided in the following outline. The different purposes of art may be grouped according to those that are non-motivated, and those that are motivated (Lévi-Strauss).
We could differentiate the non-motivated functions of art and the motivated functions of art. In this article, we are thinking regarding the non-motivated purposes.
The non-motivated purposes of art are those that are integral to being human, transcend the individual, or do not fulfill a specific external purpose. In this sense, Art, as creativity, is something humans must do by their very nature (i.e., no other species creates art), and is therefore beyond utility.
Basic human instinct for harmony, balance, rhythm. Art at this level is not an action or an object, but an internal appreciation of balance and harmony (beauty), and therefore an aspect of being human beyond utility.
As Aristotle said, “Imitation, then, is one instinct of our nature. Next, there is the instinct for ‘harmony’ and rhythm, meters being manifestly sections of rhythm. Persons, therefore, starting with this natural gift developed by degrees their special aptitudes, till their rude improvisations gave birth to Poetry”.
Experience of the mysterious. Art provides a way to experience one’s self in relation to the universe. This experience may often come unmotivated, as one appreciates art, music or poetry.
As Albert Einstein said, “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.”
Expression of the imagination. Art provide a means to express the imagination in non-grammatical ways that are not tied to the formality of spoken or written language. Unlike words, which come in sequences and each of which have a definite meaning, art provides a range of forms, symbols and ideas with meanings that are malleable.
As Immanuel Kant said, “Jupiter’s eagle [as an example of art] is not, like logical (aesthetic) attributes of an object, the concept of the sublimity and majesty of creation, but rather something else – something that gives the imagination an incentive to spread its flight over a whole host of kindred representations that provoke more thought than admits of expression in a concept determined by words. They furnish an aesthetic idea, which serves the above rational idea as a substitute for logical presentation, but with the proper function, however, of animating the mind by opening out for it a prospect into a field of kindred representations stretching beyond its ken.”
Ritualistic and symbolic functions. In many cultures, art is used in rituals, performances and dances as a decoration or symbol. While these often have no specific utilitarian (motivated) purpose, anthropologists know that they often serve a purpose at the level of meaning within a particular culture. This meaning is not furnished by any one individual, but is often the result of many generations of change, and of a cosmological relationship within the culture.
As Silva Tomaskova wrote, “most scholars who deal with rock paintings or objects recovered from prehistoric contexts that cannot be explained in utilitarian terms and are thus categorized as decorative, ritual or symbolic, are aware of the trap posed by the term ‘art’.”
To start the understanding of this matter, the art, we have met 100 quotations by the very relevant people. From Seneca to Rabindranath Tagore, from Aristotle to Konstantin Stanislavsky, from Leonardo da Vinci to Keith Haring, etc. etc., relevant people (writers, painters, philosophers, printmakers, physicists, sculptors, actors, emperors, dramatists, scientists, essayists,…) of different eras, cultures and regions we gives us your understandings, your approaches, your attitudes confronted with the divers possibilities to think about the art. Thanks for your engagement and for your light. And for you, have a good intellectual trip! The quotations link is here: http://www.gelonchviladegut.com/en/gelonch-viladegut-a-what-is-art/